Friday, February 18th, 2011


Crowns are won by many friends and well-crammed money bags – Sophocles, Oedipus the King

For those of you in Chicago, there’s an interesting looking event coming up on March 22nd. The Chicago Council on Global Affairs Young Professionals group is bringing in Greg Lindsay, who co-wrote Aerotropolis, and noted local architect Jeanne Gang to talk about building cities according to the logic of globalization.

Top Stories

1. Joel Kotkin: America’s Biggest Brain Magnets

2. Esquire: Mike Bloomberg Will Save Us From Ourselves If We Let Him

3. Scott Eden: Fantasies Made Fresh – A 2004 article about a handful of towns across the river from St. Louis that are almost entirely supported by the strip club trade. Brought to my attention via

4. NYT: Mayor of Rust – Yet another feature, this time in the NYT Magazine, of Braddock, Pennsylvania mayor John Fetterman. I’ve got to admit that I can’t help but wonder whether the Braddock phenomenon has done more to help that city or John Fetterman, who’s become a media darling and mini-celebrity.

More Chrysler Super Bowl Responses

There are a few additional articles out there about the Chrysler Super Bowl ad I thought you might like. One is Andrew Shears’ Detroit, Eminem, and Chrysler’s Geographic Imagination. Another is by St. Louis journalist Tim Logan who writes about Chrysler’s Super Bowl ad and the power of a city’s brand. And over at Grist, Sarah Goodyear asks, How Do You Sell a City Without Selling Out?

Ed Glaeser on the Daley Show

You may have noticed that Ed Glaeser is ubiquitous these days as he’s out touting his new book The Triumph of the City. Here’s an appearance he did on the Daily Show (if the video doesn’t display click here).

World and National Roundup

Saskia Sassen: Talking Back to Your Intelligent City

Ed Glaeser: How skyscrapers can save the city

Ben Schulman: China’s empty trains and other unintended consequences

Cogito Urbanus: The Future of American Cities May Be Vancouver, BC

Linda Baker: White in the White City

Jason Tinkey: Night Falls on Hoboken

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: We’re Not Really Rooting for Ourselves Anymore

Ray Leach: Will the Midwest Become the Next Silicon Valley?. See also: Can You Really Build a Great Tech Firm Outside Silicon Valley

Detroit Blog: Desolation Angel

Wes Janz: This is Flint, Michigan

WSJ: Pittsburgh’s Pension Woes Call for a Hail Mary

Indy Star: Beyond the Big Game – The Indy Star is taking a year long look at what’s next for the city of Indianapolis.

Ed Glaeser: Assessing the Daley Legacy in Chicago

Changing Gears: Daley and Chicago’s Economic Transformation

Richard Longworth: City of Narrow Shoulders

James Warren: Chicago’s Inequities Belie World-Class Imagery

Stifling Highway Dissent in North Carolina

There was an interesting story in North Carolina, where the state’s transportation officials are trying to prosecute someone for practicing engineering without a license for submitting an eight page traffic analysis on behalf of his neighborhood association. I guess you can provide input during the public involvement process, just don’t be too good at it.

Post Script

And here’s a classic from the one and only Fail Blog:


12 Responses to “Urbanoscope”

  1. Greg Lindsay says:

    Hi Aaron,

    Thanks for the plug; I hope you can make it on March 22nd. I can promise everyone a lively debate about utopian vs. the dystopian urbanism.



  2. John Morris says:

    All the a hundred hours of stories about Braddock tell us almost nothing accurate about the place. Half of them, evade that the mill is still there, running at a good clip. Non, I have seen mention that the town for 30 years was in the planned right of way of a huge expressway. Most also don’t make clear just how close it is too Pittsburgh

    I do know a bit, and some of the people involved but have been reluctant to stir the pot too much. I will try to paint a somewhat accurate picture on my blog soon.

  3. Chris Barnett says:

    That WSJ Pittsburgh pension article was not positive in any way. In fact, it was quite scary.

