Friday, November 12th, 2010


Urbanization, one of humankind’s most successful and ambitious programs, is the triumph of the unnatural over the natural, the grid over the organic… Underway on a scale never before witnessed, one side effect of urbanization is the liberation of vast depopulated territories for the efficient production of “nature”. – Bruce Mau

For all my fans in Central Ohio, I am going to be the speaker at the Harrison Smith, Jr. Design Awards ceremony at the Columbus Metropolitan Club. There’s open registration for the event, so click on over to the site and sign up. There’s going to be a Q&A so you’ll have a chance to have me answer your questions too.

Top Stories

Alex Pazuchanics: Stop Worrying About Losing Young Pittsburghers – “Our region’s growth will come not from trying to keep people in Pittsburgh, but from capitalizing on a highly mobile culture. Pittsburgh should be the physical epicenter of a much larger reality: people moving freely, bringing with them their ideas and experiences, allowing for new developments to occur. Some people will stay in the Pittsburgh region; others will leave and later return to start a new family or open a business; still others will leave and never return. But they all will remain connected to a Pittsburgh that is not just a place, but a people.”

Witold Rybczynski: The Cities We Want: Part One and Part Two – “Judging from the direction that American urbanism has taken during the second half of the 20th century, one answer is unequivocal—Americans want to live in cities that are spread out.”

WSJ: Finnish architect has a rap (literally) on modern urban architecture – “Architecture lectures commonly involve laser pointers and slides. In his, architect Tuomas Toivonen prefers throbbing bass and electronic drums. ‘U is for Utopia, U is for Utopia,’ Mr. Toivonen rapped at a recent New York performance of his new record, which he bills as ‘an architectural album.’ Yes, he makes records, too.”

Last Chance Indianapolis Parking Meters

The Indianapolis City-County Council is scheduled to vote on the proposed parking meter lease on Monday. This is your last chance to call or write your councilor to urge him or her to vote against the deal.

This proposed lease is universally unpopular outside the administration and is a terrible deal for the city, something that has been amply documented by me and many, many others. Don’t let the city make a mistake it will regret for the next 50 years.

Well Being Map

Thanks to Richard Florida for pointing us at the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. It’s worth a look.

World and National Roundup

Owen Hatherley: Flyovers – A look at the ubiquitous elevated expressways in Shanghai and what they say about that city and about China. He also has a follow-up piece Megalopolis

David Brooks: The Crossroads Nation

Human Transit: The Basics of Stop and Station Spacing

Steven Vance: Buffered bike lanes makes bicycling easy – A couple of interesting videos.

Rust Wire: Officials need to know people are concerned about the Great Lakes

Next American City: Integration in Chicago – On the Train if Not in Housing

NYT: Washington Rethinks Its Rules on Building Height

Boston Globe: Aerotroplis – The rise of a vibrant new kind of city – and how Massachusetts missed a chance to have one

Pop City Media: The Entrepreneurial City: Pittsburgh?

WKRC-TV: Lessons Cincinnati Could Learn from Pittsburgh

Transport Politic: New transit plan for Indianapolis emphasizes frequency over splash.

City of Cyclists

Copenhagenize had another cool video of bicycling in Copenhagen called City of Cyclists. (Click the link if it doesn’t display for you).

Post Script

Apparently you can now ride the number 6 train in New York through a turnback loop to see the abandoned but very well preserved City Hall Station:

Topics: Transportation

6 Responses to “Urbanoscope”

  1. Curt says:

    Ive emailed my CCC reps continuously about th poor parking meter plan. I just hope that they can get a swing to vote no on this pile of ____. Thanks for all the work you have done Aaron. We wouldnt even be this close to getting it voted down if not for you

  2. Eric says:

    I think that concluding that since new American “cities” are car-dependent and sprawling, American’s must prefer sprawl is an over-simplification at best, and may demonstrate a misunderstanding of causality. Since nearly all furniture that is sold in America is made of particle-board, American’s must prefer plywood furniture over well-crafted, dovetail construction, right?

    I think the that evidence that most expensive housing per square foot is in high-density, walkable neighborhood well-served by transit is probably a better indication of what kinds of cities Americans prefer. The fact that sprawl is cheap is what matters.

  3. If you are a member of the New York City Transit museum, on special occasions, they will take a 6 train back there, stop before it comes back around and let a tour group out to get a look. I’ve never had the privilege, but would definitely like to sometime.

  4. Mordant says:

    Too late on the Indy parking meter sell out.

    Barnes and Thornburg wins again.

  5. Keith Morris says:

    The city of Columbus should be paying you at least double what they paid Rebecca Ryan to tell us to make our downtown cool and hip for young professionals. You’ll actually be giving real advice, although it’s almost certain that what you suggest will be ignored. Giving advice on good urbanism to city leadership is like talking to a brick wall, and I speak from personal experience.

    We didn’t want a streetcar, we want street-level highways added on the current highway dividing Downtown and other neighborhoods, we don’t want more revitalized neighborhoods like the Short North and German Village (Take a tour of Parsons Ave, Cleveland, E Main, E Livingston, Sullivant, and W Broad to see how little of urban Columbus has changed for the better), we want to spend most of our transportation dollars on road widening projects, and our major concern for downtown is more and easier parking. Good luck.

  6. Jim Russell says:

    “The city of Columbus should be paying you at least double what they paid Rebecca Ryan to tell us to make our downtown cool and hip for young professionals.”


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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Aaron M. Renn is an opinion-leading urban analyst, consultant, speaker, and writer on a mission to help America’s cities thrive and find sustainable success in the 21st century.

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