Urban Issues

Why Jersey City is the New Brooklyn

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For hundreds of years, New York City has been viewed by Americans and foreigners alike as the default capital of the United States. Though not the official political capital city, New York, New York has been commonly viewed, and certainly among its own residents, as the de facto center for American culture, music, sports, food, and art.

Although far more people migrate out of the New York area than come, it remains a primary destination for those who—in the words of Frank Sinatra—want to be a part of it.  read more »

America’s Most Urban States

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To the untrained eye, looking at a map of metropolitan America can lead one to the conclusion that at least half the nation’s land area is covered by urbanization. This is illustrated by Figure 1 below, which is a Census Bureau map of metropolitan areas as defined in 2013. These areas cover approximately 1.675 million square miles, which represents 47 percent of the US land area.  read more »

The Great Vancouver Exodus: Why I’m Almost Ready to Leave the City

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It was one of those Sundays in early January when you wake up to bright, stark sunlight streaming through your blinds.

My fellow Vancouverites might know the one. It’s been grey and dreary for months. You open your curtains to a brave new world and see, with sudden, startling clarity, all of the dust that had gathered in the cracks of your life while you had been hibernating through the long winter.  read more »

Who Plans?: Jane Jacobs’ Hayekian Critique of Urban Planning

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"Cities are fantastically dynamic places, and this is strikingly true of their successful parts, which offer a fertile ground for the plans of thousands of people."

– Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities  read more »

Designing Suburbs: Beyond New Urbanism

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This essay is part of a new report from the Center for Opportunity Urbanism called "America's Housing Crisis." The report contains several essays about the future of housing from various perspectives. Follow this link to download the full report (pdf).

It is not primarily the fault of land developers that the American suburbs are thought to be dysfunctional and mundane. The blame belongs largely to the influence of boiler-plate zoning regulations combined with design consultants who seek the most minimum criteria allowed by city regulations.  read more »

"To the Suburb!" Lessons from Minorities and the New Immigrants

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This essay is part of a new report from the Center for Opportunity Urbanism called "America's Housing Crisis." The report contains several essays about the future of housing from various perspectives. Follow this link to download the full report (pdf).

When I was in college the suburbs were vilified. It was the mid-2000s, and here we were, enlightened coeds having one last hurrah in the flat Midwestern expanse before finding our place in the world, and there really was only one world to find: the city.  read more »

Hurdling the Obstacles to Millennial Home Ownership

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Justin Chapman contributed research and editorial assistance to this piece. This essay is part of a new report from the Center for Opportunity Urbanism called "America's Housing Crisis." The report contains several essays about the future of housing from various perspectives. Follow this link to download the full report (pdf).

If the United States could remove current obstacles holding back members of the Millennial Generation from owning homes, the value of the housing market would increase by at least one trillion dollars over the next five years. Policies that would eliminate or sharply reduce financial obstacles that are currently hindering thirty somethings who want to start raising a family in the suburbs from buying a home would enable the construction and sale of as many as five million more homes between now and 2020. Residential investment represents about five percent of the country’s GDP, not counting the ancillary spending that results from such purchase. So any sound housing policy for the United States should begin and end with programs that allow these “missing Millennials” to join the ranks of America’s home owners.  read more »

Spreading the Wealth: Decentralization, Infrastructure, and Shared Prosperity

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This essay is part of a new report from the Center for Opportunity Urbanism called "America's Housing Crisis." The report contains several essays about the future of housing from various perspectives. Follow this link to download the full report (pdf).

The public’s preference and the views of the social and intellectual elite has never been greater.  read more »

Levittowns of the Future

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This essay is part of a new report from the Center for Opportunity Urbanism called "America's Housing Crisis." The report contains several essays about the future of housing from various perspectives. Follow this link to download the full report (pdf).

“...a social revolution was being made, not by storming barricades, but by leaping over them.”

Seven decades ago, the great post- war American suburbanization began. The seminal development was Levittown, built on potato fields in Nassau County, outside New York City. This archetypical development, with its small houses and modest lots, helped launch a suburbanizing trend that has accounted for virtually all of the population growth in the nation’s largest metropolitan areas. Today’s new houses are at least three times the size of the early Levittown houses, but they reflect the continued preference for suburban communities over the last half century.  read more »

Saying Goodbye. Again.

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December was a record month. I’ve said goodbye to five different households of friends and neighbors. Two more are on the fence – and the fence is leaning precariously. I’m pretty aggressive when it comes to reaching out and making new friends. I practically drag people off the street and force them to eat dinner in my kitchen. But even I can’t make friends fast enough to keep up with the attrition. San Francisco is a tough town these days, even for the comfortably prosperous.  read more »