Urban Issues

Generation X's Moment Of Power Is Almost Here


It certainly seems as if boomers are in charge in America now, with Donald Trump about to move into the White House and members of the generation in the majority in Congress. Meanwhile, huge attention has been paid over the past few years to the emergence of the boomers’ children, the millennials, on the national scene. But relatively little thought has been accorded to the group sandwiched between the two mega-generations: Generation X.  read more »

Progressives Have Let Inner Cities Fail for Decades. President Trump Could Change That.


When Donald Trump described the “devastating” conditions in America’s inner cities, emphasizing poor schools and lack of jobs, he was widely denounced for portraying our urban centers in a demeaning and inaccurate way, much as he had been denounced previously for his supposed appeal to “racial exclusion” when he asked black voters “what the hell do you have to lose” by backing him.  read more »

Edward Hopper’s Rockford


I had dinner in Rockford, Illinois recently with Jennifer and Michael Smith of the City Smiths. You will never find a more charming, kind, and industrious couple. Any town would be lucky to have such passionate and engaged citizens.  read more »

Trump and California's Economy


Defenders of California’s status-quo claim to be proud of California’s economic growth and worry about what Trump will do to that growth. If you are so impolite as to mention that this has been California’s slowest recovery in 70 years, as the following chart shows, you will be told that slow growth is good. It avoids the excesses of previous business cycles.  read more »

“There Can’t Be a Successful Indianapolis Without a Successful Indiana”


Back in 2008 or 2009 I gave a Pecha Kucha presentation in Indianapolis in which I said:

"Cities can’t survive on gentrification alone. The broad community has to be a participant in its success. That’s why I’m somewhat down on the notion of the creative class. It’s good as far as it goes, but it’s a self-consciously elitist vision. Where’s the working class in that?  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Houston


Houston is a city (metropolitan area) of superlatives. The most recent Brookings Institution data shows that Houston has the seventh strongest per capita economy (gross domestic product) in the world (Figure 1). This places Houston above New York and more surprisingly, perhaps, other cities perceived to have strong economies are far below Houston and outside of the top 10, such as London, Tokyo and Chicago.  read more »

How Silicon Valley’s Oligarchs Are Learning to Stop Worrying and Love Trump


The oligarchs’ ball at Trump Tower revealed one not-so-well-kept secret about the tech moguls: They are more like the new president than they are like you or me.

In what devolved into something of a love fest, Trump embraced the tech elite for their “incredible innovation” and pledged to help them achieve their goals—one of which, of course, is to become even richer. And for all their proud talk about “disruption,” they also know that they will have to accommodate, to some extent, our newly elected disrupter in chief for at least the next four years.  read more »

Advancing the Texan City-Building Model


Reading the recent report “The Texas Way of Urbanism” promptly reminded me of my status – twice a migrant; from small town to big city (Athens) and from big city to another country. These moves were propelled by a singular motivation: seeking opportunity to better my lot. I knew next to nothing about the cities I moved to: their shape and history, their culture, their social divisions and even language were absent from my viewfinder. All that mattered was the chance for a new start.  read more »

Sydney Lurches to Housing Affordability Disaster


Now and again Australia erupts in controversy about housing affordability. Each time it follows the same course. Some new statistic or media story confirms that prices are out of control. A senior politician is prompted to call for deregulation and more supply, and is backed-up by the property industry. Then come progressive policy wonks saying no, the issue is high investor demand stimulated by tax concessions. Next emerge the welfare lobby, calling for tax reform as well as more social housing and “inclusionary zoning”.  read more »

The End of Eyes on the Street


Jane Jacobs talked about the “sidewalk ballet” of her neighborhood and the importance of eyes on the street. But her conception of that, one where shopkeepers policed the sidewalks in front of their stores and kept an eye out for neighborhood kids, is far away from what we have today.

My latest post looking at this is over at City Journal and is called “The End of Eyes on the Street“:  read more »