The Digitally Connected City

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We are witnessing an explosion in digital technology that is reshaping cities… and resulting in a fundamental shift in the way people move and interact within the built environment.

New innovations have always had a profound impact on the evolution of cities, supporting commerce as well as addressing lifestyles. Making sense of the prevailing trajectory requires a new paradigm for city residents, visitors and those who govern.  read more »

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Live from Honolulu: HART Rail, a Megaproject Failure in the Making

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Typically very few people pay attention to the goings on in the small state of Hawaii. How bad can possibly things get there? Well, a lot of people recall Boston’s Big Dig, the nation’s largest infrastructure fiasco with a final price tag of about $15 billion. What if I tell you that tiny Honolulu is building a rail system that’s expected to cost at least one-half the cost of the Big Dig? On a per-capita basis it would be the nation’s largest infrastructure fiasco by far.  read more »

Cleveland Renaissance Fair

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So much talk of the Cleveland comeback with our downtown building boom and Republican National Convention-fueled makeover makes it difficult not to think about our mid-1990s civic renaissance. In 1995, The New York Times headline proclaimed " 'Mistake by the Lake' Wakes Up, Roaring" as downtown's stadiums and lakefront development created a "new face and new style of a city that for a long time had little panache."

But it wasn't just the media who became enchanted with our freshly minted charms — even the scholars were feeling it. The academics, however, had a Lake Erie-sized caveat. There was a divide in the region's comeback, noted the authors of the 1997 study "The Rise and Fall and Rise of Cleveland," with areas separated by characteristics of "capital investment and disinvestment, industrialization and deindustrialization, suburbanization and ghettoization, white flight and a black underclass, the growth of services, and a [high-skill and low-skill] dual economy."  read more »

Best and Worst: 2015 International Housing Affordability

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Housing affordability and its impact on   middle income households around the world is emerging as a major concern throughout the developed world. The largest element in household budgets is housing, and house prices have skyrocketed relative to incomes in many metropolitan areas, especially those that have adopted strict land use regulation (particularly urban containment, as described below).  read more »

Suicide: The New Curse for Boomers?

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We often associate suicide with the crises of youth, or the despair of the old. Yet the group that is now experiencing the biggest surge in suicide is in the Baby Boomer Generation; from about 14 percent in the year 2000 to about 19 percent in 2013. Baby boomers rose to 37.5% of all suicides in 2010. That is now the highest suicide rate of any existing age bracket (shown in figure 1). In order to find a way to reduce this percentage, one must understand why this is happening in the first place.  
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American Extremism is a Product of American Apathy

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Much research has gone into studying the political polarization that has gripped American politics. Why have the two American parties moved to the extremes? One explanation, championed by MIT Professor Noam Chomsky is that the Republicans have ceased to be a functioning party. Chomsky claims that the GOP has wholly given itself over to the rich, and in order to win elections has been forced to appeal to the radical fringes of American society, who he defines as Evangelicals, nativists, racists and gun fanatics.  read more »

In Southern California, It Takes an Assortment of Villages

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Among urban historians, Southern California has often had a poor reputation, perennially seen as “anti-cities” or “19 suburbs in search of a metropolis.” The great urban thinker Jane Jacobs wrote off our region as “a vast blind-eyed reservation.”

The Pavlovian response from many local planners, developers and politicians is to respond to this criticism by trying to repeal our own geography. Los Angeles’ leaders, for example, see themselves as creating the new sunbelt role model, built around huge investments Downtown and in an expensive, albeit underused, subway and light-rail network.  read more »

Why High Taxes Aren’t the Only Reason GE Left Connecticut

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General Electric, unhappy with a recent corporate tax increase in Connecticut, has now announced that it is relocating to Boston’s south waterfront. Indeed Connecticut’s tax climate is bad, ranking 44th according to the Tax Foundation, but GE’s move points to much bigger problems in the state.  I examine this in my new piece over at City Journal. Here’s an excerpt:  read more »

Is California’s Economy Swell?

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Every now and then, something happens to cause California’s comfortable establishment to celebrate the state’s economy.  Recent budget surpluses and jobs data have provided several opportunities, never mind that these are hardly summary statistics.  They don’t tell the complete story.  read more »

Around The World, The Tide Is Turning Against Megacities

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The massive construction waste collapse last month in Shenzhen reflects a wider phenomenon: the waning of the megacity era. Shenzhen became a megacity (population over 10 million) faster than any other in history, epitomizing the massive movement of Chinese to cities over the past four decades. Now it appears more like a testament to extravagant delusion.  read more »