Small Cities

Economic Civil War

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Our national divide is usually cast in terms of ideology, race, climate, and gender. But it might be more accurate to see our national conflict as regional and riven by economic function. The schism is between two ways of making a living, one based in the incorporeal world of media and digital transactions, the other in the tangible world of making, growing, and using real things.  read more »

A Path to Pandemic Relief in the 'Burbs'

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A shift in residential demand to suburban and exurban locations is nearly a year old in the pandemic.

It’s said to stem from households’ desire for more private space (as well as school and crime concerns), combined with greater flexibility to work from home. But public spaces are also an attribute of distance from the city center. Unlike most urban respites, parklands in the ‘burbs tend to have enough elbow room during most times of the year.  read more »

Strong Communities Need Public Spaces — and Private Enterprise

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We need parks and libraries and town squares for gathering. We also need shops, restaurants, and other commercial amenities.  read more »

Quality Of Life, Or Quantity Of Lives?

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Anyone who's been in the urbanism game as long as I have (or longer) is probably familiar with the annual Places Rated Almanac, the annual metro area ranking reference produced by David Savageau. First published in 1981, I remember seeing each year's edition in bookstores while I was in high school and college, and it was the first attempt I could remember at evaluating the positives and negatives of place, and ranking them accordingly.  read more »

Can We Save the Planet, Live Comfortably, and Have Children Too?

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The Covid-19 pandemic has brought about what Zillow calls “the great re-shuffling,” as more people head out of major metropolitan areas to work, often remotely, in less dense, even rural areas.  read more »

The Case for American Optimism

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Now that Trump has been edged out of office, Joe Biden may emerge as the harbinger of a brighter, better blue future or as a version of Konstantin Chernenko, the aged timeserver who ran the Soviet Union in its dying days. To succeed, he will have to confront massive pessimism about America’s direction, with some 80 percent thinking the country is out of control. The Atlantic last year compared the U.S. to a “failed state,” while The Week predicts “dark days ahead.”  read more »

The Big Moves: Where People Are Moving

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For decades, New York has been the leading exporter of people to other states, though has been severely challenged since 2000 by California. During five years around the housing bust, more net domestic migrants left California than New York. Then, for a time, California’s annual losses were not quite as severe  read more »

Why Trump's America Will Live On

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Like many, if not most Americans, I am somewhat relieved to see the petulant, nasty and sometimes clearly unhinged Donald Trump leave the White House. Yet for all his antics and vitriol, Trump has left a legacy that will be difficult to ignore and, given the dispensation of his opponents, could shape the future for the next decade.  read more »

America Isn't Falling Apart. It's Still the Land of Opportunity

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More than 840,000 green card holders became citizens last year, the most in a decade. Over 10 percent of the American electorate was born elsewhere, the highest share in a half-century. All of Donald Trump’s huffing and puffing could not stop this demographic evolution; nor could an endless stream of stories about what an unequal, unfair, and no good place America has supposedly become.  read more »

Ownership and Opportunity: a new report from Urban Reform Institute

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In a new report from Urban Reform Institute edited by Joel Kotkin, J.H. Cullum Clark and Anne Snyder explore what happens when opportunity stalls. Pete Saunders and Karla Lopez del Rio tell the story of how homeownership enabled upward mobility for their respective families. Wendell Cox quantifies the connection between urban containment policies and housing affordabilty.  read more »