Urban Issues

The Collapse of Chicago Media

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When the satirical humor weekly The Onion announced it was moving its editorial staff from New York to Chicago it was considered quite a coup by boosters of the Windy City. Yet the hoopla surrounding revealed more about Chicago’s decline as a media center than any significant uptick. This includes news of a staff rebellion at the Onion in which writers attempted to scotch the move, with some ultimately deciding not to come. The strong celebration of a relatively small relocation in the grand scheme of things also shows a city looking hard for good media news where there has been so much bad recently.  read more »

Will Servants' Quarters Come Back, Too?

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As the Great Recession enters its fourth summer, America continues to separate into the multiple economic strands that characterized an earlier day. Our cities, built mostly since the 1930s, poorly accommodate this lack of unity, and will require radical revision if our class divisions continue to deepen.

Back in the era of the streetcar suburbs, at the turn of the 20th century, we also experienced a tiered, multiple economy. The post-Victorian prosperous middle class had carved itself new residential beltways around inner core cities – the so-called “suburbs”. The look  read more »

Thunder On The Great Plains: A Written-Off Region Enjoys Revival

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They may not win their first championship against Miami’s evil empire, but the Oklahoma City Thunder have helped to put a spotlight on what may well be the most surprising success story of 21st century America: the revival of the Great Plains. Once widely dismissed as the ultimate in flyover country, the Plains states have outperformed the national average for the past decade by virtually every key measure of vitality — from population, income and GDP growth to unemployment — and show no sign of slowing down.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Tokyo

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Tokyo is the ultimate in urbanization, being nearly one-half larger than any other urban area in the world. Further, Tokyo has retained its position as the largest urban area in the world for longer than any period since London's approximately 100 year run from the early 1800s to the early 1900s. During the 1920s, New York became the largest, but was displaced by Tokyo in 1955.  read more »

Historic Heritage of the Rust Belt

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I’ve been spending a lot of time in Ravenna recently. No, not the town in Italy with its early Christian buildings and glittering mosaics. I mean Ravenna, Ohio, a small industrial city of some 12,000 people near Akron.   read more »

Cities, Cars, People: Is Changing Car Use a Function of New Urbanism?

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One cornerstone for urban designers and planners seeking to transform the polycentric or suburban city of the 20th Century into something resembling the high density city of the 19th was a cross-city comparison by Newman and Kenworthy and successors.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Cairo

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Cairo, Egypt's capital, has long had some of the highest neighborhood population densities in the world. In the 1960s it was reported that one neighborhood had a density of 353,000 people per square mile (136,000 per square kilometer).  read more »

Is Perestroika Coming In California?

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When Jerry Brown was elected governor for a third time in 2010, there was widespread hope that he would repair the state’s crumbling and dysfunctional political edifice. But instead of becoming a Californian Mikhail Gorbachev, he has turned out to be something more resembling Konstantin Chernenko or Yuri Andropov, an aged hegemon desperately trying to save a dying system.  read more »

How To Build a Culture of Bike Safety

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As I've settled into life in Florida, I've found myself for the first time using a bicycle as a form of transportation instead of as a form of leisure activity. And, as an urban designer involved in a team that designs bicycle and pedestrian master plans, I've become increasingly aware of the factors that make urban bike use a feasible — or not so feasible — choice.  read more »

Subjects:

Facebook’s False Promise: STEM's Quieter Side Of Tech Offers More Upside For America

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Facebook‘s botched IPO reflects not only the weakness of the stock market, but a systemic misunderstanding of where the true value of technology lies. A website that, due to superior funding and media hype, allows people to do what they were already doing — connecting on the Internet — does not inherently drive broad economic growth, even if it mints a few high-profile billionaires.  read more »