Anorexic Vampires and the Pittsburgh Potty: The Story of Rust Belt Chic

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“Rust Belt Chic is the opposite of Creative Class Chic. The latter [is] the globalization of hip and cool. Wondering how Pittsburgh can be more like Austin is an absurd enterprise and, ultimately, counterproductive. I want to visit the Cleveland of Harvey Pekar, not the Miami of LeBron James. I can find King James World just about anywhere. Give me more Rust Belt Chic.” Jim Russell, blogger at Burgh Diaspora

National interest in a Rust Belt “revival” has blossomed. There are the spreads in Details, Atlantic Cities, and Salon, as well as an NPR Morning Edition feature. And so many Rust Belters are beginning to strut a little, albeit cautiously–kind of like a guy with newly-minted renown who’s constantly poking around for the “kick me” sign, if only because he has a history of being kicked.  read more »

Need Your Water Treated? In the Philippines, Call a Mom & Pop Shop

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“The history of cities can be described as the history of water.” — UK Urbanist Matthew Gandy, 2003

In Cebu City, the second largest city in the Philippines, that particular history is being rewritten in a way never seen anywhere before. Contrary to the well-known major municipal water privatizations of the last two decades (including that of Manila), the existing utility in Cebu City is not functionally obsolete, nor has it been systematically de-funded in order to justify a contract with a private vendor. Here, the city’s individual entrepreneurs have bypassed the municipal provider on their own.  read more »

Subjects:

Regionalism: Spreading the Fiscal Irresponsibility

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Stanley Kurtz's new book, Spreading the Wealth: How Obama is Robbing the Suburbs to Pay for the Cities describes political forces closely tied to President Obama who have pursued an agenda to "destroy" the suburbs for many years.  read more »

Utah Up, Chicago Down: Why Mitt Romney Should Embrace His Mormonism

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In his run for the Republican nomination, Mitt Romney downplayed his Mormonism—referring only to “faith” or “shared values”—in the face of small-minded members of the Christian right and the occasional cackle from the Eastern cultural avant-garde.  read more »

America's Baby Bust: How The Great Recession Has Jeopardized Our Demographic Health

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At the turn of the century, America’s biggest advantage was its relatively vibrant demographics. In sharp contrast with its major competitors — the E.U., Russia, China, Japan — the United States had maintained a far higher birthrate and rate of population growth.  read more »

Form Follows Zoning

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When Louis Sullivan, purveyor of modern American high-rise architecture, said more than 100 years ago that ‘Form Follows Function’, he perhaps didn’t realize the extent to which building form would not be determined only by building type and the laws of physics, but by zoning laws, building safety codes, real estate developer balance sheets and even vocal neighborhood groups.  read more »

Cities of Aspiration

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Drew Klacik’s recent post on how he ended up in Indianapolis got me thinking about the unique status of what I’d describe as “cities of aspiration.” Pretty much all cities seem to be reasonably good at attracting people in the following cases:  read more »

Why I Do Live in Indianapolis

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When a friend constantly tells you how much he or she likes you and then one day says, “But I’d never live with you,” the predictable reaction is to feel hurt and angry. That’s how I felt when The Urbanophile posted “Why I Don’t Live in Indianapolis.”

But last night, while riding my bike on one of Indianapolis’ many bike trails (yes, we have them), I started thinking about why I do live in Indianapolis. The answer surprised me.  read more »

Is California the New Detroit?

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Most Californians live within miles of its majestic coastline – for good reason. The California coastline is blessed with arguably the most desirable climate on Earth, magnificent beaches, a backdrop of snow-capped mountains, and natural harbors in San Diego and San Francisco. The Golden State was aptly named. Its Gold Rush of 1849 was followed a century later by massive post-war growth.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Istanbul

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Istanbul is unique in straddling two continents. The historical city was concentrated on the European side of the Bosporus, the wide, more than 20 mile long strait linking the Sea of Marmara (Mediterranean Sea) in the south to the Black Sea in the north. Nearly all of the historic city was located on a peninsula to the south of the Golden Horn, an inlet off the Bosporus. By 1990, the urban area had expanded to occupy large areas on both sides of the Bosporus.  read more »