Urban Issues

The Successful, the Stable, and the Struggling Midwest Cities


The Midwest has a deserved reputation as a place that has largely failed to adapt to the globalized world. For example, no Midwestern city would qualify as a boomtown but still there remain a diversity of outcomes in how the region’s cities have dealt with their shared heritage and challenges. Some places are faring surprisingly well, outpacing even the national average in many measures, while others bring up the bottom of the league tables in multiple civics measures.  read more »

Housing Downturn Update: We May Have Reached Bottom, But Not Everywhere


It is well known that the largest percentage losses in house prices occurred early in the housing bubble in inland California, Sacramento and Riverside-San Bernardino, Las Vegas and Phoenix. These were the very southwestern areas that housing refugees fled to in search of less unaffordable housing in California’s coastal metropolitan areas (Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and San Jose).  read more »

The Luxury City vs. the Middle Class


The sustainable city of the future will rest on the revival of traditional institutions that have faded in many of today’s cities.

Ellen Moncure and Joe Wong first met in school and then fell in love while living in the same dorm at the College of William and Mary. After graduation, they got married and, in 1999, moved to Washington, D.C., where they worked amid a large community of single and childless people.  read more »

Suburbs and Cities: The Unexpected Truth


Much has been written about how suburbs have taken people away from the city and that now suburbanites need to return back to where they came. But in reality most suburbs of large cities have grown not from the migration of local city-dwellers but from migration from small towns and the countryside.  read more »

Lenny Mills to Urban America: Clock Is Ticking for Ranks of ‘New Homeless’


I always do my best to make time for Lenny Mills because he’s earned that sort of consideration.

Mills is the fellow who wrote several pieces under the banner of his trademark “7 Rules” outline, where he applies the tricks he learned as a telemarketer to analyses of real estate development, politics, and other matters.  read more »

Austin's Secrets For Economic Success


Few places have received more accolades in recent years than Austin, the city that ranked first on our list of the best big cities for jobs. Understanding what makes this attractive, fast-growing city tick can tell us much about what urban growth will look like in the coming decades.

Austin's success is not surprising since, in many ways, it starts on third base. Two of its greatest assets result from the luck of the draw; it's both a state capital and home to a major research university.  read more »

Unsustainable Transit: New York City


When it comes to transit, as like many things in the United States, there is no place like New York City. The subways and buses of the New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA) carry more than 40 percent of the nation’s transit rides (unlinked trips). To account for 40 percent of the nation’s ridership is quite an accomplishment inasmuch as the city represents less than 3 percent of the nation’s population.  read more »

Lessons from Chrysler and the Nationalized Economy


Economists and accountants could very likely have told us six months ago that Chrysler was doomed as a business and that the likely best course of action would be Chapter 11 bankruptcy and restructuring. Doing this in a timely manner would have saved the taxpayers billions of dollars.

But the politics were not right to permit this to happen at that time. So instead we invested billions of tax dollars to save it, only to find ourselves right back were we started. Except now the clock is striking twelve and it is the right time to reorganize the automaker – politically speaking.  read more »

America's (Sub)Urban Future


Cities today have more political clout than at any time in a half century. Not only does an urbanite blessed by the Chicago machine sit in the White House, but Congress is now dominated by Democratic politicians hailing from either cities or inner-ring suburbs.

Perhaps because of this representation, some are calling for the administration and Congress to "bail out" urban America. Yet there's grave danger in heeding this call. Hope that "the urban president" will solve inner-city problems could end up diverting cities from the kind of radical reforms necessary to thrive in the coming decades.

Demographics and economics make self-help a necessity.  read more »

How Austin’s Rise Became a Tale of Two Cities


Austin has enjoyed healthy growth during its 150-year history. As a rule of thumb, its population doubles every 20 years, and has done so since it was founded. It continues to grow at a healthy clip: from a population of 345,000 in 1980 to 656,000 in 2000; the Census Bureau estimates it had nearly 750,000 residents in 2008.

But if the city of Austin has grown briskly, its suburbs have exploded. Williamson County to its north was the sixth fastest-growing county in the United States between July 1, 2007 and July 1, 2008. Hays County to the south was the tenth.  read more »