  4. John Morris says:

    Here are two articles about the Mon Fayette Expressway, one from 2001, back when Richard Florida was at CMU and helping fight it.

    The other is from, 2005. Even today, one can’t be sure it’s dead. Amazingly, in spite of this project having consumed a lot of John Fetterman’s time, he almost never talks about it to the national press.

    Amazingly, none of the press ever used google or asked about it. IMHO, there seems to be a real effort to build inaccurate myths about Braddock’s real history on the part of most involved.

  5. John Morris says:

    Here’s a post about it in 2006. It’s really only in the last, two years or so when it has begun to look like this leg of the progect is dead and without funding.

    Simply, beyond belief that stories by allegedly responsible reporters don’t mention the biggest single factor affecting Braddock over the last 20 years.

  6. DBR96A says:

    John Fetterman strikes me as a poor man’s Jesse Ventura.

  7. John Morris says:

    The personalities in real life are very different. I think, Ventura came across as someone who didn’t take things or himself too seriously.

    Fetterman, is actually pretty quiet, aloof, and obviously somewhat intimidating and he takes himself–and his “mission”, very seriously.

    He’s almost an updated version of the 19th centuray missionary and has in many ways created the same reaction.

    While on he has helped make Braddock well known, He hasn’t acted like the optimistic, but realistic chearleader, Braddock needs.

    That, being said, he is very dedicated.

  8. John Morris says:

    FYI, this is a somewhat educated opinion. Me and my girlfriend go to events at the Braddock-art studio/ gallery often and know, Jeb, Jodi (the girl who bought the bank building) and other residents talked about in the article.

    Although we are regulars at events and fudraisers and obviously, very interested and supportive, we have found it hard to know the mayor, or get honest info on opportunities there.

  9. Curt says:

    That story from NC about the DOT trying to sue the citizen scares me. Sounds like traditional bully tactics. I hope the guy gets his day in the sun. For the sake of the rest of us non-engineering licensed transportation activists

  10. Wad says:

    John Morris wrote:

    I think, Ventura came across as someone who didn’t take things or himself too seriously.

    Jesse Ventura, a very fascinating man in ways both good and bad, has always fallen back on what brought him the most fame and fortune.

    That would be professional wrestling.

    You don’t have to look at Ventura’s in-ring career, and it’s probably best you don’t. :) Praising Ventura’s wrestling career is like complimenting Albert Einstein for being the world’s smartest patent clerk.

    He had a relatively short wrestling career, and his work is regarded negatively. However, he became highly regarded for his color-commentary. For many years, his partner at the desk was Vince McMahon — the owner of one of the biggest entertainment brands in the globe.

    Ventura brought all of the devices learned in his pro wrestling days to politics, and his apex came when he surprised all by winning the Minnesota governorship.

    On the one hand, Ventura had a very wide appeal. He could best be described as Ron Paul’s left-wing alter ego or a throwback to early 20th century progressive populism.

    On the other hand, Ventura became a washout right after he was elected because politics, like war, depends on how well the armies fight. Both the DFL and GOP had drawn a bead on him and worked to divide him from his policies.

    Since he was alone politically, he had fallen back on his stock pro wrestling devices. Minnesotans grew weary of it all, though, and that was that.

  11. John Morris says:

    Well, I’m not that familiar with Ventura.My impression with Fetterman is also only semi educated. I see him at events, and haven’t made an effort to make contact however he ussually stands out as one of the few not interacting.

    In general in spite of the major media publicity, getting actual info about Braddock or contacting people is difficult.

    For example, my backround is as an artist, who moved from NYC into Pittsburgh–just the kind of person they might be looking for. The simple step of having a clear, curating process and contact info for the studio gallery space has been a problem. Now, clearly, the mayor and others are very busy, but they also have had many offers of support, opportunities for interns etc..

    One hears a lot of stories about people trying to call, or make contact being blown off.

  12. John Morris says:

    Yes Curt, particularly since engineers are not realy trained in many of the most relevant issues affecting traffic, most of which are more about human psychology, economic choice (opportunty costs, alternative use) and land development.

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