Friday, January 23rd, 2009
The character of a city is often shown in the smallest of rituals. Thinking again about Chicago, I can’t help but think of transit etiquette and the way people behave on the L. At morning rush, it’s a veritable fight for a seat, pregnant women be damned. In the afternoons, people stand in haughty disdain next to seats that go empty. Perhaps a desire to read the paper drives the behavior some of this, but I find it curious. What about your town? Any other small rituals or traditions?
Oh, and I must admit to being neglectful on my Burnham Plan take in not highlighting this great series by Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin. Here are links to a number of posts from his blog that are well worth reading:
- Burnham’s Gift, today’s Chicago was born of the century old plan that still has the power to stir men’s blood.
- Planning for Chicago’s future requires Burnham style vision, and green-tinted glasses.
- A chronology of the Burnham Plan and its results.
- Where to see drawings from the Burnham Plan.
- Philip Enquist on the lakefront master plan.
- Doug Farr on sustainability and Chicago.
- A legacy of Olympic proportions.
I’ve been writing for some time on the future of the American suburb. I’m starting to see a lot of others picking up the theme as well. Allison Arief, co-founder of Dwell, writes about it in the NYT. And Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley of the Brookings Institution add their take over at Newsweek.
I previously wrote a positive review of Bruce Mau’s “Massive Change”. Well, I stumbled upon this interesting negative take that is worth a rhttp://www.urbanophile.com/2008/11/23/detroit-do-the-collapse/”>posting about Detroit, I threw out the idea of prison reform as a radical idea Michigan might need to explore – the state spends more on prisons than education. Well, they are exploring it.
Speaking of Detroit, check out this must see web site called onlynDetroit. You’ve all seen the famous Michigan Central rail station. Well, not like this. This site posts the photographs of the station Keith Jolly took in 1973 when it was still a functioning rail terminal. Many of these are contrasted with shots from today. Incredible.
Here’s a story that shows the challenge of regional collaboration. PDS Biotechnology is relocating from Cincinnati to Indianapolis thanks to $2 million in state grants. In a mega-regional world, this would be a net zero for the region. However, in a more traditional view, it’s a gain for Indy and a loss for Cincy. It’s hard to fault anyone for competing hard for business, but I think it goes to show the beggar thy neighbor econdev approach that is prominent in the Midwest. The challenge is really to build a region where rising overall prosperity obviates the need for things like this. In the meantime, the only thing I can see practically that might stop this is some sort of mutual non-compete agreement. The idea would be something like Indy has with its suburbs. Regionally, companies could move and people could offer incentives, but the home town would have right of first refusal, and only if they couldn’t make a deal would it be more open. In this case, I believe Ohio doesn’t have the equivalent of a 21st century fund, so the move might have occured anyway. As long as people believe that their neighboring cities and states see them as fertile poaching ground for econdev, there will never be sufficient trust for true cross-region collaboration. In the meantime, may the best city and state win.
Here is an interesting op-ed column from Dayton. What I find notable is the fact that the author up front acknowledges, “There is no longer a specific need for the city of Dayton to exist.” That actually sums up any number of Midwest cities. They no longer have a raison d’etre in the 21st century economy. The challenge for them is to rethink themselves to become relevant, though for many that future will involve getting a lot smaller.
The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City is still looking for $60 more million. I previously contrasted the hefty sum being spent on the building versus the relatively paltry operating budgets of the institutions that will be housed there in “Kansas City’s Edifice Complex“.
Denver thinks it can successfully ride out the recession.
The Tribune carries another “big sort” type article talking about how American communities are increasingly becoming ideologically polarized. It’s an ongoing threat to our nation, IMO.
A cool web site of Pittsburgh signs.
The US Conference of Mayors predicts job losses this year. Not surprisingly given that it is the largest metro, New York is expected to lead the pack with a decline of 181,000 jobs.
More on the outmigration from California.
The IHT reprints a couple of old but good Monocle articles on cities (hat tip Richard Layman)
President Obama’s official urban policy is now online.
Low trading leaves Chicago Stock Exchange in danger (Chicago Tribune)
A never-ending fight to fix roads (Chicago Tribune)
Properties going once, going twice, going nowhere (Indy Star)
Burnsville goes for broke with its city arts center (Star-Tribune)