Friday, March 18th, 2011
For those of you in Chicago, I will be giving a lecture on the past, present, and future of the transportation infrastructure and quality of space in downtown Chicago. It’s part of the Friends of Downtown Chicago monthly lecture series on Thursday April 7th at Noon at the Chicago Cultural Center at Washington St. and Michigan Ave. Admission is free so come on down – and please say Hi if we haven’t met.
This will be my last Urbanscope post. While my news roundups are popular, they are also among the most time consuming I produce – and obviously I’ve already read all the articles. If you are interested in seeing a variety of curated links from me, you can follow me on Twitter. Also effective immediately I’m reducing my regular posting schedule from four to three times per week.
One of the ideas coming out the Livability Summit CEOs for Cities held in Indianapolis was holding a design competition to rethink Monument Circle. Well, Indy just did. You can check out the competition web site if you are interested.
1. Stephen Goldsmith: Progressive government is obsolete – “For cities to survive, we need a post-progressive approach in which the efficient creation of the common good is the shared goal of labor, management and citizens alike. This means rethinking the rules of the early 20th century in light of the realities of the 21st century. A system that hires without discretion, promotes without considering performance, and lays off teachers without regard to merit cannot truly serve its citizens.”
2. WSJ: Bruised Feelings and Skinned Knees Litter Suburban Sidewalk Politics – This is an article about controversy over installing sidewalks in suburbs. I think it’s a perfect illustration of my previous post about the need for generational turnover for change to really happen in our cities. Note the ages of the people who are opposing sidewalks. This isn’t about a back to the movement. It’s about something as basic as whether kids will have a safe way to get to school.
Government, Government Everywhere
The indispensable Chris Briem has an amazing infographic of a word cloud showing every single unit of state and local government in America scaled by number of employees – all 90,000 of them. This is incredible to behold. Here’s a preview image:
You can see the full version by downloading this 50MB PDF file – if your computer can handle it.
Mapping Place Marks
Floating Sheep put together this interesting cartogram of Google place marks by county/state:
Via the Transportationist, here is a neat graphic of ring roads of the world:
Livability and quality of experience are often driven by the smallest details. Copenhagenize has tirelessly shown us these in that city. Here’s one example I recently noted in Chicago. At the new Grand and State L station, the new design has a ramp along the edge of the stairway so you can roll your bicycle to the subway:
Unfortunately, this only seems to go from the street to the mezzanine, and not from the mezzanine to the platform. Nevertheless, this shows how a little thought can go a long way. Very nice.
World and National Roundup
This Big City: Is High Speed Rail the Future of Cities?
Transport Politic: Financing the nation’s infrastructure in an era of cutbacks
Wheels.CA: The science behind traffic jams – This contains a cool infographic that is unfortunately too big to fit here.
Copenhagenize: Bicycle freedom in Japan and beyond
Kaid Benfield: Is there a downside to intelligent or smart cities?
Jason Tinkey: Youth Explosion
The Economist: Bogotá’s rise and fall – Can Enrique Peñalosa restore a tarnished municipal model?
NYT: For City’s Transportation Chief, Kudos and Criticism – The manufactured media tempest around bike lanes just goes to show what a few influential NIMBY’s can accomplish. The Guardian bike blog picks up on the Park Slope bike lane dispute in a piece called “How one New York bike lane could affect the future of cycling worldwide.”
The Economist: Rust Belt Recovery
Global Midwest: A master plan for higher education in the Midwest
Charlie LeDuff: My Detroit Story
St. Louis Energized: What does new thinking for the future of St. Louis mean?
Indianapolis Business Journal: Angie’s List lands $53 million investment – I’ll doubtless get dinged for boosterism on this one, but Indy’s downtown has quite a burgeoning tech scene going on. Angie’s List employs 400 on the Near East Side and Exact Target 500 downtown, with several other startups around too. It’s starting to represent some serious private sector investment and jobs in a downtown that needs it.
Forbes: America’s Second Largest High School Gym Is Just About a Goner – Coverage of the pending closure of the legendary Anderson, Indiana “Wigwam.” While certainly not entirely or even primarily to blame for this, I can’t help but once again note the terrible decision by the IHSAA to go to class basketball.
Indy Star: Why Indy can learn from two cities that created great neighborhoods – Some great props for Columbus, Ohio in here. (Chicago is also mentioned, but already has the cred).
Vote With Your Feet: Walking Chicago’s Pulaski Road
UrbanCincy: Cincinnati Expatriate Neil Clingerman
Domus is running an article on Sagrada Familia, the still under construction church in Barcelona designed by Antoni Gaudí. It includes some simply stunning photographs that are by themselves worth a visit, in addition to the delightful article.
Quality of Space in Chicago
The Chicago-Lakeview Chamber of Commerce and its associated business improvement district put out an interesting proposal this week for a landscaped trail running underneath the L from Paulina to Southport, along with other possibilities:
While there are potential issues like noise, which is excruciating under the L, I think overall these sorts of ideas are exactly what Chicago ought to be looking at.
Lee Bey agrees, and talked about how this could be a model for other neighborhoods in a segment on Fox Chicago (h/t Ashvin Lad).
Building Better Blocks
Here’s a great video out of Dallas about something called the “Better Block Project.” Frustrated by a lack of complete streets in Dallas, a group of people took it upon themselves to do a demonstration project themselves on a single block in Dallas to show what could be done. It’s a temporary installation, but they spent less than $1000 total, which shows that you don’t have to spend big money to achieve great results. (If the video doesn’t display, click here).
Have a great weekend, everybody.