Urban Issues

Obama Fuel Economy Rules Trump Smart Growth

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has just finalized its regulation requiring that new cars and light trucks (light vehicles) achieve average fuel efficiency of 54.5 miles per gallon (MPG) by 2025 (4.3 liters per 100 kilometers). This increase in the "CAFE" standard (Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency) is the second major step in the Obama Administration's program to improve light vehicle fuel efficiency. In 2010, EPA adopted regulations requiring 35.5 MPG average by 2016 (6.6 liters per 100 kilometers).  read more »

The Creative Destruction of Creative Class-ification

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Bits and pieces of ideal cities have been incorporated into real ones; traffic projects and housing schemes are habitually introduced by their sponsors as at least preliminary steps to paradise. The ideal city gives us the authority to castigate the real one; while the sore itch of real cities goads us into creating ideal ones. Jonathan Raban, from Soft City

There’s a spot in Cleveland that is becoming what many had hoped for: a bit vibrant, a bit hip, with breweries, local retail, and farm-to-table restaurants turning that hard rawness of a disinvested Rust Belt city strip into a thing less raw.  read more »

Livable China

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Recently, the McKinsey Global Institute published its report 'The Most Dynamic Cities in 2025' in Foreign Policy, a highly respected US journal. On this list, 27 mainland Chinese cities as well as Hong Kong took top spots alongside Shanghai and Beijing, leaving many other world-renowned metropolises far behind.

As a Chinese who has lived through China's transformation over the past two decades, I was hardly surprised by the results of this report. What really shocked me was the doubt and controversy that this report generated in western media, especially the negativity in the heated discussions published in the very same issue of Foreign Policy.  read more »

Evolving Urban Form: São Paulo

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São Paulo is Brazil's largest urban area and ranks among the top 10 most populous in the world. Between 1950 and 1975, São Paulo was also among the globe’s fastest growing urban areas. For two decades starting in 1980 São Paulo ranked fourth in population among the world's urban areas, but has been displaced by much faster growing urban areas like Manila and Delhi.  read more »

Anorexic Vampires and the Pittsburgh Potty: The Story of Rust Belt Chic

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“Rust Belt Chic is the opposite of Creative Class Chic. The latter [is] the globalization of hip and cool. Wondering how Pittsburgh can be more like Austin is an absurd enterprise and, ultimately, counterproductive. I want to visit the Cleveland of Harvey Pekar, not the Miami of LeBron James. I can find King James World just about anywhere. Give me more Rust Belt Chic.” Jim Russell, blogger at Burgh Diaspora

National interest in a Rust Belt “revival” has blossomed. There are the spreads in Details, Atlantic Cities, and Salon, as well as an NPR Morning Edition feature. And so many Rust Belters are beginning to strut a little, albeit cautiously–kind of like a guy with newly-minted renown who’s constantly poking around for the “kick me” sign, if only because he has a history of being kicked.  read more »

Regionalism: Spreading the Fiscal Irresponsibility

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Stanley Kurtz's new book, Spreading the Wealth: How Obama is Robbing the Suburbs to Pay for the Cities describes political forces closely tied to President Obama who have pursued an agenda to "destroy" the suburbs for many years.  read more »

Form Follows Zoning

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When Louis Sullivan, purveyor of modern American high-rise architecture, said more than 100 years ago that ‘Form Follows Function’, he perhaps didn’t realize the extent to which building form would not be determined only by building type and the laws of physics, but by zoning laws, building safety codes, real estate developer balance sheets and even vocal neighborhood groups.  read more »

Cities of Aspiration

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Drew Klacik’s recent post on how he ended up in Indianapolis got me thinking about the unique status of what I’d describe as “cities of aspiration.” Pretty much all cities seem to be reasonably good at attracting people in the following cases:  read more »

Why I Do Live in Indianapolis

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When a friend constantly tells you how much he or she likes you and then one day says, “But I’d never live with you,” the predictable reaction is to feel hurt and angry. That’s how I felt when The Urbanophile posted “Why I Don’t Live in Indianapolis.”

But last night, while riding my bike on one of Indianapolis’ many bike trails (yes, we have them), I started thinking about why I do live in Indianapolis. The answer surprised me.  read more »

Is California the New Detroit?

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Most Californians live within miles of its majestic coastline – for good reason. The California coastline is blessed with arguably the most desirable climate on Earth, magnificent beaches, a backdrop of snow-capped mountains, and natural harbors in San Diego and San Francisco. The Golden State was aptly named. Its Gold Rush of 1849 was followed a century later by massive post-war growth.  read more »