Urban Issues

Cities and the Census: Cities Neither Booming Nor Withering


For many mayors across the country, including New York City’s Michael Bloomberg, the recently announced results of the 2010 census were a downer. In a host of cities, the population turned out to be substantially lower than the U.S. Census Bureau had estimated for 2010—in New York’s case, by some 250,000 people. Bloomberg immediately called the decade’s meager 2.1 percent growth, less than one-quarter the national average, an “undercount.” Senator Charles Schumer blamed extraterrestrials, accusing the Census Bureau of “living on another planet.”  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Mumbai


The continuing dispersion of international metropolitan areas is illustrated by recently released 2011 Census of India preliminary data for the Mumbai "larger" metropolitan area. The historical core, the "island" district of Mumbai (Inner Mumbai) lost population between 2001 and 2011, while all growth was in suburban areas outside the historic core.  read more »

The Problem With Megacities


The triumphalism surrounding the slums and megacities frankly disturbs me. It is, of course, right to celebrate the amazing resilience of residents living in these cities’ massive slums. But many of the megacity boosters miss a more important point: that the proliferation of these sorts of communities may not be desirable or even necessary.  read more »

California: Club Med Meets Third World?


On March 25th, the Bureau of Labor statistics released a report that showed that California jobs had increased by 96,000 in February.  The state’s cheerleaders jumped into action. Never mind that the state still has a 12.2 percent unemployment rate, and part of the decline from 12.4 percent is because just under 32,000 discouraged workers left California’s labor force in February.   read more »

Bicycle Commuting: A US System and A World-Wide Guide

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To my pleasure, there is now a United States Bicycle Route System that goes more places than Amtrak and Greyhound do. Have a look at the proposed map of the national corridor plan.

The goal is to create clearly marked north-south and east-west routes, as romantic as the Oregon Trail or as functional as the Erie Canal. The trail of Lewis and Clark is on one of the routes.  read more »

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 »