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The Future of the American City


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The future of the American city Across the United States a 'great inversion' is taking place. Once, Americans fled their inner cities for the sprawling lawns of the suburban dream. Now, urban centers everywhere are springing back to life - as the suburbs become the new home of the poor.

 

Shortly after Barack Obama was inaugurated in January 2009, Rip Rapson, head of the Kresge Foundation, a Michigan-based family endowment, got a call from a senior White House official. The topic was the economically blighted city of Detroit. Many other foundations received a similar message. “We don't want Detroit to turn into President Obama's Katrina [the hurricane that wrecked New Orleans during George W. Bush's presidency],” the official said to Rapson. “What can we do to help?” Based in Troy - one of the featureless suburbs encircling Detroit - the Kresge Foundation was already spending millions to help clean up the city's toxic riverfront. By definition, any regeneration project in America's most unfortunate city is a drop in the ocean. There are slums in Kolkata that offer more hope than parts of Detroit. But given the corruption that was then gripping City Hall, the White House dialled the right number. Four years later, downtown Detroit is in the midst of a mini-boom. “Most people probably haven't registered it yet,” says Rapson. “But Detroit is beginning to look up.”

 

The story of downtown Detroit's emergence from the ashes is still too confined to declare the city as a whole in revival. Just three months ago, Detroit's city hall was placed under the control of an emergency manager. The city faces at least 18 months of deep stringency as it tries to dig itself out from a $15bn debt burden. Yet parts of Detroit were already functioning pretty well without much input from City Hall. A few days ago, Whole Foods, the organic supermarket chain, opened its first-ever store within Detroit's city limits. The occasion was marked with street parties in its midtown neighbourhood. Others, including Detroit's impoverished black majority, may feel less excitement about the arrival of an outlet some call “Whole Pay Check” because it is so expensive.

 

There may be greater enthusiasm in September when ground will be broken on Detroit's first streetcar project since the 1950s. The M1, as the tram route will be known, will link downtown to midtown Detroit. There is poetic irony to the notion that Motown's comeback might be powered by urban rail. Detroit used to have many tramlines: they were ripped out at the behest of the auto companies.

 

“Most people figured out that Detroit needs mass transit to revive,” says Dan Gilbert, chief executive of Quicken Loans, America's third-largest mortgage originator. A native of the city, Gilbert took a bet in 2010 when he shifted his company's headquarters from suburban Farmington Hills to downtown Detroit. It now has 7,500 employees there. “I'm putting everything I have into the revival of Detroit,” says Gilbert. “There is no Plan B.”

 

Audacious as his gamble is, the odds may be turning in Gilbert's favour. From the baking sunbelt to the rain-kissed northeast, an urban revival is spreading across America. The trend's furthest inklings go back many years: New York has been clawing its way back from its seedy 1970s nadir for more than a generation. The trend is also uneven. Los Angeles and Chicago, America's second and third-largest cities, are both still revitalising their downtowns. And it has also been slow. The most devastated post-industrial cities, such as Cleveland, Buffalo, Baltimore and Detroit, have only recently showed stirrings of life. Yet there is an energy - and ambition - to urban America that was missing a few years ago.

 

In 2011, for the first time in more than 90 years, America's largest cities registered higher population growth than their combined suburbs, according to William Frey, a leading demographer. The signs are this will continue. While the cities are gentrifying, many of America's suburbs are heading downmarket. It is the invisible side of the same coin. Frey writes: “This puts the brakes on a longstanding staple of American life - the pervasive suburbanisation of its population which began with widespread automobile use in the 1920s, to the present day, where more than half the US population lives in suburbs.”

 

Cheerleaders of the “new urbanism”, such as Richard Florida, author of The Flight of the Creative Class, which argues that cities are the best petri dishes for new ideas and innovation, say their revival is assisted by a generational shift in US culture as well as deeper economic trends. Florida, who now lives in Toronto, just 250 miles north of Detroit (but still a million miles in terms of its vibrancy), grew up in suburban New Jersey in a second-generation Italian-American family. Like so many other immigrants, his parents fled the claustrophobia of New York for the freedom of the suburbs. “To them the city was a ghetto - it was stifling and crowded and dangerous,” says Florida. “But to my generation, the suburbs represent a kind of poverty of living and it is the cities, rather than the suburbs, where you can breathe freely.”

 

In despair over City Hall's standard revival package - often little more than tax breaks for new sports stadiums and Vegas casinos - the new urbanists believe the only worthwhile goal is to attract talent. Good jobs will follow. As Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York, told the FT last year: “Talent attracts capital, not the other way round.”

