Urban Issues

The End of the Line: Ambitious High-speed Rail Program Hits the Buffer of Fiscal Reality


A well-intentioned but quixotic presidential vision to make high-speed rail service available to 80 percent of Americans in 25 years is being buffeted by a string of reversals. And, like its British counterpart, the London-to-Birmingham high speed rail line (HS2), it is the subject of an impassioned debate. Called by congressional leaders "an absolute disaster," and a "poor investment," the President’s ambitious initiative is unraveling at the hands of a deficit-conscious Congress, fiscally-strapped states, reluctant private railroad companies and a skeptical public.  read more »

The Best Cities For Minority Entrepreneurs


As the American economy struggles to recover, its greatest advantage lies with its diverse population. The U.S.’ major European competitors — Germany, Scandinavia, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Italy — have admittedly failed at integrating racial outsiders. Its primary Asian rivals, with the exception of Singapore, are almost genetically resistant to permanent migration from those outside the dominant ethnic strain.  read more »

Hanoi’s Underground Capitalism


Along the pitted elegance of Pho Ngo Quyen, a bustling street in Hanoi, Vietnam, you will, predictably, find uniformed men in Soviet-style uniforms, banners with Communist Party slogans, and grandfatherly pictures of Ho Chi Minh. Yet, capitalism thrives everywhere else in this community — in the tiny food stalls, countless mobile phone stores and clothing shops  offering everything from faux European fashion to reduced-price children’s wear,  sandals and sneakers.  read more »

The Accelerating Suburbanization of New York


Some of the best evidence that the tide has not turned against dispersion and suburbanization comes from an unlikely source:  New York’s 2010 census results. If dense urbanism works anywhere in America, it does within this greatest of US traditional urban areas.  read more »

Vietnam, No Longer an Underdeveloped Country


The most recent estimates for 2010 indicate that Vietnam is no longer among the underdeveloped countries of the world and has moved onto the ranks of middle-income countries.  Financial remittances – better known as money being sent back to the home country – have lent a critical hand in accomplishing this major triumph in the country’s formerly depressed economy.

The influx of money by overseas Vietnamese, many of whom fled as political refugees, has dramatically changed the economic landscape of the country in terms of poverty levels and development.  read more »

Census 2010 Offers Portrait of America in Transition


The Census Bureau just finished releasing all of the state redistricting file information from the 2010 Census, giving us a now complete portrait of population change for the entire country.  Population growth continued to be heavily concentrated in suburban metropolitan counties while many rural areas, particularly in the Great Plains, continue to shrink.  read more »

NY Borough to Borough Commute? Fuhgeddaboudit

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As the country’s largest and densest metropolis, New York City has been able to offer a level of public transit service that most other cities can only dream about. Commuting to Downtown or Midtown Manhattan has been—and still is to a large degree—a remarkably easy affair for hundreds of thousands of residents, whose travel options include commuter train, subway, ferry and bus. However, like a lot of older American cities, New York has changed dramatically since most of those services were put into place, and more and more residents, particularly among lower-income workers, no longer travel to Manhattan for work.

Census data show that between 1990 and 2008 the number of residents who traveled to work in their own borough or a neighboring borough or county increased much faster than the number who made the more traditional commute to Manhattan.  read more »

The High Speed Rail Battle of Britain


A high speed rail battle is brewing in Great Britain, not unlike the controversies that have lit up the political switchboard in the United States over the past six months.

The Department for Transport has announced a plan to build a "Y" shaped high speed rail route that would connect Leeds and Manchester, to Birmingham, with a shared line on to London and London's Heathrow Airport.  read more »

Actually, Cities are Part of the Economy


“The prosperity of our economy and communities is dependent on the political structures and mechanisms used to manage and coordinate our economic systems.”

No politician expecting to be taken seriously would say that today.  read more »

Asthma: The Geography of Wheezing

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Are you familiar with the Hygiene Hypothesis? The HH — or, as some of us call it, the “pound of dirt theory” — is grabbing attention again. A minor medical press feeding frenzy followed the publication in the New England Journal of Medicine of a study based on data from Europe. The summary?  read more »