New York

Observations on Urbanization: 1920-2010

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Ninety years have made a world of difference in the United States. Between 1920 and 2010, the nation's population nearly tripled. But that was not the most important development. Two other trends played a huge role in shaping the United States we know today. The first trend was increasing urbanization, a virtually universal trend, but one which occurred earlier in the high income countries, while the other was a rapidly falling average household size. 

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New York Catholic Schools: Will Decline Spark Innovation?

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In a heart-breaking scene in the 2010 documentary Waiting for Superman, a young mother is crying in her Harlem apartment, which overlooks her daughter’s school. Bianca, her daughter, has been barred from attending graduation. The villain isn’t a union boss or a bureaucrat in Albany – instead, it's the Archdiocese of New York and its affable leader, Cardinal Dolan. Bianca hadn't misbehaved or been excessively tardy.  read more »

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New York City's Revival: The Post-Sandy Apple

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Although its manufacturing jobs are gone forever, New York continues to ride the crests of its paper-profits prosperity. Housing in once-notorious slums now costs more than $1.5 million. The waterfront is getting a green-space makeover. The city’s future depends on Wall Street’s ability to attract capital, be it from clients or bailouts. And the jury is still out how the rise and rise of New York reflects on the legacies of former mayors Rudy Giuliani, Ed Koch, and (soon to be former) Michael Bloomberg.  read more »

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Transit Legacy Cities

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Transit's greatest potential to attract drivers from cars is the work trip. But an analysis of US transit work trip destinations indicates that this applies in large part to   just a few destinations around the nation. This is much more obvious in looking at destinations than the more typical method of analysis, which looks at the residential locations of commuters.  read more »

The New Places Where America's Tech Future Is Taking Shape

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Technology is reshaping our economic geography, but there’s disagreement as to how. Much of the media and pundits like Richard Florida assert that the tech revolution is bound to be centralized in the dense, often “hip” places where  “smart” people cluster.  read more »

The Dispersion of Financial Sector Jobs

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When you think of financial services, one usually looks at iconic downtowns such as New York’s Wall Street, Montgomery Street San Francisco's or Chicago’s LaSalle Street. But since the great financial crisis of 2007-8 the banking business is on the move elsewhere. Over the last five years (2007 to 2012), even as the total number of financial jobs has declined modestly, they have been growing elsewhere.  read more »

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 »

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