10,000 years ago San Francisco Bay was a dry grassy valley populated by elephants, zebras, and camels. The planet was significantly cooler and dryer back then. Sea level was lower since glaciers in the north pulled water out of the oceans. The bay isn’t that deep so a relatively small change in sea level pushed the coastline out by twelve miles from its present location. Further back in pre-history when the earth was warmer than today sea level was higher. read more »
Access for residents to employment is critical to boosting city productivity. This has been demonstrated by researchers such as Remy Prud’homme and Chang-Woon Lee of the University of Paris, David Hartgen and M. Gregory Fields of the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. Generally, city productivity (economic growth and job creation) can be expected to improve more where employment access is better . Access is measured in the number of jobs that can be reached by the average employee in a certain period of time, like 30 minutes. read more »
The New Brooklyn: What It Takes to Bring a City Back
by Kay Hymowitz
My City Journal colleague Kay Hymowitz has written a number of great articles on Brooklyn, the borough that is her home. This inspired her to write a great book on the topic of the transformation of Brooklyn called The New Brooklyn.
It starts with a two-chapter history of the borough from its earliest settlement to the present day, followed by a series of chapters looking at Brooklyn today. This includes the transformation of Park Slope (where she and her husband moved in the early 1980s), Williamsburg, Bed-Stuy, and the Navy Yard. read more »
“From the Beginning, California promised much. While yet barely a name on the map, it entered American awareness as a symbol of renewal. It was a final frontier: of geography and of expectation.”
— Kevin Starr, “Americans and the California Dream, 1850-1915” (1973)
The 13th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey measures middle-income housing affordability in 92 major housing markets (metropolitan areas with more than 1,000,000 population) in Australia, Canada, China (Hong Kong ), Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States. read more »
Last year I engaged in a failed attempt to renovate and expand an old house in an 1890’s era neighborhood in Ohio. It ended badly. So I thought I’d do a follow up on what actually does work given the legal parameters and cultural context. read more »
I’m a fan of Strong Towns and share their thesis that the biggest sustainability problem with much of suburbia is its financial sustainability.
A recent article there about Lafayette, Louisiana has been making the rounds. That city’s public works director made some estimates of infrastructure maintenance costs and which parts of the city turned a “profit” from taxes and which were losses. Here’s their profit and loss map. read more »
I’ve been arguing that one thing struggling post-industrial cities need to do is take care of their own business, doing things like addressing legacy liabilities and rebuilding of core public services.
Last week I write about Buffalo doing just this by completely re-writing its zoning code and creating a new land use map of the city to bring its planning ordinances up to date for the 21st century. read more »
My family lived in this building when I was a kid in the 1970’s. This was the door to our old apartment. It’s in a nondescript part of the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles. There are a million places just like this all over the Southland. These beige stucco boxes are the workhorses of semi-affordable market rate housing in California. The place hasn’t changed in forty years other than the on-going deferred maintenance. read more »
The world has come a long way since 1929, when 80 percent of the world’s car registrations were in the United States, which also manufactured 90 percent of the vehicles. Now China produces the most cars and its annual sales rank top in the world. China overtook the United States in vehicle sales during the Great Recession. But it’s not like Americans are no longer buying cars; the US broke its own record last year. read more »