Friday, March 4th, 2011
Yours Truly was featured in a Swiss Public Radio feature on segregation in Chicago. It’s in German, but if you speak it, you can listen here.
I was also featured in this Indianapolis Star piece called Indianapolis Neighborhoods Battle Blight.
I get some interesting feedback on the links I tweet and post here, so I thought I’d make my editorial policy on these clear. I’m trying to provide a diversity of views and perspectives on cities, so I don’t necessarily have to personally agree with or endorse every aspect of the articles I link – or even the ones I repost from elsewhere. I’m a bigger fan of New Urbanism than Will Wiles, for example, but I think he brought an interesting perspective to the table that was worth listening too and made some important points. There’s far too much dogma out there, and I want this to be a place where all of us, including myself, get to listen to contrary views from time to time.
1. Ellen Dannin: Crumbling Infrastructure, Crumbling Democracy – This paper in the Northwestern Journal of Law and Social Policy looks at various contract provisions in privatization contracts that end up hurting the public. I think it’s fair to say that Dannin is no fan of privatization. I’m certainly more favorable to it than she is, but this paper does an important service in highlighting contract provisions that are seldom discussed, the sorts of things that constrain our ability to adapt public policy to changing public needs and desires over time. She also highlights how contrary to popular belief, often very little risk in these deals is actually transferred to the private company. A lot of the provisions that protect the private companies in this instance actually seem to have come out of contracts used for investment in third world countries. This is definitely recommended reading.
2. Newsweek: Chicago: America’s Hottest City – This profile is a bit over the top frankly, but still great press for the city.
3. San Francisco Chronicle: Low-flow toilets cause a stink – Bleaching the Bay
More Urban Data
In addition to my own urban data web site, I wanted to highlight a couple of other cool data apps.
The first is called FasPark. It’s an app for your phone that helps you find parking spots. Unlike other parking apps that failed because they tried to track the inventory of individual spots and couldn’t do it, FasPark works by giving you a route that is, based on historic spot availability, the fastest route for you to drive to find a spot. You can choose whether you want free, metered, etc. Right now it’s in beta and is only available in Chicago. My friends who created this are looking for people to test it out though. So visit their web site at www.faspark.com and download the Android app (iPhone coming soon), or browse the app online from your phone. Here’s a screen shot:
The other is from my friends over at IBM and is called City Forward. It’s also a data terminal of sorts, though I think has a bit of a different focus from me. I like that they have data for some international cities and also that you can start collaborative discussions around a visualization. They got a nice mention in the Journal, so check them out.
World and National Roundup
Phillips has announced the finalists in their 2011 Livable Cities Award. You can actually vote on who should win if you’re interested.
The Economist: Londonism and Its Adherents
Politico: Transportation’s road to recovery
NYT: Broke Town, USA
Otis White: The Mayor as Manager
Rust Wire: Pros and cons of “Triumph of the City” – A review of Glaeser’s book.
Ed Glaeser: Plenty of reasons people want to live in Houston
NYT: In Indianapolis, the World Comes to Eat – I refer the right honourable gentleman to the answer I gave some time ago. You might also be interested today’s Indy Star piece on the subject. Jolene Ketzenberger has also written on this area in the past as well.
UrbanCincy: Pushing the Racial Dialog in Cincinnati
ChicagoTribune: City conducts first bike count study.
Dennis Byrne: Wanted: The Suburbanization of Chicago
NY Observer: Is Detroit the Next New York?
State of Downtown Chicago
The Chicago Loop Alliance published a very interesting report will all sorts of facts about downtown Chicago. The most troubling was featured in a Sun-Times article discussing how employment in the Loop fell from 338,000 in 2000 to 275,000 in 2010, a 63,000 decline or 18.6%, which is a whole heaping bowl of Not Good.
But there is plenty to celebrate in the report as well, including an exploding residential base, rising residential real estate prices, and a huge college presence. The colleges known collectively as “Loop U” now have 65,000 students, making the Chicago Loop in effect the state’s biggest college campus. There’s also strong pedestrian traffic downtown, as this cool chart shows:
Love the Future
Daniel Lippman pointed me at an interesting short from BMW called How We’ll Learn to Stop Worrying and Love the Future about transportation technology changes. (Click the link if the video doesn’t display for you).
Via Dezeen, here’s a very interesting looking orange cube of a building: