Urban Issues

California Recovery: No, It Is Not East vs. West

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Every now and then, some East Coast based publication sends a reporter out to California to see how the West Coast's economy is doing.  I think they write these things sitting at a restaurant patio overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  That can be seductive, and lulled into a comfortable sense that all is well with the world, the reporter always gets it wrong.   read more »

Alternative Growth Paths for Sydney: A New Report and its Implications

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Population growth in Australia is double the world average and the New South Wales Department of Planning has projected that the population of the Sydney region will increase by 57,000 people annually. How will these extra people be housed?  The NSW Government follows the usual doctrines based on higher population densities. Its planning policy, known as The Metropolitan Strategy, works on locating some 70% of new dwellings within existing urban communities (in-fill) and 30% in new greenfield sites.   read more »

The Urban US: Growth and Decline

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The urban population of the United States is now 249 million, according to the 2010 Census, 81 percent of the total. This is impressive, and not all surprising for a large developed economy. Yet the urban population --- meaning cities, suburbs and exurbs --- is not everything. And in many ways for everything from food, resources and recreation, the urban areas still depend on the nearly sixty million who live in rural America  read more »

Still Moving to the Suburbs and Exurbs: The 2011 Census Estimates

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The new 2011 Census Bureau county and metropolitan area population estimates indicate that Americans are staying put. Over the past year, 590,000 people moved between the nation's counties. This domestic migration (people moving within the nation) compares to an annual rate of 1,080,000 between the 2000 and 2009. Inter-county domestic migration peaked in 2006 at nearly 1,620,000 and has been falling since that time (Figure 1).  read more »

Peyton Manning for President?

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Is the free agency of Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, or the trade of the evangelic Tim Tebow to the New York Jets a far more compelling story than anything yet to emerge from the presidential election news?

Compared with Peyton Manning’s dignified handling of his neck injuries and his complicated departure from Indianapolis, Mitt Romney seems about as stately as those hair-rinsed, middle-aged men who show up on halftime advertisements with that Viagra look in their eye. (In Romney’s case he is trying to get a few primary delegations to head upstairs.)  read more »

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Smart Growth: The Maryland Example

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This is Part Two of a two-part series.

Evidence that people just don’t like Smart Growth is revealed in findings from organizations set up to promote Smart Growth. In 2009, the Washington Post reported, “Scholars at the National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education found that over a decade, smart growth has not made a dent in Maryland's war on sprawl.”  read more »

Smart Growth and The New Newspeak

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It’s a given in our representative system that policies adopted into law should have popular support. However, there is a distinction to be made between adopting a policy consistent with what a majority of people want, and pushing a policy while making dubious claims that it harnesses “the will of the people.”  read more »

Buffalo, You Are Not Alone

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It hurts. When a bigtime Harvard economist writes off your city as a loss, and says America should turn its back on you, it hurts. But Ed Glaeser’s dart tossing is but the smallest taste of what it’s like to live in place like Buffalo. To choose to live in the Rust Belt is to commit to enduring a continuous stream of bad press and mockery.

I write mostly about the Midwest, but whether we think Midwest or Rust Belt or something else altogether, the story is the same. From Detroit to Cleveland, Buffalo to Birmingham, there are cities across this country that are struggling for a host of historic and contemporary reasons. We’ve moved from the industrial to the global age, and many cities truly have lost their original economic raison d’etre.  read more »

Gary Hustwit's "Urbanized" Re-lighting Debate on Cities

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Gary Hustwit’s new film, “Urbanized,” is the third in his series of documentaries concerning design.  In his first two films, he looks at consumer product design and the global visual culture.  The existential problem of the city, an urgent one about which much of this website is concerned, is scarcely treated in our contemporary mainstream, and Hustwit’s effort is laudable. In this film, he tackles urban design, introducing ideas about how cities should – and should not – accommodate growth.  “Urbanized” tends to favor the big idea over the small, and airs the conventional wisdom of the urban design community.  In doing so, he brings to the public an important debate, but he misses some opportunities to explore change in the urban realm.  read more »

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How A Baby Bust Will Turn Asia's Tigers Toothless

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For the last two decades, America’s pundit class has been looking for models to correct our numerous national deficiencies. Some of the more deluded have settled on Europe, which, given its persistent low economic growth over the past 20 years and minuscule birth rates, amounts to something like looking for love in all the wrong places.  read more »