Philadelphia

New Central Business District Employment and Transit Commuting Data

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Photographs of downtown skylines are often the "signature" of major metropolitan areas, as my former Amtrak Reform Council colleague and then Mayor of Milwaukee (later President and CEO of the Congress of New Urbanism) John Norquist has rightly said. The cluster of high rise office towers in the central business district (CBD) is often so spectacular – certainly compared with an edge city development or suburban strip center – as to give the impression of virtual dominance. I have often asked audiences to guess how much of a metropolitan area's employment is in the CBD. Answers of 50 percent to 80 percent are not unusual.  read more »

No Fundamental Shift to Transit: Not Even a Shift

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The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is out with news of higher transit ridership. APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy characterizes the new figures as indicating "a fundamental shift going on in the way we move about our communities.” Others even characterized the results as indicating "shifting consumer preferences." The data shows either view to be an exaggeration.

1935 and 2013  read more »

Driving Alone Dominates 2007-2012 Commuting Trend

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New data from the American Community Survey makes it possible to review the trend in mode of access to employment in the United States over the past five years. This year, 2012, represents the fifth annual installment of complete American Community Survey data. This is also a significant period, because the 2007 was a year before the Lehman Brothers collapse that triggered the Great Financial crisis, while gasoline prices increased about a third between 2007 and 2012.  read more »

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 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 »

Urban Housing: A Master Plan for the Few

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How we, as a nation, find bounty and beauty in the future depends upon how we react to two trends emerging from the recent difficult period in American urbanism. The first of these trends is the increasing lack of affordability in mainstream urban America, with the costs of maintaining a middle-class lifestyle at a level where distinct have/have-not lines are now drawn. The second is the increasing authoritarianism in mainstream urban America, where decisions about how our cities function are guided by a new array of authority figures that represent the common good.  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 »

Megalopolis and its Rivals

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Jean Gottman in 1961 coined the term megalopolis (Megalopolis, the Urbanized Northeastern Seaboard of the Unites States) to describe the massive concentration of population extending from the core of New York north beyond Boston and south encompassing Washington DC. It has been widely studied and mapped, including by me. (Morrill, 2006, Classic Map Revisited, Professional Geographer).  The concept has also been extended to describe and compare many other large conurbations around the world.

Maybe it’s time to see how the original has fared?   And what has happened to other metropolitan complexes in the US, most notably Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and should we say Florida?  read more »

Back to the City?

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The 2010 Census results were mostly bleak for cities, especially for those who believed the inflated hype about the resurgence of the city at the expense of the suburbs.  Despite claims of an urban renaissance, the 2000s actually turned out to be worse than the 1990s for central cities.  The one bright spot was downtowns, which showed strong gains, albeit from a low base.  The resurgence of the city story seemed largely fueled by intra-census estimates by the government that proved t  read more »

More Americans Move to Detached Houses

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In defiance of the conventional wisdom in the national media and among most planning professionals, Americans continue not only to prefer, but to move into single family detached houses. Data from the 2010 American Community Survey indicates that such housing attracted 79.2% of the new households in the 51 major metropolitan areas (over 1,000,000 population) over the past decade.  read more »