Urban Issues

Columbus, Know Thyself

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What Is Your Ambition?

Columbus doesn’t have a powerful brand in the market outside of Ohio. Having said that, the city is growing rapidly in population and jobs, is extremely livable and improving day by day, and seems to make its residents very happy. Is there any reason the city has to be better nationally known in order to be complete or something?

I say No.  It’s a valid choice to simply stay with the status quo.  read more »

Shaking Off The Rust: Cleveland Workforce Gets Younger And Smarter

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In virtually every regional economic or demographic analysis that I conduct for Forbes, Rust Belt metro areas tend to do very poorly. But there’s a way that they could improve, based in large part on the soaring cost of living in the elite regions of California and the Northeast. And one of the rustiest of them appears to be capitalizing on the opportunity already: that perpetual media punching bag, Cleveland.  read more »

Will the World’s Emerging Megacities Turn the Corner? For Most of Them, Probably Not

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Two distinct expressions of urbanism, the global city and the mega city, are often conflated in the public’s mind. This can lead people to implicitly link the future fortunes of megacities (urban regions of more than 10 million people) with the success of global cities (defined roughly as a very important node at the high end of the global economy), especially as there’s overlap between the two types. They can then assume that the world’s emerging megacities will ultimately be successful, maybe even very successful.  read more »

From Jurisdictional to Functional Analysis of Urban Cores & Suburbs

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The 52 major metropolitan areas of the United States are, in aggregate, approximately 86 percent suburban or exurban in function. This is the conclusion from our new City Sector Model, which divides all major metropolitan zip codes into four functional categories, based on urban form, population density and urban travel behavior. The categories are (1) Pre-Auto Urban Core, (2) Auto Suburban: Earlier, (3) Auto Suburban: Later and (4) Auto Exurban.  read more »

California’s Green Bantustans

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One of the core barriers to economic prosperity in California is the price of housing. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Policies designed to stifle the ability to develop land are based on flawed premises. These policies prevail because they are backed by environmentalists, and, most importantly, because they have played into the agenda of crony capitalists, Wall Street financiers, and public sector unions.  read more »

Know Your City's Marketplace Leverage

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I’ve noticed so often that urbanist policy suggestions or case studies are treated as universals. That is, with a presumption that a good idea or policy can be replicated pretty much anywhere. Clearly, there are a number of items like bike lanes and trails that would appear to be widely applicable, and for which the best practice standards would appear to work without much modification in most places. On the other hand, this isn’t true of everything.  read more »

The Cities Winning The Battle For Information Jobs 2014

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In the town of Verona on the rural fringes of Madison, Wisc., there’s a Google-like campus that houses one of the country’s most rapidly growing tech companies, and one of the least well known. Founded in 1979, the medical software maker Epic has grown to employ 6,800 people, most of whom work at its 5.5 million-square-foot headquarters complex, which sprawls over 800 acres of what was farmland until the early 1990s.  read more »

From Anecdotes to Data: Core & Suburban Growth Trends 2010-2013

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According to the Wall Street Journal, there are "Signs of a Suburban Comeback." This is a turnaround from the typical media coverage of US population estimates in recent years, which have more often than not heralded a "return to the cities" generally more rooted in anecdote than data.

There were always at least two problems with the "return to the city" thesis. First of all, most people who live in the suburbs came from areas outside metropolitan areas and they couldn't return to where they had never lived (see Cities and Suburbs: The Unexpected Truth). More importantly, in every year for which there is data, the net inward migration to suburbs has been far greater than to the core counties, which have nearly always had net outward migration (see Special Report: 2013 Metropolitan Area Population Estimates. Under these conditions, there could not have been net migration from the suburbs to the core municipalities.  read more »

Is Something Wrong With Chicago’s Suburbs?

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I previously talked about Connecticut becoming a suburban corporate wasteland as well as the rise of the executive headquarters in major global city downtowns.  read more »

China's Ascent in World Transport

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After years of closing the gap with the United States, China built enough freeways in 2013 to amass the greatest length of freeways in the world. Between 2003 and 2013, China expanded its national expressway system, with interstate (motorway in Europe) standard roadways from 30,000 to 105,000 kilometers (18,000 to 65,000 miles). This compares to the 101,000 kilometers (63,000 miles) in the United States in 2012.  read more »