Urban Issues

The Housing Bubble and the Boomer Generation

iStock_000000336720XSmall.jpg

Much of the commentary on the current economic crisis has focused on symptoms. Sub-prime mortgages, credit default swaps and the loosening of financial regulations are not the root cause of the financial crisis. They are symptoms of what has recently become a surprisingly widespread belief that individuals, families and even entire nations could live indefinitely beyond their means.

The crisis has reminded everyone that, in the end, market fundamentals like supply and demand still matter and that ignoring traditional virtues like thrift and long-term planning can lead to grief. But what does this have to do with boomers?  read more »

Redrawing the Electoral Map? Not so fast.

harrlead.png

With Barack Obama’s historic presidential win there has been much celebratory talk about redrawing the electoral map. Obama himself boasted that he was the only Democratic candidate who could accomplish this feat.

However, actual voting results suggest the map only shifted slightly at the margins from the 2000 and 2004 elections and that our geographic voting patterns may be more durable than we think. Here is a comparison of the famous red-blue divide:  read more »

Back to Basics in Orlando

iStock_000002758215XSmall.jpg

By Richard Reep

For the last decade the City of Orlando has been concentrating form, trying somehow to displace its image as the ultimate plastic city. Although tourism helped insulate Central Florida from the slowdowns of the 1970s and 1980s, the last three recessions hit Orlando harder than the national average. This metropolitan area has now been taking on a more essential task of morphing slowly away from its status as ephemeral support city for the theme parks.  read more »

From Rhetoric to Reality on Transit

iStock_000005908731XSmall.jpg

Rhetoric always seems to trump reality in the headline department. This has been evident as a fawning press and commentators have made the most of the decline in driving from high gas prices and the related increase in transit ridership. As gas prices rose to their above $4.00 peak, driving in the nation’s urban areas had declined 2.0 percent over a year. At the same time, transit ridership rose 3.3 percent, leading to the impression that transit ridership increases had accounted for most, if not more than the loss in driving.  read more »

New Zealand Voters Swing Right: John Key's Shower Power

iStock_000005983694XSmallshower power.jpg

Reason magazine’s Jesse Walker opens his commentary on the New Zealand election by saying: “At least one country is responding to the financial crisis by moving to the right, not left.” This is factually correct but may overstate the case.  read more »

Architecture in an Age of Austerity

iStock_000002336293XSmall.jpg

“Architectural publication, criticism and even education are now focused relentlessly on the enticing visual image. The longing for singular, memorable imagery subordinates other aspects of buildings, isolating architecture in disembodied vision.” – Finnish architect Juhani Pallasmaa, from his essay “Toward an Architecture of Humility”

Anyone paying even remote attention to the domain of high architectural design in the past decade will surely recognize the name Frank Gehry. The celebrity architect (or if you prefer to use the portmanteau word used to describe such practitioners: starchitect) is best known for his unconventional creations-buildings that billow, swoop and shimmer.  read more »

Pittsburgh Turns 250 Years Old Today

iStock_000000202983XSmall.jpg

But instead of a nice birthday card, my home town of Pittsburgh could use a sympathy card. It’s been a tough last 100 years for a once great and powerful city.

The first 150 years were not so bad. On Nov. 25, 1758 British Gen. John Forbes named the city for prime minister William Pitt after chasing the French from the militarily and economically strategic triangle of land where the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers meet to form the Ohio.  read more »

Michigration: It's Not About Out-migration in Michigan

iStock_000004752263XSmall.jpg

Pertaining to brain drain hype, Michigan has no equal. So profound is the out-migration that a local broadcasting network coined a term: Michigration. This was in January of 2008. I did a little digging and discovered the fuel for the story was a United Van Lines study about Michigan’s net loss of residents.

Net population loss is often confused with emigration. Upstate New York, another brain drain case for a future article, is no exception. The Federal Reserve Bank branch in Buffalo issued a report that tried to clear up the confusion, explicitly stating the challenge is attracting more people instead of the assumed issue of retention.  read more »

King Bloomberg: New York City Mayor Run Amok

iStock_000004926182XSmall.jpg

When Mayor Bloomberg deployed his vast personal and political power to overturn the term limits law, he began to demystify the public relations image he had purchased at considerable expense.

It was only then that New Yorkers began to recognize the danger of making Gotham's wealthiest man its chief executive. That recognition is the reason his approval rating slipped by nine points in the latest Marist poll. The public chose a mayor; they didn't expect an elected monarch.  read more »

Understanding the Geography of the 2008 Election

morrillshiftmapinset.png

Scholars as well as pundits and politicians will study this remarkable election exhaustively. Many, including me, will use county data, because they are convenient and available. From a statistical point of view, counties are lousy units, because of huge variation in size and excess internal variability. But we can’t resist, so here are some at least suggestive findings.  read more »