Urban Issues

Changing the Narrative in Cleveland

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Cleveland, like many Rust Belt cities, has both an image and a self-image problem. Its residents have simultaneously had passion and loyalty for the city, while also being filled with shame about it and relentlessly negative and fatalistic about its future. Again, this is something that is the case for any number of places.  read more »

Children and Cities

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My wife recently gave birth to our first child. It’s an exciting time – and also one that portends great changes for our future.

Cities are supposedly hostile to children. But living on the Upper West Side of New York, we’ve experienced nothing but oohs and ahhs over our son. The people in our neighborhood love children. And there are plenty of them around. The UWS is one of those places you could probably classify as a “strollerville.”  read more »

Why Rail Transit Doesn't Work in Atlanta

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One of the more interesting presentations at the 2017 American Dream conference was by Alain Bertaud, a French demographer currently working at New York University. He has compared urban areas all over the world to see how transportation has influenced the layout of those areas.  read more »

By Chinatown Bus to New York

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I have long heard of the “Chinatown” buses that ply between Washington and New York. I recently planned a quick trip from Washington, both to try a Chinatown bus and to visit Manhattan. This would be my first intercity bus trip in decades, duplicating my first trip to New York (from Washington), just before college. That time, Trailways delivered me on an overnight schedule to the Port Authority Bus Terminal, just beyond the end of the Lincoln Tunnel. It was very exciting then, as now, just as any visit to Manhattan must be for anyone who enjoys cities.  read more »

Will Donald Trump Expose America’s Great Mass Transit Hoax?

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Whatever you think of President Trump, his claims about the lousy condition of America’s basic infrastructure are widely accepted—even by resisting Democrats grinding their teeth on a L.A. freeway or waiting for a New York or D.C. train to arrive. His call for a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan may be his last best bet for finding bipartisan support.  read more »

The Precariat Shoppe

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The precariat is a term coined to describe the segment of the population that lives without security or predictability. These days it often refers to the former American middle class that’s currently experiencing reduced circumstances. There’s always been a precariat, but it usually includes a minor subset of the population that no one really likes or cares about. Indentured Irish servants, black slaves, Jewish and Italian sweatshop workers, Mexican field hands, Puerto Rican cleaning ladies… It’s a long list.  read more »

First Mile-Last Mile, Intermodialism, and Making Public Transit More Attractive

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In the ever-trendy world of transportation planning people seem to be infatuated with discussions of first mile-last mile public transportation connections and intermodalism. Given all the attention, one would think that the traveling public is anxiously awaiting their next opportunity to transfer vehicles to complete their trip. Nothing can be further from the truth. People don't aspire to transfer; they don’t aspire to experience an intermodal terminal. They almost always want to get door to door in the fastest, simplest, and most reliable fashion.  read more »

Smaller American Cities Need to Focus on Private Sector Job Growth Downtown

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I’m back from a short break. While I was away my debut contribution to City Lab was published. In it I argue that the next frontier for smaller cities (meaning metros in the 1-3 million raise) in their downtown development efforts needs to be a focus on growing private sector jobs.  read more »

A Reporter Rode Denver’s Airport Light Rail–And You Won’t Believe What Happened Next

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Here’s a heartwarming story of a man who rode Denver’s airport light rail once, and it worked for him, so now he wants everyone in his Virginia city to pay higher taxes to build light rail to the local airport in case he might want to ride it again someday. How thoughtful and touching.  read more »

MREs Are Not For The Weak

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Friends recently visited from Pittsburgh – a city I know well and am quite fond of. We spent time wandering around San Francisco doing the usual tourist things together including some museum stops that featured work by Pittsburgh native son Andy Warhol and a special exhibition of Norwegian painter Edvard Munch which was actually more disturbing and pervy than I expected.


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