Urban Issues

E-Shopping Bubbling While Retail Bums Along

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We recently explored the post-recession tsunami of online retail and discovered that e-shopping’s future is anything if not bright. According to a report by Forrester Research, by 2016, not only are 192 million U.S. consumers projected to be be clicking “checkout” (up 15% since 2012), but those 192 million will also be spending an average of 44% more.  read more »

Aspirational Cities: U.S. Cities That Offer Both Jobs and Culture Are Mostly Southern and Modest Sized

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A city at its best, wrote the philosopher René Descartes, provides “an inventory of the possible.” The city Descartes had in mind was 17th-century Amsterdam, which for him epitomized those cities where people go to change their circumstances and improve their lives. But such aspirational cities have existed throughout American history as well, starting with Boston in the 17th century, Philadelphia in the 18th, New York in the 19th, Chicago in the early 20th, Detroit in the 1920s and 1930s, followed by midcentury Los Angeles, and San Jose in the 1980s.  read more »

Manufacturing in Los Angeles: A Test Case in Why Increasing Concentration Isn’t Always a Positive

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What comes to mind when you think of Los Angeles’ big industries? Motion pictures and other entertainment sectors, yes. Real estate and corporate headquarters, too. But probably not manufacturing.

No other sector, however, contributes more to the Los Angeles metro area’s gross regional product – the final market value of all goods and services in a region – than manufacturing. It accounted for 11% of L.A.’s GRP in 2012, narrowly beating out the real estate and rental and leasing sector (10%).  read more »

Is the “Rust Belt” a Dirty Word?

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Many people hate the term “Rust Belt”. They dislike the aesthetics of the Rust Belt. For others, the term is less loaded, but rather a moniker denoting who we are. Consider me in the latter camp. But I often cross paths with those who loathe the term, or more exactly any notion of there being a Rust Belt culture.  read more »

Detroit, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?

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Thou wouldst fain destroy the temple! If thou be Jesus, Son of the Father, now from the Cross descend thou, that we behold it and believe on thee when we behold it. If thou art King over Israel, save thyself then!

God, My Father, why has thou forsaken me? All those who were my friends, all have now forsaken me. And he that hate me do now prevail against me, and he whom I cherished, he hath betrayed me.

Lyric excerpts from the Fifth and Fourth and Words, respectively, of the Seven Last Words of Christ orchestral work by Joseph Haydn.

I’m pissed.  read more »

What Detroit’s Bankruptcy Teaches America

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As has long been expected, the city of Detroit has officially filed for bankruptcy.  While many will point to the sui generis nature of the city as a one-industry town with extreme racial polarization and other unique problems, Detroit’s bankruptcy in fact offers several lessons for other states and municipalities across America.  read more »

XpressWest Las Vegas Train: Where are the Venture Capitalists?

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Recently, the US Department of Transportation indefinitely suspended a federal loan application for the XpressWest high-speed rail train from Victorville California to Las Vegas.  read more »

Singapore Needs A New Sling

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Over the past half century, the tiny city-state of Singapore has developed arguably the most successful formula for growth and social uplift on the planet. Like the famous Singapore sling — a tropical cocktail blending gin, grenadine, sweet and sour mix, cherry brandy and club soda — the city’s mandarins created the perfect recipe for rapid economic growth by combining its strategic location and hard-driving, largely Chinese population, with first-class infrastructure, a relentlessly improved local workforce and an opportunistic immigration policy designed to fill gaps in the labor pool.  read more »

A Suburban Economic Future?

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The basic, often unappreciated, fact  about economic life in Australia’s  metropolitan regions are that most of the jobs are in suburban locations. Our central business districts (CBDs) – prominent though they are – account for only around 10% of all metro wide jobs. That rises to maybe 15% if you include inner city areas. But still, 85% of everyone else who calls Brisbane, Sydney, or Melbourne home works somewhere other than the CBD or inner city.  read more »

Metropolitan Dispersion: 1950-2012

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America has become much more metropolitan since 1950, when the Office of Management and Budget released the first modern criteria for determining the boundaries of metropolitan areas. Metropolitan areas are the economic or functional definition of the "city." They are otherwise known as labor markets and include the physical "urban area" (the area of continuous development) as well as economically connected rural territory from which people commute into the urban area.  read more »