The Economic Fallout of the Chicago Way


Many large American cities are hurting from the recent recession. Unrealistic revenue assumptions based on ever higher real estate prices and sales tax receipts have left cities unable to pay their basic bills. As asset and consumer prices deflate, from a lack of demand, those cities with “sticky” costs – the result of overly powerful unions and excessive business regulations – are stuck in an economic quagmire.

Chicago has become a leading poster child for recent urban economic malaise. With the election of Barack Obama, 2009 was supposed to be a year in which the Windy City basked in glory.  read more »

Migration: Geographies In Conflict


It's an interesting puzzle. The “cool cities”, the ones that are supposedly doing the best, the ones with the hottest downtowns, the biggest buzz, leading-edge new companies, smart shops, swank restaurants and hip hotels – the ones that are supposed to be magnets for talent – are often among those with the highest levels of net domestic outmigration. New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Miami and Chicago – all were big losers in the 2000s. Seattle, Denver, and Minneapolis more or less broke even.  read more »

The Limits of Transit: Costly Dead-End


The proposed Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) fare increase and service cuts for next year are indicative of transit’s recurring budgetary problems, and not only in Chicago but nationwide. But in the Windy City, these moves have elicited an understandably negative public reaction since the city of Chicago depends on transit about as much as any city besides New York.  read more »

Eros Triumphs…At Least in Some Places, Mapping Natural Population Increases


As with other advanced capitalist societies, the US population is aging. About 30 percent of US counties experienced natural decrease – more deaths than births – in the 2000-2007 period.

Nevertheless, the most exceptional feature of the United States remains its unusually high level of natural increase, and significant degree of population growth.  read more »

Go to Middle America, Young Men & Women


A few weeks ago, Eamon Moynihan reviewed economic research on cost of living by state in a article. The results may seem surprising, given that some of the states with the highest median incomes rated far lower once prices were taken into consideration. The dynamic extends to the nation’s 51 metropolitan areas with more than 1,000,000 population (See Table).  read more »

Obama's Home Town


Hyde Park, in Chicago, is where President Obama called home before moving to Pennsylvania Avenue.

I once called 5118 S. Dorchester home.

Hyde Park is a college town surrounded by – but not really part of – a big city. The University of Chicago, founded in 1890, is the heart of the community. The campus was built of Indiana limestone, fake Gothic, and made to look old from its very inception. Some people like it.  read more »

Olympics the Chicago Way


Most American cities chose not to bid on the 2016 summer Olympics and with good reason. With the exception of the 1984 Los Angeles games, the Olympics has proved a big time money loser in city after city. More often than not, it has been staged more for the prestige – think of Berlin in 1936 or China in 2008 – it brings to regimes, particularly autocratic ones.

In Chicago, prestige is important, but graft is the real king. In Chicago, one of the most corrupt big cities, the Olympics represents, more than anything, a grand chance for a giant heist.  read more »

Origins and Growth of Al Capone’s Outfit: Chicago’s First Ward Democratic Organization and its Aftermath


Barack Obama ran for President with his headquarters in downtown Chicago. Obama's election night victory speech was just blocks away in Chicago's Grant Park. To historians of organized crime both locations are located in a significant place: Chicago's old First Ward. This valuable plot of land is where Chicago's Democratic Machine and Al Capone's criminal organization both began. The connection between the two is of great historical significance. Why? Because the Chicago Mob is nothing but an outgrowth of Chicago's old First Ward Democratic Organization.  read more »

Downtown Central-Cities as Hubs of Civic Connection

Downtown Folsom.jpg

There's been a torrent of spirited banter lately about the reemergence of downtown central-cities. Much of this raucous debate is between advocates of urban revitalization, who offer an assortment of anti-sprawl messages as justification for this movement, and those who see suburban growth options as essential to quality of life in America. Adding to the fray are environmentalists who see housing density and alternative forms of transportation as the panacea for confronting our carbon-choked world.  read more »

Tracking Business Services: Best And Worst Cities For High-Paying Jobs


Media coverage of America's best jobs usually focuses on blue-collar sectors, like manufacturing, or elite ones, such as finance or technology. But if you're seeking high-wage employment, your best bet lies in the massive "business and professional services" sector.

This unsung division of the economy is basically a mirror of any and all productive industry. It includes everything from human resources and administration to technical and scientific positions, as well as accounting, legal and architectural firms.  read more »