 

As New York has shown in the past 20 years, when a metropolis wants to bring in more educated people it needs to make itself both safe and entertaining. In a city like Detroit, which had as many murders in 2012 as New York City, in spite of having an eleventh of the population, that is a tall order. Yet self-proclaimed “early adopters”, such as Dan Gilbert, who in the past three years has invested $1bn in downtown Detroit's property, in addition to his Quicken Loans outlay, think Detroit already has the assets. They just need refurbishing. In spite of Detroit's prolonged dilapidation, it is home to one of America's finest symphonies, opera houses and institutes of art. Detroit's often half-empty, and graffitied, high-rise office blocks around Campus Martius, the downtown plaza, also have some of America's best examples of art deco architecture. In its Eastern Market, which opened in 1891, Detroit has the longest-running farmers' market in the US. Like an oasis, Eastern Market is coming back to life amid the urban “food desert” that covers most of the city.

 

It is little surprise that many globally renowned retailers view downtown Detroit as an experiment worth joining. “Everything we are trying to do is fun and cool,” one of Gilbert's employees repeats to me several times on a tour of the downtown's sprouting coffee shops, open air restaurants, sculpture gardens and boutiques. Much like Quicken Loan's own offices, Gilbert is repainting Detroit's drab centre in the primary colours of Silicon Valley. More than 100 architects have entered a competition to design a new retail landmark on the site of the legendary Hudson store, which in the 1920s played host to the busiest intersection in the US. Today, it is an empty lot. Tomorrow, it could be iconic again.

 

To judge by the numbers, the strategy appears to be working. For the first time in a century, Chrysler, one of Motown's Big Three, has moved its offices back to Detroit. Other big hirers include Blue Cross Blue Shield, the health insurer, which now employs 4,000 people in downtown Detroit. Like Gilbert's mostly out-of-town workforce, most are young graduates. According to a survey of those who have recently moved to downtown Detroit, which has near-full residential occupancy ratios, more than half were between the ages of 20 and 29. And they were far likelier to have a degree than the US average.

 

In Detroit as a whole, less than a quarter of students even finish high school. Meth and other hard drugs are rife. Yet its Zinfandel-sipping, downtown crowd better resemble their counterparts in well-heeled Austin or Seattle. “Who would have thought in downtown Detroit that our problem would be a shortage of residential space?” says Gilbert. The rest of the city has almost 80,000 abandoned homes, including some choice former mansions. But most of its thinly policed neighbourhoods are too edgy for even the hardiest of newcomers. For all the affinity between the two, you may as well separate the two Detroits with a medieval moat. Yet a few years ago there was not much of a castle to protect. “Detroit's revival has to start somewhere,” says Gilbert.

 

Some academics argue that the recent vibrancy of many US cities is a temporary by-product of the big housing crash of 2007, which forced young graduates to postpone their move to the suburbs and put off starting families. But the demographic changes behind the US urban revival long predate the Great Recession. If it were not for high levels of immigration, mostly from Mexico, the US birth rate would have fallen even more rapidly than it has in the past decade. The shift towards smaller families - and also voluntary childlessness - goes back a long way. In the 1940s and 1950s when the US flight to the suburbs was in full flow, half of all US households had children, according to the US census. That is projected to fall to below a quarter by the end of this decade.

 

For the single-occupancy types who can afford it, the city is a far less lonely place to live. In the light of the freeway-dominated culture of the suburbs, America's recent mania for urban bike sharing is understandable. So too is the millennial generation's apparent disdain for cars. Far from being more dangerous, density can be reassuring. “In suburbia no one can hear you scream,” says a character in The Unwinding, a new book by George Packer that explores America's changing undercurrents. As another of Packer's characters says about Tampa, one of the most suburban, multi-lane cities in the US: “No encounters ever happen by accident in Tampa. Or if they do, they're traumatic.”

 

America's growing love affair with a more European-style city is also boosted by the retirement of the US baby boom generation, many of whom are as bored of the suburbs as their children. Like their offspring, many also wrestle with their inner Kurt Cobains. If you combine the steady rise in urbane “empty nesters” with the growing acceptance of gay culture and the mushrooming of independent charter schools that give families the option of staying on when their children reach school age, shifting US demography is a friend to the reviving downtown.

 

Technology is also an ally. The big out-of-town retail centres once spelled the death knell of Main Street. But the rapid shift to online retailing is now rendering many of them obsolete. According to the International Council of Shopping Centers, at least a tenth of America's remaining 1,000 enclosed malls will shut in the next seven years, mostly because of the internet. That is why people like Gilbert put so much emphasis on “place making” - creating a spectacle out of the street life that only cities can offer. It means good food, open-air events and renovated parks. Out go the discarded needles. In come the open-air chess boards. “American cities are becoming more and more European in their sensibility,” says Florida. “It is all about lifestyle.” As the new urbanists put it (somewhat annoyingly), the US urban revival is driven by the “3Ts” - technology, tolerance and talent.

 

Cities like Detroit owe much of their improved prospects to the efforts of a battle-hardened generation of social entrepreneurs, such as Sue Mosey, the unofficial “mayor of Detroit midtown”. Linked to the city's downtown by the brutal eight-lane Woodward Avenue, Detroit's midtown is a separate revival story altogether. A native of Detroit, Mosey started out as a community organiser, much like Barack Obama. She too followed the methods of Saul Alinsky, the Chicago 1960s radical, who counselled resistance to the corporate-controlled city machines, which in Detroit meant companies like Ford and General Motors.

