Urban Issues

Actually, Cities are Part of the Economy


“The prosperity of our economy and communities is dependent on the political structures and mechanisms used to manage and coordinate our economic systems.”

No politician expecting to be taken seriously would say that today.  read more »

Asthma: The Geography of Wheezing

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Are you familiar with the Hygiene Hypothesis? The HH — or, as some of us call it, the “pound of dirt theory” — is grabbing attention again. A minor medical press feeding frenzy followed the publication in the New England Journal of Medicine of a study based on data from Europe. The summary?  read more »

Perspectives on Urban Cores and Suburbs


Our virtually instant analysis of 2000 census trends in metropolitan areas has the generated wide interest. The principal purpose is to chronicle the change in metropolitan area population and the extent to which that change occurred in the urban core as opposed to suburban areas.

From a policy perspective, this is especially timely because of the recurring report that suburbanites have been moving to the urban core over the last decade.  read more »

What kind of Cities do we Want, Sustainable, Liveable or Resilient?


A critical issue from the dreadful earthquake that has severely damaged so much of central Christchurch, taken so many lives, and terrified so many residents of the whole urban area, lies in whether the Central Area should be rebuilt. Some believe it should be abandoned for some other location; others see an opportunity to set new standards in sustainability, urban design, energy efficiency, or whatever ideal urban form takes your fancy.  read more »

Are Chinese Ready to Rent?


In 2010 “House price” ranked third on the list of the top 10 most popular phrases used by Chinese netizens. It came to no one's surprise. In most Chinese cities housing prices have increased significantly over the past decade, with an especially sharp rise over the past three years.  read more »

California’s Demographic Dilemma: A Class And Culture Clash


The newly released Census reports reveal that California faces a profound gap between the cities where people are moving to and the cities that hold all the political power. It is a tale that divides the state between its coastal metropolitan regions that dominate the state’s politics — particularly the San Francisco Bay Area, but also Los Angeles — and its still-growing, largely powerless interior regions.  read more »

New Jersey: Still Suburbanizing


The state of New Jersey virtually defines suburbanization in the United States.  New Jersey is not home to the core of any major metropolitan area but, major portions of the nation's largest metropolitan area (New York) and the fifth largest metropolitan area (Philadelphia) are in the state (See map). These two metropolitan areas comprise 17 of the state's 21 counties. Another county (Warren) is in the Allentown, Pennsylvania metropolitan area, while Atlantic (Atlantic City), Cumberland and Cape May are single-county metropolitan areas.  read more »

The Protean Future Of American Cities


The ongoing Census reveals the continuing evolution of America’s cities from small urban cores to dispersed, multi-polar regions that includes the city’s surrounding areas and suburbs. This is not exactly what most urban pundits, and journalists covering cities, would like to see, but the reality is there for anyone who reads the numbers.  read more »

High Speed Rail: The Dream Scheme Scenario

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Ever since Jay Gould, Leland Stanford, and Cornelius Vanderbilt acquired their first legislatures, railroads have been best understood as political networks, rather than as transportation lines. The Obama administration is hyping high-speed rail (HSR) with a $53 billion proposal not because the president is a trainspotter or because he collects back copies of the Official Guide of the Railways (like I do).  read more »

Is Nashville the Next Boomtown of the New South?


I traveled to Nashville for the first time in 2007, spending most of my time in the downtown area. I posted my impressions here, noting the high growth and high ambition level as well as the fantastic freeways, but also the generally unimpressive development and built environment.  read more »