Friday, September 11th, 2009

Midwest Miscellany

Recession Job Losses

The Windy Citizen pointed me at coverage of metro area job losses in the recession. Here is how the 12 cities I principally cover in this blog stacked up, sorted in descending order of percentage losses:

  1. Detroit; 139,600 jobs; -7.5%
  2. Milwaukee; 44,800; -5.2%
  3. Cleveland; 54,100; -5.1%
  4. Chicago; 206,200; -4.5%
  5. Indianapolis; 40,200; -4.4%
  6. Cincinnati; 42,200; -4.0%
  7. Louisville; 22,900; -3.7%
  8. Minneapolis-St. Paul; 63,100; -3.5%
  9. St. Louis; 43,900; -3.3%
  10. Pittsburgh; 32,800 – 2.8%
  11. Kansas City; 21,900; -2.1%
  12. Columbus, Ohio; 19,600; -2.1%

A couple things that jump out of me from this are that Chicago and Indianapolis are doing far worse than conventional wisdom views of their overall economic health. Both regions are getting clobbered. The Pittsburgh story gets some additional ammunition, as does my view that Columbus is the next Midwestern star.

Recession Job Recovery

So when will the jobs come back? Nobody knows for sure, but an organization called IHS Global Insight has predicted the year in which employment will match its pre-recession peak in various major US cities (via IBJ News Talk):

  • Kansas City: 2011
  • Columbus: 2012
  • Indianapolis: 2012
  • Louisville: 2013
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul: 2013
  • Pittsburgh: 2013
  • Chicago: 2014
  • Cincinnati: 2014
  • St. Louis: 2014
  • Cleveland: After 2015
  • Detroit: After 2015
  • Milwaukee: After 2015

High Speed Rail Roundup

Harvard economist Ed Glaeser writes for the NYT Economix blog. A few weeks ago he did a four part series on high speed rail. I’d meant to do a post on this but didn’t get around to it. So here are some belated links. I think it is fair to say he’s a skeptic:

Race is on to grab stake in rail effort (WSJ)

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: Is America Allergic to High Speed Rail? (WSJ Op-Ed)

Amtrak runs off the rails (New Geography)

The “Prince of Pops” Dead at 74

Erich Kunzel, longstanding pops conductor at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, died recently at aged 74.

The Cincinnati Symphony is a well known national orchestra, but it was as the Cincinnati Pops under Kunzel that they achieved their greatest popular success. Kunzel recorded 85 albums with the Cincinnati Pops, an astonishing 55 of which made it into the top 10 on the Billboard classical charts. They sold over 10 million copies and and earned several grammy awards. Truly a giant has passed.

Indy Cultural Trail Bus Shelters

The Indy Cultural Trail program announced that it will be installing three new bus shelters along the trail designed by local architect Donna Sink:

These shelters will feature the works from local poets, and are also constructed with an eco-friendly design.

Ohio Ambassadors

@AndreaApplegate pointed me at this program the state of Ohio is launching called “Ohio Ambassadors” looking for volunteers who are willing to “tell the Ohio story”. Done correctly, this could be a big win. In fact, it is something I suggested that Indianapolis adopt at variation of, particularly for minorities. Let’s face it, if you are an ethnic professional, gay, etc. and considering a move to the Midwest, the reputation alone could give you pause. But the Midwest is already diverse today. Why not tap into that by getting local volunteers of similar backgrounds to be on “hot standby” to help show a prospective recruit around town and show him or here that there will be a community of people like them, an active social life, access to native culture, etc.? This might actually prove more powerful than any swank dinner or trip to the local sports team’s skybox.

One thing about this program that caught my eye was the concept of the “Ambassador at Large”, which is made up of, “Anybody not living in our state that has had a positive Ohio experience and wants to Share the Ohio Story with others.” Imagine that, looking at people who left as a sort of field sales force and and actual asset.

We’ll see what this program turns out to be since so few details are available. If it is just a marketing mailing list and some freebies, it probably won’t amount to much. But done right, it could have some benefits.

Powering the World With Solar

Here’s an interesting map showing the surface area that would be required to supply the world’s energy needs with solar power. I don’t know if it is accurate, but it is provocative.

