1. The two Forbes articles I wrote this week are about New York City mayor Bill de Blasio’s effort to modernize the city’s courts; and a tech program under New York governor Andrew Cuomo that failed colossally in year one.
2. The highlight of my week, though, came at the tail end on Saturday night, when I explored Miami’s Little Havana, a Cuban neighborhood outside of downtown. What surprised me was how Cuban it actually was, despite abutting one of the nation’s booming financial districts.… Read more
The state of New York, which lost 122,000 private sector jobs last decade, has botched its latest attempt to subsidize growth. After months of foot-dragging, the Empire State Development Corporation released a report last week about Start-Up NY, a program that it began under Governor Andrew Cuomo to attract tech innovation. Despite Cuomo’s promises, the report found that Start-Up NY spent millions in marketing dollars, while creating laughably small returns. Thus, it fits into the ESDC’s broader culture of failure, and should be a rebuke for someone who has presidential ambitions, yet reinforces the policies that have contributed to economic decline throughout New York. … Read more
On Tuesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a program to streamline the city’s criminal justice system. Called “Justice Reboot,” it will digitize various aspects of the city’s courts and jails, hopefully clearing up two backlogged institutions. The mayor launched it out of a “long-term commitment to bring the criminal justice system into the 21st century.” [read the rest at Forbes]… Read more
I’ve been busy this week writing, but still carved out time to walk Miami. The first thing that hit me was how much denser it got since I last visited in 2011. The downtown, once caked in human waste, is only halfway like this now; a few square blocks of cafes and bars have emerged just off the waterfront. New condos in nearby Brickell have turned it into a legitimate 24/7 neighborhood, with unique cultural status as a playground for young bankers.… Read more
When commentators discuss the U.S. cities with the least-affordable housing, they rarely mention Los Angeles. While dense coastal ones like New York, San Francisco, and Boston are considered exclusive, L.A. is sooner associated with the cheap and sprawling cities of the Sunbelt. This description would have been accurate in the mid-20th century, when the city’s unregulated growth made it a bane to architecture aesthetes, but great for middle-class prosperity. For decades, though, L.A. has copied the policies in these coastal hubs—and seen its affordability diminish. … Read more
It’s hard to be truly skeptical of a new idea these days, especially one coming from an American city. The reemergence of creative talent in our nation’s urban centers have made them ground-zero for many ingenious schemes. In the last decade alone, we have seen everything from pop-up parks, to digital apps that revolutionize whole industries, to “smart grids” that improve public services, and constant technological innovation leaves us wondering what will come next. But sometimes, new ideas really do seem stupid, and I can’t help but think this about the latest urban fad: vertical farming. … Read more
In late March, I left my hometown of Charlottesville, VA, to begin a cross-country trip. I figured some good first stops would be the beaches of South Carolina, so I packed my tanning lotion and reserved some nights in different waterfront hotels, which were being offered at discounts. But it wasn’t until I drove down and got my toes in the sand that I realized what those towns were missing: people. [read the rest at Forbes]… Read more
It is the golden age for park construction in Lower Manhattan. In under twenty years, the area encompassing the Hudson River waterfront from Battery Park up to Chelsea has received several new iconic spaces, thanks to a combination of public and private funding. Last week, a new one was announced for the mix, when billionaire couple Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg committed $113 million to build Pier 55. [read the rest at Forbes]… Read more
It was only a matter of time. For decades, Houston, TX, avoided government centralization even amid rapid growth, functioning without zoning, a master plan, or even a broad vision for how it was supposed to look. But as the centralized model has become popular elsewhere, local officials felt that they were falling behind, and have launched the city’s first General Plan. [read the rest at Forbes]… Read more
I’m writing this from Hialeah, a suburb just north of Miami that is the nation’s most Cuban city. I can’t wait until Sunday, my first big day in Miami, and the de facto start to this 3-year trip!
I’ve spent the last week slogging down the east coast, stopping in Wilmington, Myrtle Beach, Charleston, Hilton Head, and Savannah, before continuing on down Florida’s Route 1 (which is literally—and I mean literally—one big strip mall the entire way through the state). Particularly from West Palm Beach down, Florida’s east coast feels a lot like Los Angeles: it’s dense enough to technically be urban, but not dense or pedestrian-oriented enough to be walkable.… Read more