Density Boondoggles

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Is it density or migration? Venture capitalist Brad Feld weighs in:

The cities that have the most movement in and out of them are the most vibrant.

The densest city in the world won't be as vibrant as the city with the most talent churn. Yet planners and urbanists tout the former over the latter.  read more »

The World's Fastest-Growing Megacities

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The modern megacity may have been largely an invention of the West, but it’s increasingly to be found largely in the East. The seven largest megacities (defined as areas of continuous urban development of over 10 million people) are located in Asia, based on a roundup of the latest population data released last month by Wendell Cox’s Demographia.  read more »

Houston Rising—Why the Next Great American Cities Aren’t What You Think

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America’s urban landscape is changing, but in ways not always predicted or much admired by our media, planners, and pundits. The real trend-setters of the future—judged by both population and job growth—are not in the oft-praised great “legacy” cities like New York, Chicago, or San Francisco, but a crop of newer, more sprawling urban regions primarily located in the Sun Belt and, surprisingly, the resurgent Great Plains.  read more »

Progessives, Preservation & Prosperity

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Conservatives often fret that Barack Obama is leading the nation toward socialism. In my mind, that's an insult to socialism, which, in theory, at least, seeks to uplift the lower classes through greater prosperity. In contrast, the current administration and its core of wealthy supporters are more reminiscent of British Tories, the longtime defenders of hereditary privilege, a hierarchical social order and slow-paced economic change.  read more »

Green Office Towers Cast Shadow Over Sydney

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Known for her spiky hair, studded-collar and heels, Sydney’s Lord Mayor is the epitome of progressive chic. For a green activist, though, Clover Moore attracts some surprising company. Landlords owning 58 per cent of the CBD’s office space have rushed to join her Better Buildings Partnership, an alliance “to improve the sustainability performance of existing commercial and public sector buildings”.  read more »

Tokyo Dust: The Geography of Pollen

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TOKYO – The weather here is turning warmer, the cherry trees are blossoming and the waiting rooms in clinics that specialize in nose and eye problems are filling up with people suffering from runny noses, sneezing and bloodshot eyes.

Tokyo is known for many things: the Imperial Palace gardens, cherry trees in the springtime, super-crowded commuter trains. But it has a more dubious distinction. It is also the world capital for allergies, especially for hay fever, known to the Japanese as pollen sickness.  read more »

Subjects:

The Evolving Urban Form: Athens

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Around the fifth century BCE, Athens may have been the most important city in the West. Like China's Chang'an (modern Xi'an), the "on and off" capital of China, Athens has experienced many severe "ups and downs" throughout its remarkable history. At its ancient peak, Athens is estimated to have had more than 300,000 residents (historic population estimates vary greatly).  read more »

Does the Post Office Deliver in Today's Urban Culture?

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The postal service has been ravaged by enormous deficits and massive layoffs. It will inevitably see the closing of thousands of buildings. Planners have taken notice. Countless journalists have lamented the loss of post-office buildings, praised their often remarkable architecture and called for pressure to save them. These buildings are catalysts of “community”, the authors have suggested, citing the chance encounters of townspeople. Something is profoundly wrong, we are told, when community incubators are eradicated.  read more »

Subjects:

Why Inmigration Really Matters, Particularly to the Rust Belt

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Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson’s recent comment about immigration has drawn some local ire. At his annual remarks on the state of the city, the Mayor—in response to a question of how Cleveland can end its population decline by attracting immigrants—stated: “I believe in taking care of your own”.

To be fair, the Mayor contextualized the statement by inferring that the best attraction strategy is to build a city that works for those who reside in it. In some respects I agree. In fact America attracts immigrants not because of “attraction strategies”, but because it offers the prospects of a better quality of life. So, if a city can nail that down, well, that is a hell of a pull.  read more »

Will Obama Play his Aces?

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With the stock market hitting new highs, and unemployment easing, albeit slightly, President Obama can now seize his moment. After spending four years blaming George W. Bush for his lousy hand, the president now sits at the table with three strong aces among his cards.

The key question is: Will he play them?

One reason he might not is that most of his good hand stems primarily not from his stewardship but America's economic and demographic kismet. In fact, this resurgence is primarily not taking the "green," urban and high-tech form, as preferred by most coastal Democrats, but stems largely from the productive forces being unleashed in the nation's largely red heartland.  read more »