Urban Issues

Reversing American Decline

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Across broad ideological lines, Americans now foresee a dismal, downwardly mobile future for the country’s middle and working classes. While previous generations generally did far better than their predecessors, those in the current one, outside the very rich, are locked in a struggle to carve out the economic opportunities and access to property that had become accepted norms here over the past century.  read more »

Population Growth as the Cure for the Incredible Shrinking City?

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The 1957 sci-fi classic The Incredible Shrinking Man reads like a Rust Belt city script. In it, the lead actor is afflicted with the anti-natural: shrinkage in a world of growth. The rest becomes existential. From the movie review blog “Twenty Four Frames”:  read more »

May the (Insidious) Force Be With You

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Google Earth pic to the left of the boundary between Detroit and suburban Grosse Pointe Park, MI. Alter Road (cutting from upper left to lower right) is the boundary between the two. Take note of the differences in vacant land between Detroit (on the left) and Grosse Pointe Park (on the right).
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Connecting Citizens to Economic Opportunity

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I recently received an email from the folks behind the Meetings of the Minds conference asking if I’d participate in a group blogging event they were doing by writing a post on the topic of “How can cities better connect all their residents to economic opportunity?” As this is a topic I personally care quite a bit about, I was happy to do so. They will be linking to responses to other people’s answers should you be interested.  read more »

Thinking About Housing in the Northwest

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With one of the most successful economies in the nation, the real estate news in the Pacific Northwest is positive and gives hope for a housing sector recovery, albeit at different rates in different markets. CNNMoney reports that from the third quarter in 2012 to the third quarter in 2013, the median home price in the Seattle-Bellevue and Everett area increased by 13.7%. The forecast for changes from the third quarter in 2013 to the third quarter in 2014 is another 5.2%.  read more »

The Best Small And Midsize Cities For Jobs 2014

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In the classic television show “The Honeymooners,” many jokes were wrung out of bus driver Ralph Cramden’s membership in the International Brotherhood of Loyal Raccoons, headquartered in Bismarck, North Dakota. When Ralph mentioned in one episode to his wife, Alice, that among the privileges is that they could be buried at the “Raccoon National Cemetery” in Bismarck, Alice’s reply was that it made her not know “if I want to live or die.”  read more »

Urban Core Jurisdictions: Similar in Label Only

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The fortunes of U.S. core cities (municipalities) have varied greatly in the period of automobile domination that accelerated strongly at the end of World War II. This is illustrated by examining trends between the three categories of "historical core municipalities" (Figure 1).  read more »

Are States an Anachronism?

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Obviously states aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, but a number of folks have suggested that state’s aren’t just obsolete, they are downright pernicious in their effects on local economies.

One principal exponent of this point of view is Richard Longworth, who has written about it extensively in his book “Caught in the Middle” and elsewhere. Here’s what he has to say on the topic:  read more »

Special Report: America's Emerging Housing Crisis

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This is the executive summary from a new report, America’s Emerging Housing Crisis, published by National Community Renaissance, and authored by Joel Kotkin and Wendell Cox. Download the report and the supplement report below.

From the earliest settlement of the country, Americans have looked at their homes and apartments as critical elements of their own aspirations for a better life. In good times, when construction is strong, the opportunities for better, more spacious and congenial housing—whether for buyers or renters—tends to increase. But in harsher conditions, when there has been less new construction, people have been forced to accept overcrowded, overpriced and less desirable accommodations.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Philadelphia

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Philadelphia was America's first large city and served as the nation's capital for all but nine months between the inauguration of George Washington is the first president in 1789 and the capital transferred to Washington, DC in 1800.

Before the early 1900s, the United States Census Bureau had not developed a metropolitan area (labor market area) concept. However, the website peakbagger.com has attempted to define earlier metropolitan areas based on concepts similar to those used today. In the case of Philadelphia, this is important, because it was somewhat unique in having virtually adjacent, highly populated suburbs that make comparisons of municipal populations (the only population data available) misleading.  read more »