State of Chicago: Explaining the 1990s Versus the 2000s


In my article “The Second-Rate City?” I noted Chicago’s very strong economic and demographic performance in the 1990s and contrasted it with the very poor performance in the 2000s. Then I outlined several problems with Chicago I thought helped drive the struggles. A few people asked a very fair question, saying, “All the negative factors you cite about Chicago (e.g., clout, business climate) were equally as true in the 1990s as in the 2000s, so what really made the difference?” I want to try to respond to that today.  read more »

State of Chicago: The New Century Struggle


This is the second installment in my “State of Chicago” series. Read part one here.

Last time I looked at Chicago’s 70s and early 80s horrible struggles followed by rebirth and robust out-performance during the 1990s. Today we turn our attention to the first decade of the 21st century. During the 2000s, Chicago experienced a bit of a two-track performance. Parts of the urban core continued to grow robustly, fueled by the real estate bubble and perhaps the greatest urban condo building boom in America.  read more »

State of Chicago: The Decline and Rise


I’ve had it in my head for over a year now to do an in-depth exploration of Chicago, a project I’ve called “State of Chicago.” This is the first a series of pieces that expand on the themes in my recent article “The Second-Rate City?

First, I’d like to list three reasons why I wrote that piece:  read more »

The Collapse of Chicago Media


When the satirical humor weekly The Onion announced it was moving its editorial staff from New York to Chicago it was considered quite a coup by boosters of the Windy City. Yet the hoopla surrounding revealed more about Chicago’s decline as a media center than any significant uptick. This includes news of a staff rebellion at the Onion in which writers attempted to scotch the move, with some ultimately deciding not to come. The strong celebration of a relatively small relocation in the grand scheme of things also shows a city looking hard for good media news where there has been so much bad recently.  read more »

The OECD Reviews Chicago


“Although still high in absolute terms, GDP and labor productivity growth rates are sluggish – both by US and international standards. The Chicago Tri-State metro-region’s contribution to national growth has slowed over the past decade and the region does not stand out as a top knowledge hub. Despite a dynamic and numerically large labor force, the region has experienced virtually no growth in the size of its prime working-age population and displays limited ability to attract and retain talent when compared to its US peers. More worrisome are the persistence of unemployment and the lack of sufficient job creation.” – OECD Territorial Review, The Chicago Tri-State Metropolitan Area  read more »

Goodbye, Chicago


Odd as it may seem for someone known as The Urbanophile, I actually grew up in the countryside. I spent most of my childhood on a country road about four miles outside the town of Laconia, Indiana, population 50.  I always used to get confused when John Cougar sang about living in a small town, because I knew he was from Seymour, and with over 15,000 people that seemed a big town in my book.  read more »

The Great Reordering of the Urban Hierarchy


A delegation from Chicago is in Brussels this week to sell the city as a tourist destination in advance of the forthcoming NATO Summit. A Phil Rosenthal column explains that the city has a long way to go:  read more »

The Shifting Landscape of Diversity in Metro America


Census 2010 gave the detail behind what we’ve known for some time: America is becoming an increasingly diverse place.  Not only has the number of minorities simply grown nationally, but the distribution of them among America’s cities has changed. Not all of the growth was evenly spread or did it occur only in traditional ethnic hubs or large, historically diverse cities.  read more »

Illinois: State Of Embarrassment


Most critics of Barack Obama’s desultory performance the past three years trace it to his supposedly leftist ideology, lack of experience and even his personality quirks. But it would perhaps be more useful to look at the geography — of Chicago and the state of Illinois — that nurtured his career and shaped his approach to politics. Like with George W. Bush and Texas, this is a case where you can’t separate the man from the place.  read more »

Major Metropolitan Commuting Trends: 2000-2010


As we indicated in the last article, solo automobile commuting reached an all time record in the United States in 2010, increasing by 7.8 million commuters. At the same time, huge losses were sustained by carpooling, while the largest gain was in working at home, which includes telecommuting. Transit and bicycling also added commuters.  This continues many of the basic trends toward more personalized employment access that we have seen since 1960.  read more »