 

Nowadays, says Mosey, the game is turned on its head. It is about collaborating with the private sector. Her largest local employer is the Ford Medical Center. For all intents and purposes, local government has vanished. Mosey's small office on Woodward Avenue is the main conduit for private and federal money to midtown Detroit. Her group keeps the streets clean, renovates the buildings and funnels a myriad of grants and subsidies to local projects. She helped lure Whole Foods to the area. Next door is the celebrated Great Lakes Coffee Shop, which also sells grapefruit Pellegrino. Wherever you look there seems to be a yoga centre.

 

“I was protesting against Roger Smith [the former chief executive of GM] long before Michael Moore made his movie [Roger & Me, 1989],” says Mosey, whose casual ponytail and faded jeans belie a missionary beneath. “But we're not living in the age of confrontation any more. I'll take support from where it is available. If you know where to look, there is a lot of capital out there.” For a former radical, Mosey has an extraordinary number of multimillion-dollar foundations on her speed dial. In contrast, one gets the sense that the politicians in City Hall call her more often than she calls them.

 

There are many linchpin figures like Mosey in US cities, reflecting both America's entrepreneurialism and the political bankruptcy of so many of its local governments. In many cases revival is happening in spite of politics. “Sue Mosey is a one-person regeneration machine,” says Bruce Katz from the Brookings Institution, whose new book, co-authored with Jennifer Bradley, The Metropolitan Revolution, argues that only cities can rejuvenate US competitiveness. “Mosey is a deal-maker and a catalyst for what local governments can't do: she literally remakes neighbourhoods and makes people want to live there.”

 

The US is a complex country. From the Jeffersonian farmstead to the small town and the suburb, America's sense of exceptionalism has often excluded the city altogether. Its self-imagination rarely acknowledges the hidden but always central role of race in its great demographic odysseys. Jefferson's rural arcadia was run by slaves. The suburbs and small towns are mostly white. Meanwhile, until recently many of America's urban downtowns were seen as no-go areas run by ethnic gangs. In Detroit, which is 83 per cent African-American, most of its whites, including Dan Gilbert's parents, and Sue Mosey's, fled to the suburbs after the 1967 riots that killed dozens of people and burned thousands of properties. The same was true of Washington DC, Chicago, Boston and elsewhere. It was called the White Flight.

 

Today, people such as the author Alan Ehrenhalt talk of a “Great Inversion”, in which the educated (of all colours) are moving to the city and pricing the (often white) poor out to the suburbs. Some call it gentrification, or even “Brooklynisation”, after the revival of the New York borough. Others, such as Elizabeth Kneebone and Alan Berube, also at Brookings, talk of the suburbanisation of poverty.

 

If Sue Mosey is the unofficial mayor of midtown Detroit, Ken Sawa is one of San Bernardino's saving graces. Head of the Catholic Charities group for the area, Sawa's group offers a safety net for tens of thousands of people across this sprawling outgrowth of Los Angeles. Home to 4.1m people, the neighbouring counties of San Bernardino and Riverside, which some call the “Inland Empire”, offer a seemingly endless, low-rise vista from the city limits of LA to the deserts of Nevada. Much of what is arguably America's largest bedroom community has no distinct character at all. Yet in parts it has a murder rate to rival that of Detroit. Pointing down one of the main drags in the bankrupt city of San Bernardino, I tell Sawa that the street looks safe enough to me. It has the usual fast-food diners, pawnbrokers, cheque-cashing outlets and metal-bashing shops of so many poor or near-poor suburban subdivisions in the US. But there are no pedestrians. The sight evokes neither fear nor hope, I say. My instinct is wrong. “I wouldn't even walk down this street in the daytime,” says Sawa, smiling. “You get a lot of gang killings.”

 

Just as LA's Inland Empire has no real landmarks, it lacks a social pulse. That may be because even its poorest residents are forced to spend so much of their time in their cars. Much like Packer's Tampa, chance meetings are something to be feared. Some of San Bernardino's residents can barely afford vehicles, and live in as much trepidation of missing their next auto-loan payment as homeowners do for their mortgages. According to a survey of Penn Hills, a suburb of Philadelphia, its residents spent 32 per cent of their income on housing and 27 per cent on transport. It costs almost as much to fill their petrol tanks as it does to pay the rent. Given the enormous distances, the story is even worse in San Bernardino. Another survey shows that only a quarter of the jobs in Los Angeles are within a 90-minute commute of San Bernardino. Yet the City of Angels is where the good jobs are. According to Kneebone and Berube, those living near or below the poverty line in the US pay on average 40 per cent more for car insurance than wealthier Americans.

 

“If I lose my car, I lose my livelihood - period,” says David Hawkins, 42, a former mortgage broker, who lost his job in 2009 and now works at a homeless shelter. “All I do is drive my children to school and my wife to work and then myself to work - each leg is 30 minutes. I do the same again in the evening. If you can't drive in the Inland Empire you're finished.”

