New York

A Volunteer Army's Attempt to Fill the New York Hurricane Response Gap

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On November 6, eight days after Hurricane Sandy’s surge waters flooded the streets, I started volunteering in the Rockaways, where I stayed for much of the next three weeks.

On that first day, I joined an ad hoc group of volunteers and took a school bus full of supplies donated by my Brooklyn neighbors out to a church on Beach 67th Street.  read more »

Where Americans Are Moving

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The red states may have lost the presidential election, but they are winning new residents, largely at the expense of their politically successful blue counterparts. For all the talk of how the Great Recession has driven people — particularly the “footloose young” — toward dense urban centers, Census data reveal that Americans are still drawn to the same sprawling Sun Belt regions as before.  read more »

Faking It: The Happy Messaging of Placemaking

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Picasso said “Art is a lie that tells the truth”. Nowadays, there’s less truth to that, as the creative process is increasingly about prettying up and papering over what’s broke.

More on that shortly, but first, about the breakage: it’s legitimate. Said Nobel laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz in a recent NY Times piece that plain-talks our economic conditions: “Increasing inequality means a weaker economy, which means increasing inequality, which means a weaker economy.”

That assessment—from a very smart man studying the problem—isn’t good. But in the American feel-good milieu you wouldn’t know it: “We’re coming out if it.” “Tomorrow is forever.” “Start-ups will save the U.S.” Etc. And while tone deaf, this kind of brushing off of problems isn’t new, but part of what social critic Barbara Ehrenreich refers to as America’s “cult of cheerfulness”, and it’s a “cult” that has spawned a longstanding and growing American feel-good industry.  read more »

The New York Marathon Vs the NFL

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The ING New York City Marathon was cancelled, but the football game of the New York Giants against the Pittsburgh Steelers went ahead. Why? The nation places a higher value on sedentary spectators popping Advil and Viagra, than on lean and wiry runners, whose idea of a big night out is pasta and a few sips of Gatorade. It also helps that pro football has a televised address on 21st and Primetime, while the pleasure of a marathon is simply to finish one, even in the dark.  read more »

Subjects:

Superstorm Sandy & The Beachfront Bailout

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Deadline reporters, especially in weather broadcasts from the surf line, have been wailing about “this enormous storm” or “the unfolding tragedy.” What they might also say is that hurricanes are a munificent windfall for newspapers, television stations, the federal government, construction unions, and politicians seeking reelection. In addition to classifying storms from one to five on the Saffir-Simpson scale, going forward it might also be possible to grade hurricanes as profit centers, or by the surge levels that they generate in reelection campaigns.  read more »

Flocking Elsewhere: The Downtown Growth Story

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The United States Census Bureau has released a report (Patterns of Metropolitan and Micropolitan Population Change: 2000 to 2010.) on metropolitan area growth between 2000 and 2010. The Census Bureau's the news release highlighted population growth in downtown areas, which it defines as within two miles of the city hall of the largest municipality in each metropolitan area.  read more »

The Hollow Boom Of Brooklyn: Behind Veneer Of Gentrification, Life Gets Worse For Many

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After a decade of increasingly celebrated gentrification, many believe Brooklyn — the native borough of both my parents — finally has risen from the shadows that were cast when it became part of New York City over a century ago.  Brooklyn has gotten “its groove back” as a “post-industrial hotspot,” the well-informed conservative writer Kay Hymowitz writes, a perception that is echoed regularly by elements of a Manhattan media that for decades would not have sullied their fingers wr  read more »

A Look at Commuting Using the Latest Census Data

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Continuing my exploration of the 2011 data from the American Community Survey, I want to look now at some aspects of commuting.

Public Transit

Public transit commuting remains overwhelmingly dominated by New York City, with a metro commute mode share for transit of 31.1%. There are an estimated 2,686,406 transit commuters in New York City. All other large metro areas (1M+ population) put together add up to 3,530,932 transit commuters. New York City metro accounts for 39% of all transit commuters in the United States.  read more »

The Growing Number of Freelancers in Entertainment

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When people were preparing eulogies for the entertainment sector, Techdirt’s Mike Masnick popped out with his bold piece, “The Sky is Rising,” and poked holes in the gloomy forecast. His scrutiny of the numbers revealed that the entertainment industry is actually growing. Entertainment consumption per household increased from 2000 to 2008. Employment in the entertainment sector jumped 20% from 1998 to 2008. And the number of independent artists rose 43% over the same period.  read more »

Density is Not the Issue: The Urban Scaling Research

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The "urban scaling" research of Geoffrey West, Luis Bettencourt, Jose Lobo, Deborah Strumsky, Dirk Helbing and Christian Kuhnert on cities has attracted considerable attention (references below). They have provided strong quantitative evidence, based upon voluminous econometric analysis that cities tend to become more efficient as they grow in population.  read more »