Urban Issues

The Urban Frontier Cabin

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The current conundrum for many people is simple. You might want to live in one of the expensive bubbles of economic and cultural vibrancy in order to access good paying jobs and upward mobility. But the cost of property and rent are insane. You could live in a radically less expensive part of the country where homes and rent are mercifully low, but not everyone longs for a tract home on the edge of Houston. I’ve argued for years that there are all sorts of cost effective towns and cities in the Midwest that are far better than many people assume.  read more »

The Urban Humanism Manifesto: Putting Communities First

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Urban planning exists to serve people and communities, not the other way around. Unfortunately, urban planners these days, perhaps under the influence of academic arrogance as well as the lure of developer dollars, seem to forget this simple truism.  read more »

Subjects:

Eyes From the Street – The Neighbourhood Fabric That Matters

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In the 50 plus years since Jane Jacobs coined the phrase “eyes on the street”, most planners have taken it as an article of faith. After all, some argue, it is common sense. But as we found out when looking at complex, self-organising systems such as cities, common sense is woefully inadequate to explain, let alone predict, outcomes.  read more »

World Megacity Growth Lags – Smaller Cities Grow More

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Never in history have so many people lived in urban areas (that is, outside rural areas). There are now 37 megacities (urban areas with more than 10 million residents) in the world, according to the 14th Annual Demographia World Urban Areas. This represents a substantial increase over the past century. But most urban growth, contrary to popular belief, is not taking place in megacities but in large urban areas that have not achieved megacity status.  read more »

Suburbs Could End Up On the Cutting Edge of Urban Change

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Over the past decade, the old urban model, long favored by most media and academia, became the harbinger of the new city. We were going back to the 19th century, with rising dense urban cores, greater densities and thriving transit systems.  read more »

Population Transformation in Pittsburgh and Chicago

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Out of the 53 metro areas with more than a million people, only four lost population last year. The two biggest losers were Pittsburgh and Chicago.

Both cities are ones where a significant cadre of local boosters brush off population loss, arguing that a closer look shows that they actually are undergoing a demographic transition that is actually putting them in a stronger position. So let’s take a look.  read more »

The Urban Containment Effect (Zoning Effect) on Australian House Prices

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In delivering the Annual Report of the Bank to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics, Finance and Public Administration on August 18, 2006, (now former) Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Ian MacFarlane expressed concern about Australia’s house prices, which had escalated severely in relation to incomes.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Paris

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Probably no city inspires the romance of Paris, which has been a principal object of writers for centuries. The Paris they have written about is limited almost exclusively to the small geography of the ville de Paris, which has expanded from 1.7 square miles (4.3 square kilometers) in the 14th century to 40.5 square miles (105.0 square kilometers) in 1860, its latest annexation (Note). The ville de Paris is however, by no means all of Paris, representing less than four percent of the land in the built-up urban area, and little more than 0.5 percent of the metropolitan area.  read more »

California's Dense Suburbs and Urbanization

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Many observers think California urban areas are more geographically expansive ("lower density" or to use the pejorative term, more "sprawling") then those elsewhere in the nation, especially the Northeast Corridor, which runs from the Washington DC metropolitan area through Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Hartford, Providence to Boston. This obsolete view is a leftover from the pre-automobile city of more than a century ago, when the largest American cities (metropolitan areas) had far higher urban densities, smaller suburban expenses, and no cars.  read more »

Will Density Make Housing Affordable?

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California left-wingers who want to densify cities to make them affordable are getting some push-back from other left-wingers who think density will push low-income people out of neighborhoods.  read more »