 

In the first decade of this century, the number of suburban poor Americans - defined as $23,000 a year for a family -rose twice as fast as in the cities. In 2010, for the first time in US history, the number of poor living in the suburbs exceeded those living in the cities. The same is even truer for America's “near poor” - those defined as living at twice the poverty level. And yet, they are largely invisible to the main sources of money - public and private - the lion's share of which continues to go to the cities. One recent study found that the flow of public and private benefits was a seven to one ratio for Chicago versus its suburbs and five to one in Los Angeles even though each had more poor in their suburbs. “If you're a philanthropist and want to do something about poverty you never think of the suburbs,” says Sawa, whose charity assists Catholics and non-Catholics alike (roughly 40 per cent of the two counties is Hispanic). “People's image of poverty in the US is way behind the reality.”

 

Every now and then Sawa hosts a “poverty simulation” day in which participants - people in the police, judiciary, city government and other professions - are invited to try to live on a poverty line budget in San Bernardino. They discover their water or electricity gets shut off without warning and that it costs $200 to reconnect. They lose their two-weekly payslip when they turn up late. A tenth of their pay gets sliced off by the cheque cashier (without a credit score it is very hard to get a bank account). And for even the simplest job, they need to be credit checked, drug tested and fingerprinted. “My teenage daughter is a hostess in a restaurant,” says Sawa. “Even for that she was fingerprinted.” One bad rap, one devastating “credit event”, and you could lose your car or your home.

 

In San Bernardino alone, there are officially 22,000 homeless schoolchildren, most of whose parents live in “extended stay” motels. It is a similar tale in Prince George's County, Maryland, or Nassau County, New York. Most of the good jobs are too far away or too expensive to reach. But this is where you can afford to live. In LA they call it “cheap dirt”. “You don't realise that you're middle-class until you stop being middle-class,” says Kayava Lenoir, a 36-year-old African-American college graduate who lost her corporate sales job in 2009 and can now only find menial work in San Bernardino. She long ago defaulted on her home. “When I was earning a good salary, I took vacations in Jamaica,” she added. “Now I date men who've never been on a plane.”

 

Even on the sunnier side of the Inland Empire, on the outskirts of Riverside city with its enchanting Spanish revival buildings, things are less comfortable than they look. The suburb of Orangecrest - so named for the actual orange grove that was removed to make way for it - looks nearly as plush as the cul-de-sacs in Desperate Housewives. One of its denizens, Imelda Santana, 51, a Mexican-born American, lost a very well-paid job at Citibank in 2009. As is often the case when financial calamity strikes, her marriage disintegrated. Now she lives in a large house with her three daughters. She has not made mortgage payments for two years. Several times she has been fined by the neighbourhood association for failing to mow her lawns or repaint the exterior of her house. Her creditors pursue her day and night. Yet she seems almost serene about her dramatically straitened circumstances. “I'll short sell this house before the bank repossesses me,” she says, waving her hands causally. “God will make sure I'm OK.”

 

Until recently, Santana worried that she and her daughters stood out in Orangecrest. Then one afternoon she noticed how many of her neighbours had been disconnected by the Edison electricity company: the utility leaves a telltale red disconnection tag on every door. “People try to remove those tags as quick as they can,” she says. “It's like a public shaming.” As Santana speaks, she fiddles with a glass pendant around her neck, like she would a rosary. Inside are the birthstones of each of her daughters. “If God was not on my side, I would have fallen into depression or drugs,” she says. “I've seen that happen often. But I know I will come back stronger.”

 

Among US urban scholars there is disagreement about whether the impoverishment of so many US suburbs and the return of urban downtowns is a blip or a long-term trend. Some believe that after a bad few years American suburbia is poised to resume its role as the main engine of US economic growth. They do not anticipate a new urban golden age. For every sparkling new Pittsburgh or Denver, there is a still devastated Flint, Michigan or Gary, Indiana. As the US housing market starts to revive, even in “sandy state” foreclosure zones such as San Bernardino, their scepticism will be tested in the next two or three years. For now, most of the evidence is against them. During the sub-prime boom that ended in 2007, the advice for mortgage-seekers was to “drive until you qualify”. Almost anyone could eventually. The more America's cities come back to life, and the more condominiums they build and the more organic stores they open, the further the poor will have to drive. It is a geographic inversion of the American Dream. “The suburbs were created to house the new middle-class in the 20th century,” says Katz of Brookings. “But the economy they were built around is vanishing. In the 21st century most of the good jobs are in the cities.” Nowadays the dream is as likely to involve an apartment close to the action in Manhattan or Haight-Ashbury as a picket fence McMansion in the suburbs. Owning a car is optional. But among suburbia's current and former “boomburgs”, many people can no longer afford to dream. They are too busy plying the freeways. As Sawa jokes, “You can't risk falling asleep at the wheel.”

 

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/plus/financialtimes/chi-ft-future-american-city,0,1337655,full.story

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TL;DR, and just some copied and pasted garbage from Slick's anti-suburb agenda. 

 

It's not that simple, I don't think.

