Urban Issues

The Evolving Urban Form: Barcelona


Among those for whom Paris is not their favorite European city, Barcelona often fills the void. Barcelona is the capital of Spain's Catalonia region. Catalonia has been in the news in recent weeks because of the rising a settlement for independence from Spain, or at a minimum, considerably expanded autonomy. In part, the discontent is driven by a concern about the extent to which more affluent Catalonia subsidizes the rest of Spain. Another driving factor is the interest in separating Catalonian language and culture from that of Spain.  read more »

Top Cities for Engineers Based on Actual vs. Expected Wages


EMSI recently developed a methodology for calculating expected wages for occupations by region. The analysis is aimed at helping us better understand what regional earnings should be given the performance of a set of standardized occupations that are ubiquitous, stable, and diverse across the US economy. It’s a bit like the consumer price index, just for occupations.

Read more about that here.  read more »

Where Do You Live?


I recently moved to Providence, Rhode Island, where I live in the town of West Warwick. I’ve been learning the place more and soaking in New England culture (and seafood). This area has a Rust Belt type profile: declining population, post-industrial economic landscape, high unemployment, etc. So I’ve been trying to get a handle on conditions and think a bit about what the opportunities are.  read more »

Cooling Off: Why Creative California Could Look to Western New York


Sometimes the stakes are bogus, sometimes the fast lane hits a fork.
Sometimes southern California wants to be western New York
–Lyrics from Dar Williams’ song “Sometimes California Wants to Be Western New York”.

For long, making cultures and making people have been deemed outmoded. It is largely a knowledge economy. And since knowledge has been diverging into “spiky locales” known to be hotbeds of innovation, consider it a double whammy, as most of the relevant geographies are on the coast. The middle of the country is thus irrelevant if you care to survive. It is a man with a pitchfork in a sea of MacBook’s and iLife’s.  read more »

Flocking Elsewhere: The Downtown Growth Story


The United States Census Bureau has released a report (Patterns of Metropolitan and Micropolitan Population Change: 2000 to 2010.) on metropolitan area growth between 2000 and 2010. The Census Bureau's the news release highlighted population growth in downtown areas, which it defines as within two miles of the city hall of the largest municipality in each metropolitan area.  read more »

The Hollow Boom Of Brooklyn: Behind Veneer Of Gentrification, Life Gets Worse For Many


After a decade of increasingly celebrated gentrification, many believe Brooklyn — the native borough of both my parents — finally has risen from the shadows that were cast when it became part of New York City over a century ago.  Brooklyn has gotten “its groove back” as a “post-industrial hotspot,” the well-informed conservative writer Kay Hymowitz writes, a perception that is echoed regularly by elements of a Manhattan media that for decades would not have sullied their fingers wr  read more »

A Look at Commuting Using the Latest Census Data


Continuing my exploration of the 2011 data from the American Community Survey, I want to look now at some aspects of commuting.

Public Transit

Public transit commuting remains overwhelmingly dominated by New York City, with a metro commute mode share for transit of 31.1%. There are an estimated 2,686,406 transit commuters in New York City. All other large metro areas (1M+ population) put together add up to 3,530,932 transit commuters. New York City metro accounts for 39% of all transit commuters in the United States.  read more »

The Road Less Understood


The Economist confuses ends (objectives) and means in its current number examining the peaking of per capita automobile use in the West in two articles ("The http://www.economist.com/node/21563327" and "Seeing the Back of the Car").  read more »

America’s Last Politically Contested Territory: The Suburbs


Within the handful of swing states, the presidential election will come down to a handful of swing counties: namely the suburban voters who reside in about the last contested places in American politics.

Even in solid-red states, big cities tilt overwhelmingly toward President Obama and the Democrats, and even in solid-blue ones, the countryside tends to be solidly Republican.  read more »

Rethinking Brand Chicago


So many Midwest places flail around looking for a brand image or identity. Not Chicago. In fact, the identity and stories of Chicago overflow the page. They are too numerous to be written in a mere blog posting.

Yet Chicago has in effect decided to jettison that powerful, historic brand identity in favor of a type of global city genericism. This, I believe, is a mistake.

One trend you can’t help but notice if you travel is the increasing homogenization of the urban culture and standard of urban development. Global markets demand standardized commodities that can be graded and traded. This includes cities. This forces cities increasingly into a standard model of what one expects.  read more »