Urban Issues

Neither Olympics Nor NFL Will Rescue Los Angeles


We all tend to have fond memories of our greatest moments, and for Los Angeles, the 1984 Olympics has served as a high point in the city’s ascendency. The fact that those Summer Games were brilliantly run, required relatively little city expenditure and turned a profit confirmed all those things we Angelenos loved about our city – its flexibility and pragmatism and the power of its civic culture.  read more »

Family Friendly Cities


One of the common criticisms leveled at people who promote urban living goes something like this. “Cities are great for college kids, people starting off in their careers, bohemians, and maybe some older empty nesters with money who have a taste for theater and art. But most people have families and tight budgets. Suburbia is the only place that provides a high quality, safe, affordable life for regular folks with children.”  read more »

The Comeback Of The Great Lakes States


For generations the broad swath of America along the Great Lakes has been regarded as something of a backwater. Educated workers and sophisticated industries have tended to gather in the Northeast and on the West Coast, bringing with them strong economic growth.  read more »

Traffic Congestion: The Latest Urban Mobility Report Ratings


In recent years there has been a proliferation of traffic congestion rating reports. Tom Tom and Inrix are now making it possible to compare traffic congestion in Louisville or even Lexington to Moscow or Paris. The Castrol Magnatic Start-Stop Index adds places like Jakarta and Bangkok.  read more »

America’s Shrinking Cities Are Gaining Brains


If there’s one thing that’s a nearly universal anxiety among cities, it’s brain drain, or the loss of educated residents to other places. I’ve written about this many times over the years, critiquing the way it is normally conceived.

Since brain drain seems to be a major concern in shrinking cities, I decided to take a look at the facts around brains in those places. Looking at the 28 metro areas among the 100 largest that had objective measures of shrinkage – in population and/or jobs – between 2000 and 2013, I looked what what happened to their educational attainment levels.  read more »

An Improbable And Fragile Comeback: New Orleans 10 Years After Katrina


In the fall of 2005, many saw in postdiluvial New Orleans another example of failed urbanization, a formerly great city that was broken beyond repair.Yet 10 years after a catastrophe that drove hundreds of thousands of its citizens away, the metro area has made an impressive comeback.  read more »

The Challenge of the Digital City


The people we associate with don't necessarily live right next to us. This is more common than ever before, as social media and other communication technologies allow us to stay connected with people across the globe. But as our urban social networks – the ones that define our lives in cities – continue to transcend traditional geographic boundaries, we must strike a balance along this line.  read more »


A Visit to Kazan


St. Petersburg and Moscow are typical destinations in Russia, but if you’re looking for other places to visit, where do you go? I can’t claim to answer that question as I have not fully surveyed the realm, but I did visit the city of Kazan for a day, so want to share a few observations and photos.  read more »

California: "Land of Poverty"


For decades, California's housing costs have been racing ahead of incomes, as counties and local governments have imposed restrictive land-use regulations that drove up the price of land and dwellings. This has been documented by both Dartmouth economist William A Fischel and the state Legislative Analyst's Office.  read more »

Goodbye, Single Family Home? But wait…..


New urbanist utopians love to decry Americans’ love of the single family home, and to extol the virtues of a higher-rising denser city as more efficient and environmentally responsible. Without expounding on the immensely destructiveness of such a utopian viewpoint to physical and psychological well-being of a large majority of people, nor of the scientific absurdity of the claim of efficiency and  environmental goodness, I will for now present only some maps and data of what the real world is like.  read more »