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Viewpoint: The urban future isn’t all about population booms

[Source: Froma Harrop, Providence Journal] — Sunbelt-and-sprawl advocate Joel Kotkin wrote two years ago that the future of American urbanism wasn’t in the “elite cities,” such as New York, Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, but in “younger, more affordable and less self-regarding places.”  He named (his order) Houston, Charlotte, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Dallas and Riverside, Calif.

Boom-city boosters like Kotkin play a numbers game, where the place with the biggest population explosion wins.  This is also a kind of Blue America-versus-Red America urbanology, which includes an element of liberal-bashing: Any place that refuses to be steamrolled by developers is called “elite.”

In the aftermath of the real-estate bust, areas overly dependent on building houses, selling houses and financing houses are in the worst shape.  Economies need non-bubble jobs.  Unemployment rates in the recent hyper-growth centers, Riverside and Las Vegas, are now well above those in the aforementioned “elite cities.”  And Boston’s 9 percent unemployment is only a point above that of the more economically diverse Sunbelt powerhouses: Houston, Dallas, and Phoenix.

There’s little point in pitting cities, regions and states against one another.  This is a big country.  One can like San Francisco for some things and Las Vegas for others.  By the way, what gave anyone the idea that Houston, Dallas and Phoenix are not “self-regarding”?  They are, as well they should be.  [Note: Read the full article at The urban future isn’t all about population booms.]

Viewpoint: Slow-growth achievements best route for urban renaissance

[Source: Joel Kotkin, Special to the Pittsburgh Tribune Review] — The current recession provides a new opportunity for Pittsburgh’s elite to feel good about itself.  With other boom economies from Phoenix to Miami on the skids — and other old Rust Belt cities like Detroit, Cleveland, and Buffalo even more down on their luck — the slow-growth achievements of the Pittsburgh region may seem rather impressive.  Yet at the same time, the downturn also poses longer-term challenges for which the local leadership is likely to have no answers.

In large part, Pittsburgh’s “success,” such as it is, has been based on what may be called a “legacy economy,” essentially funded by the residues of its rich entrepreneurial past.  This includes the hospitals, universities, and nonprofits whose endowments have underwritten the expansion of medical services and education, which have emerged as among the region’s few growth sectors.  [Note: To read the full article, read here.]

Where do Obama & McCain stand on urban issues?

Blogger Urban Agent does a great job in compiling information about the urban policy positions of U.S. Presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama.  Want to learn more?  Take a gander here.