 

In the overall trend, specific to Houston, suburbs are still the majority leader in where people want to live.

 

Demographically though, what percentage of Gen X, or Gen Y choose to live in the city compared to the young generations of 3 decades ago?

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It's not that simple, I don't think.

In the overall trend, specific to Houston, suburbs are still the majority leader in where people want to live.

Demographically though, what percentage of Gen X, or Gen Y choose to live in the city compared to the young generations of 3 decades ago?

I talked to three of my Gen Y friends and they told me that they don't want to move to the city, so clearly this is a sign of a vast conspiracy.

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To make it easier on everyone, I've summarized the article below...

The future of the American city blah, blah, blah

Shortly after Barack Obama blah, blah, blah

The story of downtown Detroit's blah, blah, blah

There may be greater enthusiasm blah, blah, blah

“Most people figured out blah, blah, blah

Audacious as his gamble is, blah, blah, blah

In 2011, blah, blah, blah

Cheerleaders of the “new urbanism”, blah, blah, blah

In despair over City Hall's blah, blah, blah

As New York has shown blah, blah, blah

It is little surprise blah, blah, blah

To judge by the numbers, blah, blah, blah

In Detroit as a whole, l blah, blah, blah

For the single-occupancy types blah, blah, blah

America's growing love affair blah, blah, blah

Technology is also an ally. blah, blah, blah

Cities like Detroit blah, blah, blah

Nowadays, says Mosey, blah, blah, blah

“I was protesting against Roger Smith blah, blah, blah

There are many linchpin figures like Mosey blah, blah, blah

The US is a complex country. blah, blah, blah

Today, people such as blah, blah, blah

If Sue Mosey is blah, blah, blah

Just as LA's Inland Empire has no real landmarks, blah, blah, blah

“If I lose my car, blah, blah, blah

In the first decade of this century, blah, blah, blah

Every now and then Sawa hosts blah, blah, blah

In San Bernardino alone, blah, blah, blah”

Even on the sunnier side blah, blah, blah

Until recently, blah, blah, blah

Among US urban scholars blah, blah, blah

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/plus/financialtimes/chi-ft-future-american-city,0,1337655,full.story

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I talked to three of my Gen Y friends and they told me that they don't want to move to the city, so clearly this is a sign of a vast conspiracy.

 

None of my friends have sold out and moved to the suburbs. The new generation enjoys the city life.

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Troy - one of the featureless suburbs encircling Detroit

 

There is poetic irony to the notion that Motown's comeback might be powered by urban rail. Detroit used to have many tramlines: they were ripped out at the behest of the auto companies.

 

in Gilbert's favour...neighbourhoods...colours...two-weekly payslip

 

Richard Florida...who now lives in Toronto...grew up in suburban New Jersey

 

Sue Mosey...helped lure Whole Foods to the area. Next door is the celebrated Great Lakes Coffee Shop, which also sells grapefruit Pellegrino. Wherever you look there seems to be a yoga centre.

 

Just as LA's Inland Empire has no real landmarks, it lacks a social pulse.

 

Opinion mostly with little hard data, a long discourse on a specific set of aesthetic preferences, and too many non-American English "u"s = tough for a Houston boy to uncritically accept

 

I'm guessing it was the Big 3 conspiracy reference that struck the chord in Slick, reading & reading & reading down here in autotyrannyville.

 

Still, the grapefruit Pelligrino and an oversupply of yoga centers are clearly key building blocks for the return to greatness of America's formerly vibrant urban cores...

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None of my friends have sold out and moved to the suburbs. The new generation enjoys the city life.

 

Not true.  They've just been brainwashed by the government to believe that they enjoy city life.  It's another government conspiracy.  The only people moving back to the city are the "sheeple" that don't know how to think for themselves.

 

http://www.wnd.com/2012/03/agenda-21-fact-not-conspiracy/

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I used to play golf with Tiger Woods. But, he was so cheap when he tipped waitresses that it embarrassed me. I don't hang out with him anymore.

Watch showtime on June 22 you'll see me in the first row of Barclays center watching my friend defending the welterweight title

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Watch showtime on June 22 you'll see me in the first row of Barclays center watching my friend defending the welterweight title

I'll have to pass on watching a couple of guys beat the crap out of each other on tv with you. I'm taking the family to see the HSO perform Mozart's Paris Symphony and, one of my favorites, Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherezade at the Miller Theatre that night.

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Ok. I'm going to Vancouver tomorrow with a stop in Toronto then New York. Have fun in houston in the meantime though

I'm too busy worrying about the size of my carbon footprint from living in the suburbs to do things like that. Since you don't drive either of your two cars, you don't have to worry about that. It's good though that the hypocrisy of your comments won't bother you while you're responsible for more emissions tomorrow than the standard suburbanite will cause for the next six months.

After all, you make the world a better place by posting comments on the Internet so that makes it ok.

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Who goes to Vancouver with stops in Toronto and New York? That's a cross country flight. It's like saying I'm going to LA with a stop in Philly and Miami.

Only people who are concerned about saving the environment. He walked to work yesterday though, so it's all good.

