Urban Issues

Richard Florida Concedes the Limits of the Creative Class

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Among the most pervasive, and arguably pernicious, notions of the past decade has been that the “creative class” of the skilled, educated and hip would remake and revive American cities. The idea, packaged and peddled by consultant Richard Florida, had been that unlike spending public money to court Wall Street fat cats, corporate executives or other traditional elites, paying to appeal to the creative would truly trickle down, generating a widespread urban revival.  read more »

America's Fastest- and Slowest-Growing Cities

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Since the housing crash of 2007, the decline of the Sun Belt and dispersed, low-density cities has been trumpeted by the national media and by pundits who believe America’s future lies in compact, crowded, mostly coastal and northern, cities.  read more »

Chicago: Outer Suburban and Exurban Growth Leader

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Greg Hinz at Crain's Chicago Business congratulates Chicago for its nation-leading population growth. Heinz also notes that the far suburbs also gained population strongly, but there had been losses in the areas between the two. He asks: "the question now is whether the area can prosper with a thriving core but sinking neighborhoods and inner-ring suburbs around it."  read more »

The Psychology of the Creative Class: Not as Creative as You Think

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"Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower"
–Steve Jobs

Behind every sociological movement is a psychology. The ever-growing creative classification of America is no different. The following teases the psychology of the movement apart.

Why do this?

Because it is needed. The costs of blindly acquiescing to copycat community building are too great. These costs are not simply aesthetic, even economic, but are costs in the ability to distinguish creativity from repetition, and ultimately: truth from fiction.  read more »

Communities Need to Build Better Millennial Connections

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A remarkable, but mostly unnoticed, 2012 study found a powerful correlation between a community’s civic health and its economic well being. The analysis by the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) and its partners found that the density of non-profits whose purpose was to encourage their members’ participation within the community   correlated strongly with the ability of a locality to withstand the effects of the Great Recession.  read more »

The Age of Bernanke

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To many presidential idolaters, this era will be known as the Age of Obama. But, in reality, we live in what may best be called the Age of Bernanke. Essentially, Obamaism increasingly serves as a front for the big-money interests who benefit from the Federal Reserve's largesse and interest rate policies; progressive rhetoric serves as the beard for royalist results.  read more »

The Beauty of Urban Planning from the Ground

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In a piece called The Beauty of Urban Planning from Space, the Sustainable Cities Collective highlights views from space of uniquely designed street pattern designs in various cities around the world. There are ten examples that illustrate the zenith of urban planning.

As attractive as the street patterns are, they highlight the inevitable inability of designers, or anyone else for that matter, to influence much more than small changes in the overall urban form.  read more »

Gentrification and its Discontents: Notes from New Orleans

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Readers of this forum have probably heard rumors of gentrification in post-Katrina New Orleans. Residential shifts playing out in the Crescent City share many commonalities with those elsewhere, but also bear some distinctions and paradoxes. I offer these observations from the so-called Williamsburg of the South, a neighborhood called Bywater.

Gentrification arrived rather early to New Orleans, a generation before the term was coined. Writers and artists settled in the French Quarter in the 1920s and 1930s, drawn by the appeal of its expatriated Mediterranean atmosphere, not to mention its cheap rent, good food, and abundant alcohol despite Prohibition.  read more »

Gentrification and its Discontents: Cleveland Needs to Go Beyond Being Creatively Classed

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“Indeed, we have the know-how, but we do not have the know-why, nor the know-what-for”—Erich Fromm, social psychologist.

The question of how you “become” as a city has been weighing on me lately. Is it enough to get people back into the emptiness? Is it enough to pretty the derelict? I mean, is the trajectory of Cleveland’s success simply a collection of micro-everythings, start-ups, and occupancy rates? That is, is Cleveland’s reward simply the benefit of being creatively classed?  read more »

In California, Don't Bash the 'Burbs

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For the past century, California, particularly Southern California, nurtured and invented the suburban dream. The sun-drenched single-family house, often with a pool, on a tree-lined street was an image lovingly projected by television and the movies.  read more »