Urban Issues

Singapore's Demographic Winter

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Over the past half century arguably no place on earth has progressed more than the tiny island state of Singapore. A once impoverished, tropical powder keg packed into 268 square miles at the foot of the Malay Peninsula, the Mandarin-led republic has ascended from its difficult founding in 1965 to one of the richest economies on the planet. Today, in terms of purchasing power, its per capita income stands higher than most European countries' or Japan's and is roughly equal to that of the U.S.  read more »

The Myth of the Back-to-the-City Migration

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Pundits, planners and urban visionaries—citing everything from changing demographics, soaring energy prices, the rise of the so-called "creative class," and the need to battle global warming—have been predicting for years that America's love affair with the suburbs will soon be over. Their voices have grown louder since the onset of the housing crisis. Suburban neighborhoods, as the Atlantic magazine put it in March 2008, would morph into "the new slums" as people trek back to dense urban spaces.  read more »

The Economic Significance of Village Markets

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Flea markets and garage sales have been around for years. But for most New Zealanders, produce markets have been associated with old European villages, or the ethnic markets of Hong Kong and other exotic locations. Village markets focus on locally made crafts, while Flea Markets are essentially centralized garage sales.  read more »

Sponge Cities on the Great Plains

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“Sponge cities” is an apt metaphor to describe urban communities in rural states like North Dakota which grow soaking up the residents of surrounding small towns, farms and ranches. North Dakota’s four largest cities, Fargo, Bismarck, Grand Forks and Minot, are growing in large part due to the young adults who for decades gone elsewhere to other regions. In the process, rural North Dakota is facing a protracted population crisis as significant numbers of its small communities are on a slow slide to extinction. This migration pattern is not new, nor is it unique to North Dakota.  read more »

Why the Great Plains are Great Once Again

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On a drizzly, warm June night, the bars, galleries, and restaurants along Broadway are packed with young revelers. Traffic moves slowly, as drivers look for parking. The bar at the Donaldson, a boutique hotel, is so packed with stylish patrons that I can’t get a drink. My friend, a local, and I head over to Monte’s, a trendy Italian place down the street. We watch a group of attractive 30-something blondes share a table and gossip. They look like the cast of the latest Housewives series.  read more »

Salt Lake City's Sacred Space

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Amid a devastating condo crash and high office vacancies across the U.S., one of the country's largest downtown development projects is taking shape in Salt Lake City. The city's center displays a landscape of cranes, cement-mixers and hard-hats--something all too rare in these tough times.  read more »

The Urbanist’s Guide to Kevin Rudd’s Downfall

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The political execution of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd by his own Australian Labor Party colleagues was extraordinary, the first time a prime minister has been denied a second chance to face the voters.

According to the consensus in Australia’s mostly progressive media establishment, Rudd fell victim to his “poor communication skills”, a somewhat Orwellian take since until recently he was hailed as a brilliant communicator. What went wrong?  read more »

The Changing Demographics of America

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Estimates of the United states population at the middle of the 21st century vary, from the U.N.’s 404 million to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 422 to 458 million. To develop a snapshot of the nation at 2050, particularly its astonishing diversity and youthfulness, I use the nice round number of 400 million people, or roughly 100 million more than we have today.  read more »

Despite Transit's 2008 Peak, Longer Term Market Trend is Down: A 25 Year Report on Transit Ridership

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In 2008, US transit posted its highest ridership since 1950, a development widely noted and celebrated in the media. Ridership had been increasing for about a decade, however, 2008 coincided with the highest gasoline prices in history, which gave transit a boost.  read more »

Immigrant Entrepreneurs Can Turbocharge Cleveland’s Flagging Economy

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In seeking to lure a Chinese lightbulb-maker to town, Cleveland leaders revealed both a vision and a blind spot.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and his team should be given credit for recognizing the tremendous opportunity in attracting foreign direct investment, or “FDI,” and the new jobs that it provides.  read more »