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With the loss of 60% of their population, Detroit's taxbase has severely dwindled.  They can't provide adequate fire and police service now.  They are in 15 billion in debt.  A train won't save them.

 

Let's ask a citizen of Detroit what the main problems are.

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Just because you know a couple of guys at the UPS store doesn't make them boxing champions.

 

Paulie "Magic Man" Malignaggi current WBA Welterweight World Champion and Juan "Baby Bull" Diaz former unified lightweight world champion who recently launched his comeback. Since you keep egging me on.

Who goes to Vancouver with stops in Toronto and New York? That's a cross country flight. It's like saying I'm going to LA with a stop in Philly and Miami.

 

Going to Vancouver for a few days, then Toronto, then New York, then back to Houston.

I'm too busy worrying about the size of my carbon footprint from living in the suburbs to do things like that. Since you don't drive either of your two cars, you don't have to worry about that. It's good though that the hypocrisy of your comments won't bother you while you're responsible for more emissions tomorrow than the standard suburbanite will cause for the next six months.

After all, you make the world a better place by posting comments on the Internet so that makes it ok.

 

I'm one person. The flights wouldn't stop running because of me, and don't run because of me.

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I'm one person. The flights wouldn't stop running because of me, and don't run because of me.

 

Ahh, I love the Al Gore justification for causing global warming while demanding that the little people sacrifice. The fact remains that while you chastise everyone else, every extra pound that a plane must lift and carry uses more fuel. Your carefree globe hopping produces 2,386 pounds of CO2...the same as a Hummer produces in 2 months of driving around Houston. You are easily the most hypocritical poster on the forum. Your demands for rail are hollow. 

 

Enjoy Vancouver, Toronto, and New York. I will enjoy driving to work...guilt free.

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Paulie "Magic Man" Malignaggi current WBA Welterweight World Champion and Juan "Baby Bull" Diaz former unified lightweight world champion who recently launched his comeback. Since you keep egging me on.

 

Going to Vancouver for a few days, then Toronto, then New York, then back to Houston.

 

I'm one person. The flights wouldn't stop running because of me, and don't run because of me.

1368218056233-1365211015172_troll_spray41368218056233-1365211015172_troll_spray4

 

Please don't make me use more cans of this stuff. Although it came recommended by Editor, one can doesn't seem to be doing the trick.

Edited by Hugh Stone
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I'm one person. The flights wouldn't stop running because of me, and don't run because of me.

LMAO! That is the greatest justification of all time! No personal responsibility at all!

They were going to build the houses in the suburbs anyway. They didn't do it because of me.

They built the freeways anyway. They didn't build it because of me.

Officer, I don't understand the problem. He was going to die whether I killed him or not.

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Paulie "Magic Man" Malignaggi current WBA Welterweight World Champion and Juan "Baby Bull" Diaz former unified lightweight world champion who recently launched his comeback. Since you keep egging me on.

Yeah, right, more like Paul and Juan down at the UPS store on McKinney. I hear they hold the world record for packing a 12x12x24 corrugated box. Such an imagination you have. Just because you watch a couple of guys on tv at a local bar doesn't make them your friends.

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I must've missed the memo. My wife and I are in our 20's and we just bought a house in Cinco. I await the coming wave of poverty that Slick, in his infinite wisdom, assures us is headed for the burbs.

 

and by the way... What does claiming to know two pro pugilists have to do with disseminating propaganda that supports your fascist liberal agenda?

Edited by arndthwrld82
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I must've missed the memo. My wife and I are in our 20's and we just bought a house in Cinco. I await the coming wave of poverty that Slick, in his infinite wisdom, assures us is headed for the burbs.

 

and by the way... What does claiming to know two pro pugilists have to do with disseminating propaganda that supports your fascist liberal agenda?

Don't hold your breath while enjoying the beauty and amenities of Cinco. It's funny how you find so many young couples with children in the burbs. How can that be if Slick and his buddies at the UPS store don't know anyone who would live in the burbs?

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Yeah, right, more like Paul and Juan down at the UPS store on McKinney. I hear they hold the world record for packing a 12x12x24 corrugated box. Such an imagination you have. Just because you watch a couple of guys on tv at a local bar doesn't make them your friends.

 

I can introduce you if you want, there are never enough sparring partners.

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As far as I can tell, the real topic here is that Slick keeps posting someone else's blog posts, verbatim and at length, since he's discovered that he can't really argue his world view based on facts.  Then, when called on it, attempts to impress us with his imaginary world.  Can I request that we create a fantasy role-playing section for him to post to?

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As far as I can tell, the real topic here is that Slick keeps posting someone else's blog posts, verbatim and at length, since he's discovered that he can't really argue his world view based on facts.  Then, when called on it, attempts to impress us with his imaginary world.  Can I request that we create a fantasy role-playing section for him to post to?

 

This isn't about me, I would appreciate if you stop taking personal shots at me out of frustration. Nothing I've said on here is a lie. But this isn't about me.

