Urban Issues

Megalopolis and its Rivals


Jean Gottman in 1961 coined the term megalopolis (Megalopolis, the Urbanized Northeastern Seaboard of the Unites States) to describe the massive concentration of population extending from the core of New York north beyond Boston and south encompassing Washington DC. It has been widely studied and mapped, including by me. (Morrill, 2006, Classic Map Revisited, Professional Geographer).  The concept has also been extended to describe and compare many other large conurbations around the world.

Maybe it’s time to see how the original has fared?   And what has happened to other metropolitan complexes in the US, most notably Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and should we say Florida?  read more »

Review: The Great Inversion and the Future of the American City


Is gentrification the “fifth great migration,” that will fill old downtowns with upper-middle-class white folks, while the tract mansions of the outer ring become slums for immigrants? So suggests Alan Ehrenhalt, the former executive editor of Governing magazine. In The Great Inversion and the Future of the American City, he proposes that a demographic shift is under way that is reversing generations of suburbanization and white flight.  read more »


As Filmmaking Surges, New Orleans Challenges Los Angeles


For generations New Orleans‘ appeal to artists, musicians and writers did little to dispel the city’s image as a poor, albeit fun-loving, bohemian tourism haven. As was made all too evident by Katrina, the city was plagued by enormous class and racial divisions, corruption and some of the lowest average wages in the country.  read more »

Census Estimates: Slowing Metropolitan Growth and the Future of the Exurbs


Recently the Census Bureau released 2011 county and metro area population estimates that showed overall slowing population growth and particularly showing slow to halting growth in exurban counties.

Someone once said to me about Chicago’s Mayor Daley that if he did something you liked, he was a visionary genius leader, but if he did something you hated, he was a corrupt machine dictator.

That seems to be how too many urbanists view the Census Bureau.  read more »

California Declares War on Suburbia II: The Cost of Radical Densification


My April 9 Cross Country column commentary in The Wall Street Journal (California Declares War on Suburbia) outlined California's determination to virtually outlaw new detached housing. The goal is clear:    force most new residents into multi-family buildings at 20 and 30 or more to the acre.  read more »

California Recovery: No, It Is Not East vs. West


Every now and then, some East Coast based publication sends a reporter out to California to see how the West Coast's economy is doing.  I think they write these things sitting at a restaurant patio overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  That can be seductive, and lulled into a comfortable sense that all is well with the world, the reporter always gets it wrong.   read more »

Alternative Growth Paths for Sydney: A New Report and its Implications


Population growth in Australia is double the world average and the New South Wales Department of Planning has projected that the population of the Sydney region will increase by 57,000 people annually. How will these extra people be housed?  The NSW Government follows the usual doctrines based on higher population densities. Its planning policy, known as The Metropolitan Strategy, works on locating some 70% of new dwellings within existing urban communities (in-fill) and 30% in new greenfield sites.   read more »

The Urban US: Growth and Decline


The urban population of the United States is now 249 million, according to the 2010 Census, 81 percent of the total. This is impressive, and not all surprising for a large developed economy. Yet the urban population --- meaning cities, suburbs and exurbs --- is not everything. And in many ways for everything from food, resources and recreation, the urban areas still depend on the nearly sixty million who live in rural America  read more »

Still Moving to the Suburbs and Exurbs: The 2011 Census Estimates


The new 2011 Census Bureau county and metropolitan area population estimates indicate that Americans are staying put. Over the past year, 590,000 people moved between the nation's counties. This domestic migration (people moving within the nation) compares to an annual rate of 1,080,000 between the 2000 and 2009. Inter-county domestic migration peaked in 2006 at nearly 1,620,000 and has been falling since that time (Figure 1).  read more »

Peyton Manning for President?

Peyton Manning at the Podium.jpg

Is the free agency of Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, or the trade of the evangelic Tim Tebow to the New York Jets a far more compelling story than anything yet to emerge from the presidential election news?

Compared with Peyton Manning’s dignified handling of his neck injuries and his complicated departure from Indianapolis, Mitt Romney seems about as stately as those hair-rinsed, middle-aged men who show up on halftime advertisements with that Viagra look in their eye. (In Romney’s case he is trying to get a few primary delegations to head upstairs.)  read more »