1. I wrote three Forbes articles this week: about how black churches were burning across the South, perhaps in response to the Charleston shooting and Confederate flag takedown; about how new presidential candidate Chris Christie has handled his 5-year control of Atlantic City; and about a new app that aims to help people find bathrooms in New York City.
2. There are two layers in the ongoing debate about whether cities should cater to cars or pedestrians. The first concerns the design of roads themselves—should they be one-way, as to ease traffic flow, or two-way, as to slow it?… Read more
Have you ever been in the middle of a winding, day-long stroll through New York City when suddenly you must go to the bathroom? Of course you have, and you know what often happens next. Over the course of what can seem like an hour, you may navigate long lines, forbidding McDonald’s stalls, and inflexible store workers before you finally get access to a usable bathroom. Now, there is an app to help this situation. [read the rest at Forbes]… Read more
This morning, Chris Christie announced his presidential run, but the lukewarm response he’ll likely receive from the media, donors, and Iowa voters signifies his fall. When first elected New Jersey Governor in 2009, he was seen as someone—large and direct—who could effectively tackle the state’s fiscal challenges, and maybe someday the nation’s. Since then, his popularity has waned amidst speculation of corruption, nepotism,misuse of funds and bridge closings, as has New Jersey’s economy, marked by credit downgrades and declining incomes. This has raised doubts about Christie’s leadership abilities, which may grow once voters notice his record in Atlantic City. … Read more
Across black America, churches have long been community pillars, serving not only as houses for worship, but for daycare, private charity, and political activism. Naturally, this has made them a historical target for white supremacists. The nation was reminded of this on June 17, when teenager Dylann Roof murdered 9 worshipers in Charleston’s historic Emanuel AME church. This event has seemingly inspired a further spate of terrorism, as several black churches were set ablaze this past week. [read the rest at Forbes]… Read more
1. I published two articles this week. The first was a Governing Magazine piece about how Miami’s pro-development policies have delayed downtown gentrification. The second was an update, published by Forbes, on Philadelphia’s mass eminent domain scheme for a blighted neighborhood. That issue first became public for this audience when reader Adam Lang posted in the Market Urbanism Facebook group that he was one of many residents whose property would be seized. Emily followed with a description of the plan on this site, and my Forbes piece provides an update following the June 18th approval by city council. … Read more
Along with other ideas that have lost appeal in America, one is the notion that powerful government agencies should master-plan large swaths of cities. While such agencies still play roles in specific redevelopments, they seldom imitate the social engineering found, say, during post-War II “urban renewal.” But this has not stopped the Philadelphia Housing Authority from pursuing a mass eminent domain scheme that will revisit these past mistakes.
On June 18th, city council voted overwhelmingly to allow the Philadelphia Housing Authority to redevelop Sharswood, a blighted neighborhood north of downtown… [read the rest at Forbes]… Read more
Can growing cities avoid gentrification simply by building skyscrapers? Harvard economist Edward Glaeser thinks so. In his 2012 book Triumph of the City, he famously argues that in order to address housing shortages, cities need to build up. If they don’t, he warns, wealthy people who would buy high-rise units will instead buy older housing and displace longtime residents and businesses.
Glaeser’s theory has mostly gone untested as the nation’s most gentrifying cities — such as New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.… Read more
[My second in a two-part series on Havana, Cuba. Here’s the first article.]
Before taking my trip to Havana, one thing that I was curious about was how a half-century of Communism had affected the built fabric. While there are obvious disadvantages to economic stagnation, I figured that it would have at least created a charming-looking city. There are, after all, a handful of U.S. cities, and numerous European ones, that have resisted growth, modernization, and the automobile, only to remain quaint and historic.… Read more
1. I’m now a week removed from my Cuba trip, where I spent 4 days in Havana biking through the city’s near-hourly mix of high heat and torrential rainfall, returning to my bed & breakfast each night covered in soot. My first few days back in Miami I spent sick and exhausted in a hotel, but managed in the latter half to pump out a Forbes article on Miami’s inequality. The piece was slammed the next morning by the Miami New Times–a local alternative rag–for making arguments that staff writer Kyle Munzenrieder found “structurally racist.” I sent an email asking him to elaborate on the racism charge (since he didn’t in the article), but haven’t heard back.… Read more
In 2014, the Brookings Institute ranked income inequality in America’s 50 largest cities. Earlier this year, they updated the report, amidst heated rhetoric on the issue. Miami ranked 4th-highest, which surprised no one here, since the city’s rich-poor divide is visible from street level. But because of Miami’s innate demographic makeup, inequality here should be considered more an inevitability, than something to be upset over. The more important question is whether the city allows the poor to rise, or at least maintain better living standards than where they came from.… Read more