Portland Creatives Find Ways to Work Together

GOOD explores the problem of what to do when there are more people who want to live in a city than jobs for them with regards to Portland, Oregon:

Portland, Oregon—the misty evergreen Shangri-La for the young, the creative, and the progressive—has an interesting problem. Its miles of bike lanes, its rock-bottom rents, its deep vats of craft brews are all far too good. Yes, Portland has actually made itself too attractive. According to one study that compared May of 2009 with May of 2008, Oregon’s unemployment has grown faster than any other state in the country, 3 percent. For large metropolitan areas in the country, Portland has one of the highest unemployment rates, which topped out at about 11.8 percent—even higher than Detroit. To blame, some economists believe, are the large numbers of designers and artists who have been moving there without jobs….As I strolled the city from meeting to meeting, I realized that out of necessity, Portland is quickly finding the answers to a much greater issue that’s going to affect an increasingly freelance workforce across the country: Where are all these people going to work?

This interesting piece talks about firms opening up their office space for “co-working”, and interesting things like low cost space in converted motels turning into labs for small business startups.

Paris Metro Augmented Reality Application

One of the super-cool features of the new iPhone 3GS is the so-called “augmented reality”, where you hold up the phone and view a live picture of what is in front of you through the camera lens, with information overlaid on it.

The first app out there taking advantage of this is the Paris metro system. You activate the map, hold up your phone, and you see a picture of the street with big signs where the metro is. Pretty cool. Of course naturally they also include advertising as well. You can search for McDonald’s and Starbucks. I don’t know about you, but the sight of all those huge American logos on the streetscapes of Paris is pretty creepy.

Here’s a video demonstration. It’s in French, but even if you don’t speak the language, the pictures are worth a thousand words. So enjoy a little “réalité augmentée”

National and International Roundup

Joel Kotkin looks at world capitals of the future.

There is more tension and fallout from demographic change resulting from the surging white population of the city of Atlanta, as the CS Monitor reports how a “Memo about a ‘black agenda’ in mayor’s race roils Atlanta“. Interestingly, as a city that has long been known as a great place for blacks to live, we may be looking at the first major city in America to flip from majority white to majority black and back again. The dynamics resulting from this will be important for others to study, particularly as central cities regain attraction to many of the people who originally fled them for the suburbs, and their children. See also: “After 35 years, next Atlanta mayor may be white“.

Florida Exodus: Rising Taxes Drive Out Residents (Time Magazine via Yahoo)

Planetizen looks at toolkits and design design manuals.

A look at the power of flowers to improve urban streetscapes (via @GenslerOnCities)

Is making right turns easier always a good thing? Interesting thoughts from American Dirt.

Forbes looks at very smart cities in South Korea.

More Midwest

The Industrial Wonders of Northwest Indiana (Chicago Sojourn) – Great pictures. Related is “The Magic of Marktown” at the Chicagoist.
Celebrating the 100 year anniversary of the street addressing system (Tribune)
West Loop park infuses Chicago with green space (Inhabit)
O’Hare to get competition? (DC Velocity)
CTA to share bus tracker code with outside developers (CTA Tattler)

UofC Student Government Votes to Oppose Issue 9 (Urban Cincy)
Jobs aren’t coming back (Enquirer)

A lesson in municipal finance (Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space)
Southeast Michigan faces $35 billion deficit in road revenue (Detroit News)
Tolls may not cover Mackinac bridge upkeep (Detroit News)
Meijer sees a chance to prosper in Detroit (Daniel Howes @ Detroit News)
Michigan Subsidies Fail (WSJ op-ed) – study referenced comes from a right wing think tank

Indiana leads the nation – in coal ash ponds (C-J)
Surprise in Indiana: A deli worth the trip (The Atlantic) – Props for the Goose; h/t UrbanIndy
Arkansas Innovation: Stunning Southern Architecture (Web Urbanist) – awesome photos of the work of Marlon Blackwell, who is the architect of the visitor’s center at the forthcoming IMA Art and Nature Park.
NIMBY’s Gone Wild (Indy Star) – My title

Tyler Allen to enter mayor’s race (C-J) – Co-Founder of 8664
Neighbors want meat plant out of Butchertown (C-J) – Ironic headline of the day. I hope Louisville keeps in mind the need to preserve manufacturing in the city.
New sectors will heat up in Louisville’s economic recovery (C-J)

