Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

The State of Chicago Index

Although less ambitious than I originally intended, my State of Chicago series still ended up taking 20 installments spread out over several months. For those of you who did not see it all, I’m presenting here a complete index of the articles in the series.

The Second-Rate City? (published in City Journal)

Part One: Civic Conditions
The Decline and Rise – Chicago’s Rust Belt malaise of the 70s and 80s followed by the boom years of the 90s.
New Century Struggles – Chicago takes a hard fall in the 2000s
New Century Strengths – Things that remain right with Chicago
Chicago, Summer Crime, and the Slide Towards Detroit – Mark Bergen writes an aside on Chicago’s recent crime problems, and it’s affect on the city
Explaining the 1990s vs. the 2000s – A look at why, if the structural problems I will outline in subsequent posts were always there, did Chicago’s performance diverge so much between these two decades
The Risks of Recovery – Don’t let an uptick lull you into a false sense of security

Part Two: Framing the Problems
Lacking a Calling Card Industry – How Chicago’s lack of a signature industry that can drive superior wealth generation and economic output hampers the city
What Is a Global City? – Some general thoughts on what a global citi s
Chicago As a Global City – Chicago’s weakness as a global city
Hog Butcher No More, But Service Purveyor to Same? – Chicago Fed Economist Bill Testa shows that Chicago’s economy is still linked to the greater Midwest and the manufacturing cycle as a whole
Gaps in Chicago’s Global City Fabric – Chicago’s weaknesses as a global city in areas like media and fashion.

Part Three: Fixing Chicago
Rahm’s Work in Progress – Things Mayor Rahm Emanuel is already doing to address Chicago’s challenges.
Rethinking Brand Chicago – It’s time for Chicago to stop branding itself as global city goo and give the world a punch in the face with a little old school Chicago.
Some Additional Chicago Fixes – A roundup of items I’ve already covered in depth elsewhere, and so won’t repost as part of this series.
Thought’s on Chicago’s Tech Scene – Chicago tech is strong – stronger than I anticipated it would be. But a few tweaks would help.
The Midwest’s Global Gateway – Aligning Chicago’s global ambitions with being the regional capital of the Midwest
Improving Chicago’s Business Climate – A number of specific recommendations for improving the business climate of the city, particularly in the neighborhoods and for small businesses.
Chicago’s Northwest Indiana Advantage

Goodbye, Chicago – Thoughts on leaving Chicago.

Topics: Civic Branding, Demographic Analysis, Economic Development, Globalization, Public Policy, Talent Attraction, Technology, Transportation, Urban Culture
Cities: Chicago

8 Responses to “The State of Chicago Index”

  1. Josh S says:

    Less ambitious than you had originally thought? This could be a good standalone book/pamphlet/guide to the mid-term development of the city. I love the articles I’ve read, and look forward to the rest.

    Thanks for all you do, Mr. Renn!

  2. BBnet3000 says:

    “Improving Chicago’s Business Climate” is presently linking back to this page fyi.

  3. Josh, appreciate the kind words.

    BBnet, thanks for the tip – fixed!

  4. Racaille says:

    One more installment. You must really love this city, Aaron. It’s ok, you can come back. Chicago is know as a city that will give you a second chance, unlike NYC or Los Angeles.

    In the meantime, I am looking forward to the 20 installment series on the powerhouse that is Houston, Tx.

    First up. How Texas’ incentive program is unsustainable and dangerous.

    Happy Holidays.

  5. Dan W says:

    I love this series of write ups. Now answer me this; how do we get this in front of Rahm? I don’t mean that as a joke, I’m very serious. I’ve been reading The Urbanophile blog for years and I’ve always hoped that someone from the mayors office was too. There are just so many good ideas here. I know Mr Renn has moved on to NY but what I would give to have someone of his caliber advising the mayor.

  6. Dan, I feel pretty confident that people who can take ideas to the mayor if appropriate have read the series. I’ve been gratified at the types of people in leadership positions in Chicago who have been readers over the years.

  7. Tom says:

    I enjoyed this series too, and thanks for putting it all in one place. It’s interesting to contrast your (I think it’s fair to say) declinist tone with my own perspective as a relatively new arrival to Chicago from San Francisco. The growth of global Chicago seems to me like it’s happening at a breakneck pace, so the 1990s must have really been something else.

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.

About the Urbanophile


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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