Urban Issues

Waging a Green Jihad on Suburban Homes


It seems rarely a month passes without some new assault on the lifestyle and housing choice preferred by the overwhelming majority of Australians: the detached suburban home. Denigrated by a careless media as ”McMansions” or attacked as some archaic form of reckless housing choice which is suddenly “no longer appropriate” (according to some planning or environmental fatwa), the detached home is under a constant assault of falsely laid allegation and intellectual derision.  read more »

Beyond Words: A 9/11 Remembrance

Floating Lanterns, 9-11-2010, NYC.jpg

On September 7, 2001, a Friday, the communications staff of New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani gathered to plan for the week ahead. I had joined the Giuliani administration the previous April as a speechwriter, one of three on the mayor’s staff.

The biggest event on the schedule was the primary election on Tuesday, September 11, when New Yorkers would choose each party’s nominee to succeed Giuliani. The mayor would be casting his own ballot at Public School 66 on East 88th Street at 7 a.m., followed by a fairly routine round of staff meetings.  read more »

Ground Zero Tolerance: With No Politician Willing to Take Charge, the 9/11 Recovery has Dragged on Far Too Long


This piece originally appeared in the Village Voice.

A decade into its unhappy and unexpectedly long life, Ground Zero has undergone its annual if short-lived transformation from New York politicos' red-headed stepchild to belle of the ball, at least until September 12.  read more »

A Fly in the Econometrics? Exaggerating Urbanization


I was surprised to read in Science Digest that the increase in the urban land from 2000 to 2030 could be as much as 590,000 square miles (1.53 million square kilometers), which Science Digest went on to say would house an increase in the urban population of 1.47 billion people.  read more »

Applying Lessons from the UK Riots to Australia


Many commentators correctly attribute the UK rioting to decades of misgoverning and miseducating youth. Contributing to this has been the breakdown of family discipline, the replacement of working fathers as role models and the creation of a culture of entitlement. Tony Blair has talked about a breakdown in public morality. Less convincingly, many on the left have attributed the cause to the social expenditure cuts of the Cameron Government, cuts that have actually made barely a dent in the proceeding Blair/Brown years of tumescent expenditure growth.  read more »

High-density Housing Reflects Dense Government Thinking


Citizens in Australia’s major cities are becoming increasingly unhappy about what they perceive as the escalating deterioration in their quality of life - traffic congestion, overloaded public transport, unaffordable housing for young people, increases in the costs of basic services and overcrowding. There is little doubt that recent election results and unfavourable opinion polls are partly an expression of this dissatisfaction.  read more »

How to Save Chicago


The title raises the obvious question: Does Chicago need saving?

I guess the answer is clear. Aaron Renn published a reviewofthe 2010 census, and for Chicago it was not pretty. Since 2000 the city lost over 200,000 people: nearly 7.5% of its Black residents, and almost 6% on non-Hispanic Whites. Only the Hispanic population grew, but at an anemic 3.4%. Even the metro area writ large isn’t doing all that well, growing by only 3.9% (against the nation’s 10%).  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Beijing


China's capital, Beijing, has long been one of the world's largest urban areas. Some reports placed its population at over 1 million in 1800, which would have made Beijing the largest urban area  in the world at that time. Later in the nineteenth century, Beijing dropped below 1 million population, as London, Paris and later New York rose to prominence. As late as 1953, Beijing had a population of fewer than 3 million. Since then the city’s population has  increased more than six times (Figure 1).  read more »

Austin’s Not That Weird


Don’t let the cupcake stands fool you. For years, locals pressed the need to Keep Austin Weird. Besides spawning lazy clichés (Keep Austin Wired, Keep Austin Moving, Keep Austin on Every List of Best Places to Live), the Keep Austin Weird movement overlooks the obvious: the city’s not that weird.

Weird for Texas? Sure. Austin is like a rebellious preacher’s kid. It’s cool, popular, breaks all the rules, and doesn’t go to church very much. Family members from elsewhere visit from time to time, but everyone wonders if they’re all part of the same family.  read more »

Suburbanized Core Cities


The suburbs of major metropolitan areas captured the overwhelming majority of population growth between 2000 and 2010, actually increasing their share of growth, as has been previously reported. However, it is often not understood that much of the recent central city (Note 1) growth has actually been suburban in nature, rather than core densification. In fact, historical core cities (Note 2) vary substantially.  read more »