Aerotropolis Redux (Smart City Memphis)

Study fingers state for Milwaukee’s financial woes (J-S)
Zoo interchange delays could cost drivers millions (J-S)
Doyle renews push for transit plan (J-S)

St. Louis
CVS store design rejected (StlUrbanWorkshop) – Attributed to “recently arrived neighbors passionate about urban design”

Topics: Sustainability, Transportation
Cities: Cincinnati, Columbus (Ohio), Indianapolis, Paris

3 Responses to “Midwest Miscellany”

  1. Crocodileguy says:

    Aaron, I'm pretty disappointed with your decision to title the IndyStar article about 49th and Penn "NIMBYs Gone Wild." There is a lot to this case that concerns me, not the least of which is because it affects my childhood neighborhood.

    First off, it should be known that the remake of this strip includes a bit of croneyism on the part of the developer. Meridian Heights cleaners has been located at this strip for years, and it's a nice, family-owned business. The strip owner is trying to force out the owner of Meridian Heights so he can put a Deering cleaners in there…because he's friends with one of the Deering guys. Deering has a near-monopoly in the area, owning several other cleaners by different names, and Meridian Heights is one of the few alternatives to Deering's poor service.

    Secondly, the plans for this remake include REDUCING the sidewalk space along 49th St. to accommodate a patio deck, a move which would be extremely pedestrian-unfriendly for an area that prides itself on its walkability.

    Thirdly, the developer wants to eliminate the sidewalk space (currently asphalt driveway paved over the old streetside sidewalk) and push the storefront parking to within 2 feet of Pennsylvania St. Aaron, this area is already somewhat dangerous with cars backing out onto the street from behind other cars, and they have an ample buffer now.

    Fourthly, in eliminating the current pedestrian space, the developer wants to expand the walkway in front of the storefronts and place outdoor seating on it, yet also redesignate this space as the public sidewalk. Currently, this walkway is up a staircase, so it is not ADA accessible, and with tables and chairs and waiters and waitresses, I do not see the practicality of outdoor dining sharing this space with dog walkers, children on tricycles, and other members of the public. I also have concerns over the ADA accessibility of this space.

    Finally, having a safe, public sidewalk at this space is paramount because there are no stop signs between 49th St. and 52nd for children to safely cross the street. With the commercial activity currently at 49th and Penn, cars do speed through here and I have personally witnessed many near-misses…and that's with a sidewalk/pedestrian space on both sides of the street. I cannot fathom what removing or relocating the sidewalk would do to this area, but I know it would kill the pedestrian environment and have a dubious effect on pedestrian mobility.

    To this end, all of the work the developer is trying to accomplish requires 11 variances as of now, and they have made no move to engage the community whatsoever. Concerns of the neighbors are ignored, and the attitude of this developer is one of "this is what's going in whether you like it or not."

    There is far more to this proposal than contained within the Star article, and I think it would behoove your readers if you refrained from being too glib with your headlines when you haven't really investigated a story yourself–especially a story of a proposal to make a popular neighborhood commercial node that is very pedestrian-friendly into an auto-oriented development with such massive reductions in the public right-of-way and sidewalks.

  2. Ahow says:

    Here is a site I had seen a couple of weeks ago. They think that the 25,000 square miles of roadway in the US could power the world and then some if made with solar panels. Good stuff, if a little sci-fi-ish.

  3. OINKER says:

    Thanks for the links to HSR discussion. The Pork Train is fatter than even I had thought.

    Interesting to note some of the numbers used to 'help' make the case are overblown. ie $40/Hour….if the average rider earned $85K (that is @30% higher than the median) and no time charged for driving to the Pork Station.


    They should couple the Pork Train with Health Care. Double the fat and the possibility of getting help for your clogged arteries.

The Urban State of Mind: Meditations on the City is the first Urbanophile e-book, featuring provocative essays on the key issues facing our cities, including innovation, talent attraction and brain drain, global soft power, sustainability, economic development, and localism. Included are 28 carefully curated essays out of nearly 1,200 posts in the first seven years of the Urbanophile, plus 9 original pieces. It's great for anyone who cares about our cities.

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