 

I wish Houston would model itself after even some of the things Vancouver has done, it would definitely improve its quality of life as a result.

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I wish Houston would model itself after even some of the things Vancouver has done, it would definitely improve its quality of life as a result.

 

From "10 Things I Hate About Vancouver" by a native of the area...  http://btr.michaelkwan.com/2008/02/10/10-things-i-hate-about-vancouver/

 

I won't post the whole thing verbatim, but here's a couple of relevant items on the list...

 

 

4. Housing is expensive

Unless you’re pulling down six figures, it’s nearly impossible for a single person to own any sort of property in Vancouver. It’s a little out of control when a modest 600 square foot apartment goes for $300,000. And that’s not even downtown. Needless to say, the boom hasn’t burst (yet).

 

8. Cheap things to do

This is probably the result of living in this city my whole life, but I’m running out of fun things to do, mostly at night, that won’t cost me a pretty penny. The costs of fine dining and watching movies can add up pretty quickly, but I’m at a loss as to what else I can be doing. Pool? Bowling? Go-karting? Been there, done that.

 

9. Horrible highway system

Years ago, someone decided that they didn’t want a highway running through the middle of the city. As a result, we are now suffering from a very bad system of surface roads that result in nothing but congestion, frustration, and road rage. Even compared to somewhere like Seattle, Vancouver’s traffic is pretty bad.

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I can introduce you if you want, there are never enough sparring partners.

 

You're right, of course, quality sparring partners are hard to find.  I'm Heavyweight class myself.  I'll have to leave the Lightweight class to you and your "buddies".

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One of the really neat things about cities is that they don't have to all be the same. Each city can be unique and can appeal to different types of people. There is no one size fits all.

People of means have choices. They have the ability to live in cities that best suit their lifestyle and ambitions...or they can stay in a city that is clearly not matching their lifestyle and ambitions and spent large amounts of time complaining about that cities' failings on the Internet.

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One of the really neat things about cities is that they don't have to all be the same. Each city can be unique and can appeal to different types of people. There is no one size fits all.

People of means have choices. They have the ability to live in cities that best suit their lifestyle and ambitions...or they can stay in a city that is clearly not matching their lifestyle and ambitions and spent large amounts of time complaining about that cities' failings on the Internet.

This is true

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From "10 Things I Hate About Vancouver" by a native of the area... http://btr.michaelkwan.com/2008/02/10/10-things-i-hate-about-vancouver/

I won't post the whole thing verbatim, but here's a couple of relevant items on the list...

I agree with 4 but not 8 and 9. There is so much nature in Vancouver that's free it's amazing. Grouse mountain, beaches, trails, bike lanes and trails, all free. As far as tearing down highways that helped preserved the city of Vancouver and particularly downtown. This is the basic difference between Vancouver and Seattle.

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I agree with 4 but not 8 and 9. There is so much nature in Vancouver that's free it's amazing. Grouse mountain, beaches, trails, bike lanes and trails, all free. As far as tearing down highways that helped preserved the city of Vancouver and particularly downtown. This is the basic difference between Vancouver and Seattle.

 

I know that you're a big fan of Vancouver, and feel the need to express it at every opportunity like a teen-age girl who's only ever been to one other place in the world, but as someone who's spent MUCH more time in Vancouver than you, it's not all that great.

 

Vancouver traffic is horrendous.  Far worse than Seattle.  Not as bad as Houston, but that's largely because Vancouver only has a quarter of the population of Houston.  Mass transit is problematic in Vancouver.  If it wasn't for the new lines very recently built for the Winter Olympics, the subway system would be a joke.  Some think it still is, since for the most part the trains only go where the tourists would want to, not the locals.  Bus service is very spotty and can't be easily extended because so many of them are electric.  In Houston if you want to make a new bus route, your drive the bus down the new route.  In Vancouver, you have to spend months running new overhead electrical lines for the pantographs.  In Vancouver there are a lot of places you simply cannot go via transit, or worse -- you can only get there on certain days.  More than once I've had to wait an hour or more for a bus.  That simply doesn't happen in cities that are serious about transit.

 

Vancouver is a nice town.  It's clean.  It's mostly orderly.  It's pretty as long as you're not looking up through a massive tangle of electric lines for the buses.  But it's also a very small town.  It has the same population as Louisville, Kentucky. It's epically boring nine months of the year.  The food is terrible, even in high-end restaurants.  

 

Implying that Houston should follow Vancouver's lead is silly.  That's like saying New York should be more like Brussels.  The two are entirely different.  Simply the size of Houston's problems dwarf anything Vancouver could cope with.  

That's not to say that there aren't lessons to be learned from Vancouver.  Other cities and urban planners have learned from Vancouver's mistakes.  One of the biggest lessons they've learned is that putting a bunch of residential towers in one district doesn't create a neighborhood.  That's the biggest problem IMO with downtown Vancouver.  It's sterile.  The people scurry to work and then scurry back to their condos.  (Real local real estate agents don't call them "condominiums" there -- that's the American word.  I forget the Vancouverism for it.)  The city has virtually no life outside of the a few tourist streets.   "The Vancouver Mistake" isn't an unheard of term in urban planning circles.  It's why some cities require any building over a certain number of floors (usually around 4) to have retail on the ground floor.  So they don't end up with boring, sterile, broken cities like your precious Vancouver.

