Yuri Gagarin’s Brave, Brilliant Leap into the Dark

yuri.jpg

Yuri Gagarin was my hero. For a child just nine years old on 12 April 1961, the day he flew into space, he appeared intrepid, unassuming, and cool. Above all, he appeared in black and white. This was not the glossy, sunlit, bright blue Florida-sky ethic of American efforts in space, all NASA aluminium foil and silver crewcuts in magazines such as Life. No, with Gagarin there was something grittier, more documentary, something altogether scarier than Cape Canaveral.  read more »

Subjects:

Los Angeles: The MTA's Bus Stop Strategy

Los Angeles Metro Bus.jpg

Those who run the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority evidently believe that, since the Consent Decree that forced it to improve service to its bus riders has expired, they are free to rewrite history to justify Metro's elimination of nine bus lines, its reductions in service on eleven more, and its overall elimination of four percent of its bus service hours by attempting to show that MTA bus service is little utilized and not cost-effective.  read more »

A Requiem for "High-Speed Rail"

rail-track.jpg

In the interest of maintaining some balance and perspective on what the Administration proudly calls "President Obama's bold vision for a national high-speed rail network," at InnovationBriefs we have tried to offer our readers a range of different points of view. It is in this spirit that we present below two commentaries.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Dallas-Fort Worth

dallas-flowers.jpg

The Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area (Note 1), which corresponds to the Dallas-Fort Worth urban area, provides a casebook example of expanding urbanization. Dallas-Fort Worth has been one of the fastest growing major metropolitan areas in the nation for decades. Dallas-Fort Worth was among only three US metropolitan areas adding more than 1,000,000 residents between 2000 and 2010. Only Houston's addition of 1,230,000 exceeded that of Dallas-Fort Worth, which grew by 1,210,000, a 23.4 percent growth rate.  read more »

China, Detroit, and Houston: How Ghost Properties Compare

Shenzhen- Luxury Apartments in China.jpg

Learning about China's property boom and its "ghost" cities has given me a whole new perspective on my four decades in the building, land development and consulting fields. During these periods our economy has had various ups and downs. In ‘up’ times, the rise in construction of new housing and growth in commercial developments has been quite obvious. What I have always had a problem understanding is why there seemed to be new housing projects and commercial projects that sprouted up during the bad times.  read more »

Local Stakeholders Debate Changes to San Francisco Neighborhood Demographics

castro.jpg

Despite one of the highest population densities in California and a prohibitive cost of living, San Francisco keeps packing them in. Figures released by the U.S. Census last month show that "the City" added 28,502 people during the last ten years, a modest population bump of 3.7 percent from 2000.  read more »

Cities and the Census: Cities Neither Booming Nor Withering

nyc-haze.jpg

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

victoria-terminus.jpg

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

mumbai-slums.jpg

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?

calif-coast.jpg

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 »