Urban Issues

Chicago's Advantages


When I wrote that Chicago is the duck-billed platypus of American cities, I noted that there were a lot things about Chicago that were unique – both good and bad – putting it in a class of its own and making it hard to compare Chicago with other cities.  read more »

Fastest Metropolitan Area Growth Continues in Prairie Provinces


The latest Statistics Canada population estimates indicate that much of the nation's growth continues to be in the census metropolitan areas (CMAs) of the Greater Golden Horseshoe, centered on Toronto, and in the Prairie Provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

In addition to Toronto, the Greater Golden Horseshoe includes Hamilton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Oshawa, Brantford, Barrie, Peterborough St. Catherine's-Niagara and Guelph census metropolitan areas. The Prairie Provinces metropolitan areas are Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Saskatoon and Regina.  read more »

Homesteading Detroit


I was in Detroit recently for the Congress for New Urbanism, the Strong Towns gathering, and a Small Developers Workshop. I used Airbnb instead of the corporate hotel option while in town.  read more »

Outer California: Sacramento Sends Jobs (and People) to Nashville


A reader comment on a feature by John Sanphillipo (“Finally! Great New Affordable Bay Area Housing! Caught my eye.”). The comment ("You shouldn't have to go to Nashville") expressed an understandable frustration about the sad reality that firms leaving coastal California often skip right over the Central Valley “where the housing costs are reasonable, there are some lovely old homes on tree lined streets, the humidity is less, the mountains are nearby, and you can drive there in 2-3 hours rather than fly.”  read more »

Vote For Brexit Explodes the Myth of the Global City-State


The UK has voted to leave the European Union.

The Brexit campaign was revealing because it was based on the exact opposite of the urban triumphalist vision that so often dominates the discourse.  read more »

The U.S. Cities Where Manufacturing Is Thriving


Perhaps no sector in the U.S. economy generates more angst than manufacturing. Over the past quarter century, manufacturing has hemorrhaged over 5 million jobs. The devastation of many regional economies, particularly in the Midwest, is testament to this decline. If the information sector has been the golden child of the media, manufacturing has been the offspring that we pity but can’t comfortably embrace.  read more »

Southern California Still Best place to Get Creative


Over the past decade, Southern California has lagged well behind its chief rivals – New York and the Bay Area, as well as the fast-growing cities of the Sun Belt – in everything from job creation to tech growth. Yet, in what the late economist Jack Kyser dubbed “the creative industries,” this region remains an impressive superpower.

By creative industries, we mean not just Hollywood’s film and television complex, which remains foundational, but those serving a host of other lifestyle-oriented activities, from fashion and product design to engineering theme parks, games and food. We may be lagging Silicon Valley in technology and New York in finance or news media, but when it comes to entertaining people, and defining lifestyle, the Southland remains a powerful, even primal, force.  read more »

Dublin Facing Another Housing Bubble?


In a recent column in the Sunday Independent, Ireland's largest weekend newspaper, one of Ireland's leading economists, Colm McCarthy of University College (Dublin) raised the prospect another housing bubble in Dublin, Ireland's leading weekend newspaper. Dublin is the nation's capital and home to approximately 40% of the population.  read more »

What Happens When There’s Nobody Left to Move to the City?


Following up on the Pew study that found many states will face declining work age populations in the future, I want to highlight a recent Atlantic article called “The Graying of Rural America.” It’s a profile of the small Oregon town of Fossil, which is slowly dying as the young people leave and a rump population of older people – median age 56 – begin to pass on.

Like the Pew study, this one has implications that weren’t fully traced out.

There’s a lot of urban triumphalism these days, as cities crow about Millennials wanting to live downtown and such.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Detroit


Probably no city in the high income world evokes impressions of urban decline more than Detroit --- and for good reason. The core city of Detroit has lost more of its population than any developed world city of more than 500,000 since 1950. The city's population peaked at 1,850,000 residents in 1950 and at its decline rate since 2010 could drop below 650,000 residents by 2020 census.  read more »