Urban Issues

Is the Census Bureau On Track For Another Estimating Fiasco?

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When the 2010 Census results were released, a number of big cities had populations that were very off from what would have been expected based on the Census Bureau’s previous annual estimates of the population – sometimes grossly so.  Some of these were related to cities that had challenged the estimates and had adjustments made in their favor, such as Cincinnati and St. Louis. Given that the Census Bureau seems to have approved every challenge, bogus challenges were all but encouraged.  Still, there were significant variances in cities that didn’t challenge the Census, such as Chicago and Phoenix.   read more »

How Can We Be So Dense? Anti-Sprawl Policies Threaten America's Future

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Among university professors, government planners and mainstream pundits there is little doubt that the best city is the densest one. This notion is also supported by a wide number of politically connected developers, who see in the cramming of Americans into ever smaller spaces an opportunity for vast, often taxpayer-subsidized, profiteering.  read more »

In the Spotlight: Higher Ed Degree Output by Field and Metro

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It might stem from the dot-com crash, the increased popularity of certifications and onsite employer training, or various other reasons. Regardless, the key finding from EMSI and CareerBuilder’s analysis of higher education degree output over the last decade is still eye-opening: Computer and IT degrees completed in the U.S. have declined 11% since 2003.  read more »

Distortions and Reality about Income Mobility

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A ground-breaking study of intergenerational income mobility has the enemies of suburbia falling all over themselves to distort the findings. The study, The Spatial Impacts of Tax Expenditures: Evidence from Spatial Variation Across the U.S. (by economists Raj Chetty and Nathaniel Hendren of Harvard University and Patrick Kline and Emmanuel Saez of the University of California, Berkeley). Chetty, et al.  read more »

The Childless City

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What is a city for? Ever since cities first emerged thousands of years ago, they have been places where families could congregate and flourish. The family hearth formed the core of the ancient Greek and Roman city, observed the nineteenth-century French historian Fustel de Coulanges. Family was likewise the foundation of the great ancient cities of China and the Middle East. As for modern European cities, the historian Philippe Ariès argued that the contemporary “concept of the family” itself originated in the urbanizing northern Europe shown in Rembrandt’s paintings of bourgeois life. Another historian, Simon Schama, described the seventeenth-century Dutch city as “the Republic of Children.” European immigrants carried the institution of the family-oriented city across the Atlantic to America. In the American city until the 1950s, urbanist Sam Bass Warner observed, the “basic custom” was “commitment to familialism.”  read more »

E-Shopping Bubbling While Retail Bums Along

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We recently explored the post-recession tsunami of online retail and discovered that e-shopping’s future is anything if not bright. According to a report by Forrester Research, by 2016, not only are 192 million U.S. consumers projected to be be clicking “checkout” (up 15% since 2012), but those 192 million will also be spending an average of 44% more.  read more »

Aspirational Cities: U.S. Cities That Offer Both Jobs and Culture Are Mostly Southern and Modest Sized

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A city at its best, wrote the philosopher René Descartes, provides “an inventory of the possible.” The city Descartes had in mind was 17th-century Amsterdam, which for him epitomized those cities where people go to change their circumstances and improve their lives. But such aspirational cities have existed throughout American history as well, starting with Boston in the 17th century, Philadelphia in the 18th, New York in the 19th, Chicago in the early 20th, Detroit in the 1920s and 1930s, followed by midcentury Los Angeles, and San Jose in the 1980s.  read more »

Manufacturing in Los Angeles: A Test Case in Why Increasing Concentration Isn’t Always a Positive

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What comes to mind when you think of Los Angeles’ big industries? Motion pictures and other entertainment sectors, yes. Real estate and corporate headquarters, too. But probably not manufacturing.

No other sector, however, contributes more to the Los Angeles metro area’s gross regional product – the final market value of all goods and services in a region – than manufacturing. It accounted for 11% of L.A.’s GRP in 2012, narrowly beating out the real estate and rental and leasing sector (10%).  read more »

Is the “Rust Belt” a Dirty Word?

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Many people hate the term “Rust Belt”. They dislike the aesthetics of the Rust Belt. For others, the term is less loaded, but rather a moniker denoting who we are. Consider me in the latter camp. But I often cross paths with those who loathe the term, or more exactly any notion of there being a Rust Belt culture.  read more »

Detroit, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?

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Thou wouldst fain destroy the temple! If thou be Jesus, Son of the Father, now from the Cross descend thou, that we behold it and believe on thee when we behold it. If thou art King over Israel, save thyself then!

God, My Father, why has thou forsaken me? All those who were my friends, all have now forsaken me. And he that hate me do now prevail against me, and he whom I cherished, he hath betrayed me.

Lyric excerpts from the Fifth and Fourth and Words, respectively, of the Seven Last Words of Christ orchestral work by Joseph Haydn.

I’m pissed.  read more »