Urban Issues

Chicago Is the American Metropolitan Platypus

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"What the hell is going on in Chicago?"

I must admit, when I first heard that statement from President Donald Trump, it angered me. The Donald has said a lot of cringe-worthy things over the years, but this struck a nerve.  read more »

New York’s Tech Sector Gobbling Up Real Estate

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Google, which already owns a gigantic building in Manhattan, is buying Chelsea Market for $2.4 billion. The NYT article about this gives some insight into the very strong growth of the tech sector in NYC.  read more »

From Disruption to Dystopia: Silicon Valley Envisions the City of the Future

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The tech oligarchs who already dominate our culture and commerce, manipulate our moods, and shape the behaviors of our children while accumulating capital at a rate unprecedented in at least a century want to fashion our urban future in a way that dramatically extends the reach of  read more »

Olympics Transportation: The L. A. Times Needn’t Worry

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The Trump Infrastructure plan has finally been released. The critics are out in force, especially those with particular interest in rapid transit. The plan would reduce funding to the federal “new starts” program, which provides funding for new urban rail and busway systems. The Los Angeles Times editorial board expressed angst at this proposal. According to The Times, the "…public transit building boom in L.A.  read more »

Rising Car Access Sends LA’s Transit Ridership Falling

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Transit ridership is down in a number of markets, but LA’s declines have attracted a lot of attention – and for good reason. LA has invested billions of dollars in rail transit but has failed to grow ridership, which is still below its 1985 levels. And ridership has actually been falling in recent years, even on the existing core rail lines. (New and expanded lines saw some growth).  read more »

Revisiting the "Big Theory" on American Urban Development

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I like to think I've come a long way since the start of this blog nearly six years ago. There are some early things I've written that have become the focal point of my work today, things I tried to tackle but were better left alone, and things I initiated and warrant a deeper look. This post certainly fits in that third category.  read more »

In Defence of Sydney's Westconnex Motorway

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The acrimonious battle over Australia’s largest motorway may be a case study in how class conflict plays out across the ‘post-industrial’ metropolis. On one side, inner-urban gurus of ‘liveability’ and ‘sustainability’ envisage a string of high-amenity havens for professionals in the weightless knowledge economy. On the other, a more dispersed population of workers in the material world of freight production, delivery and storage need efficient connections between a range of scattered industries and transportation hubs.  read more »

Doing Houston Wrong

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Last August, Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas, causing massive flooding in the Houston area and likely becoming one of the most expensive disasters (current estimate: $81.5 billion) in U.S. history. In the aftermath, Houstonians rallied to rebuild and look after one another, but they did so with the echoes of a persistent chorus of criticism ringing in their ears: Houston, critics said, was partially to blame for what had happened.  read more »

The Urban Revival Is an Urban Myth, and the Suburbs Are Surging

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The past decade has seen a gusher of books arguing for and detailing the supposed ascendency of dense urban cores, like the inimitable Edward Glaeser’s influential Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier, and about the ‘burbs as the slums of the future, abandoned by businesses and young people, like Leigh Gallagher’s  read more »

Playgrounds for Elites

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The revival of America’s core cities is one of the most celebrated narratives of our time—yet, perhaps paradoxically, urban progress has also created a growing problem of increasing inequality and middle-class flight. Once exemplars of middle-class advancement, most major American cities are now typified by a “barbell economy,” divided between well-paid professionals and lower-paid service workers.  read more »