Now please find a different drum to beat.  The one you're using now is hollow.

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I'm not going to pollute the other threads, but developers appear to have missed the rush back to the city memo because there's an awful lot of talk about office development in The Woodlands and Memorial City on various threads today.

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I'm not going to pollute the other threads, but developers appear to have missed the rush back to the city memo because there's an awful lot of talk about office development in The Woodlands and Memorial City on various threads today.

 

It's market dependent.  In some cities, big companies that moved out to the suburbs are rushing back into downtown, and bringing their employees with them. 

 

But, as is often the case, Houston does its own thing. (not in a bad way)

 

Houston never had the suburban office flight in the 50's and 60's, so there isn't the same sense of "downtown" to rush back to.  The city grew differently with multiple business centers.

 

So, I think you are seeing a Houston version of this phenomenon.  Companies are giving up their flat, meandering office parks in favor of being in concentrated centers of business -- just like in other cities.  Except in Houston there is more than one center worthy of consideration.

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It's market dependent.  In some cities, big companies that moved out to the suburbs are rushing back into downtown, and bringing their employees with them. 

 

But, as is often the case, Houston does its own thing. (not in a bad way)

 

Houston never had the suburban office flight in the 50's and 60's, so there isn't the same sense of "downtown" to rush back to.  The city grew differently with multiple business centers.

 

So, I think you are seeing a Houston version of this phenomenon.  Companies are giving up their flat, meandering office parks in favor of being in concentrated centers of business -- just like in other cities.  Except in Houston there is more than one center worthy of consideration.

 

I agree, but would add that I think that this is consistent across most cities that have developed after the invention of the automobile except where government regulation has skewed the market.  There seems to be an expectation on the part of many people that the new cities will eventually conform to the patterns of the old cities and I don't necessarily agree that is going to happen. 

 

The other aspect that never seems to enter into these discussions is geography which I think is a huge factor regarding the development of cities.  The three densest cities in the US are New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles and all have geographic barriers that enforce that density.  Most newer cities were built inland and don't have those kind of constraints.

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I'm not going to pollute the other threads, but developers appear to have missed the rush back to the city memo because there's an awful lot of talk about office development in The Woodlands and Memorial City on various threads today.

 

What are your thoughts on the actual article itself? Besides IBH2 nobody has really even said anything about it. It's a very well written piece.

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What are your thoughts on the actual article itself? Besides IBH2 nobody has really even said anything about it. It's a very well written piece.

 

Let me just repeat, grapefruit Pelligrino is so clearly the missing ingredient in Houston's yearning for walkable world classness that the author of the essay should immediately be inducted into the Houston Tomorrow Institute's Tragically Hip Hall of Fame - there to join Peter Brown and Christof Spieler as walkable/mixed use/TOD/rail prophets without honor in their own town.

 

In this case, I believe the Crossleys could dispense with the customary 5 year waiting period that Frank Wilson's induction made necessary...

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What are your thoughts on the actual article itself? Besides IBH2 nobody has really even said anything about it. It's a very well written piece.

 

I think that it's an example of choosing case studies that will illustrate the point that you are trying to make rather than actually trying to do objective research on national trends.  It's really a stretch to use Detroit in any study of urbanization/suburbanization because it was such an outlier.  Detroit was the most extreme example of a city center falling into decline.  Reurbanization there is interesting, but not something that I would use to identify a trend if I was trying to be objective.  The same is true of using the Inland Empire in Los Angeles.  That also was an outlier in terms of suburban development that was heavily driven by the real estate bubble in California.

 

I don't doubt that there's some trend to re-urbanization and I think that it's a good thing.  I just don't think that it's going to cause suburbs to go away and is even going to slow their growth in any significant way because of how heavily skewed the population is.  Even if the population of Houston inside the loop doubled, it would still hold only 1m of the over 6m in the region not even considering growth.

 

BTW, I do find the assertion that cities are the "petri dishes of innovation" to be pretty funny, because I have two words for anyone that truly believes that - Silicon Valley.  The greatest innovations of the last 50 years occurred in the suburbs.

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OK, thoughts on the article? From a quick read, I'll tell you this much: it wasn't written by an American, which puts credibility in a questionable light. There are an awful lot of ambiguous "facts" being treated objectively, but I'm not going to detail them because you'll ignore what I write and put up some nonsense from other forums that "proves" your point. But I'll throw you a bone:

 

In 2011, for the first time in more than 90 years, America's largest cities registered higher population growth than their combined suburbs, according to William Frey, a leading demographer. The signs are this will continue.

Hey, guess what? Houston is one of them. See, unlike northern cities, which are hemmed in by natural boundaries, cities in the South can extend outward. Just because it's technically "Houston" doesn't mean "urban core".

 

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