Urban Issues

Review: Driving Detroit, The Quest for Respect in the Motor City

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For more than a century, the city of Detroit has been an ideological and at times actual battleground for decidedly different views about the economy, labor and the role of government.  At one time it was the center of a can-do entrepreneurialism that helped launch the American automobile industry.  By 1914, for example, no fewer than 43 start-up companies were manufacturing automobiles in the city and surrounding region.  Following a wave of sit-down strikes that began almost immediately after FDR’s landslide victory in 1936, the economic character of the city changed dra  read more »

The Rise of the Third Coast

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In the wilds of Louisiana’s St. James Parish, amid the alligators and sugar plantations, Lester Hart is building the $750 million steel plant of his dreams. Over the past decade, Hart has constructed plants for steel producer Nucor everywhere from Trinidad to North Carolina. Today, he says, Nucor sees its big opportunities here, along the banks of the Mississippi River, roughly an hour west of New Orleans by car.  read more »

A Housing Preference Sea Change? Not in California

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For some time, many in the urban planning community have been proclaiming a "sea-change" in household preferences away from suburban housing in the United States.

Perhaps no one is more identified with the "sea-change" thesis than Arthur C. Nelson, Presidential Professor, City & Metropolitan Planning, University of Utah. Professor Nelson has provided detailed modeled market estimates for California in a paper published by the Urban Land Institute, entitled The New California Dream: How Demographic and Economic Trends May Shape the Housing Market: A Land Use Scenario for 2020 and 2035 (He had made generally similar points in a Journal of the American Planning Association article in 2006).  read more »

America’s Most Competitive Metros Since 2010

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The San Jose metro is adding jobs at a faster clip than any other large metro area in the U.S. since the recession. Houston, Austin, Detroit — and a handful of other metros — have also been stellar performers the last few years. But how much of the job growth in these and other metros can be explained by unique regional factors rather than national trends?  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Addis Abeba

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Addis Abeba is the capital of Ethiopia and calls itself the "diplomatic capital" of Africa, by virtue of the fact that the African Union is located here. Yet Ethiopia is still one of the most rural nations in both Africa and the world. Ethiopia also appears to be among the most tolerant. Various forms of Christianity claim account for approximately 65 percent of the population, with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (Coptic) holding the dominant share. At the same time there is a sizable Muslim minority, at more than 30 percent of the population.  read more »

Cities Flying Too Close to the Sun

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I was honored to speak at a conference in Milwaukee over the summer called Milwaukee’s Future in the Chicago Mega-City. Chicago and Milwaukee are about 90 miles apart on I-94. There’s an Amtrak link that makes the journey in about 90 minutes. The two cities have been sprawling such that there’s now more or less continuous development along the lakefront between the two cities. Milwaukee has been a challenged city economically and demographically.  read more »

Deep in the Heart of Texas: Private Donors Build a Medical Complex the Size of a Small City

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When Americans think of oil executives, they tend to conjure up the image of J. R. Ewing: slick smile, sharp suits, cowboy boots, and a 10-gallon hat packed with bluster, vanity, and greed. According to Gallup, no industry is more widely reviled than oil and gas—not even banking, real estate, or heath care. The poll found that 64 percent of Americans disapprove of its activities. Only the federal government fared worse.  read more »

Local Government in Ohio: More Accessible and More Efficient

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There is general agreement that smaller units of government are more responsive and accountable to their electorates. However, proponents of larger governments often claim that this advantage also creates   higher spending and tax levels. On this basis, bigger-is-better proponents often suggest consolidating local governments to save money. Such calls have increased in recent years, with the unprecedented fiscal difficulties faced by governments from the federal to local level.  read more »

The Rise of the Great Plains: Regional Opportunity in the 21st Century

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This is the introduction to a new report on the future of the American Great Plains released today by Texas Tech University (TTU). The report was authored by Joel Kotkin; Delore Zimmerman, Mark Schill, and Matthew Leiphon of Praxis Strategy Group; and Kevin Mulligan of TTU. Visit TTU's page to download the full report, read the online version, or to check out the interactive online atlas of the region containing economic, demographic, and geographic data.

For much of the past century, the vast expanse known as the Great Plains has been largely written off as a bit player on the American stage. As the nation has urbanized, and turned increasingly into a service and technology-based economy, the semi-arid area between the Mississippi Valley and the Rockies has been described as little more than a mistaken misadventure best left undone.  read more »

The Swaps of Damocles

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"Privileged people don't march and protest; their world is safe and clean and governed by laws designed to keep them happy...." Michael Brock in John Grisham's The Street Lawyer (Doubleday, 1998).

"There can be nothing happy for the person over whom some fear always looms…” Cicero, Tusculan Disputations 5.62, via Wikipedia.com  read more »