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Showing posts from June, 2016

Globalization's challenge to cities

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Thursday's referendum in Britain on whether to remain in the European Union has been interpreted, at least in part, as a referendum on the increasing integration of economies across the Earth, which has accelerated in the last three or four decades. The phenomenon of globalization has been credited and blamed for a number of developments during this time; in fact while these developments might be caused by globalization, others are symptoms of a small world, the ability of economic power to buy political power, or mere coincidence. Globalization has certainly been associated with individual economic insecurity as well as the failure of state political institutions, and that has created volatile politics all over the world (Langfitt 2016).

From a troglodyte's perspective the world began to globalize 3000-4000 years ago as trading developed across groups and, as navigation developed, across geographic regions. But that's not what we're talking about here. Technology has…

Can Cities Change Their Luck?

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In my last post, I noted that central cities have been enjoying a resurgence of late, keeping pace or exceeding the job creation of their surrounding suburbs. That week brought more good news for central cities: GE Digital announced it will add about 100 software jobs in the City of Providence, and fast food giant McDonald's will move its corporate headquarters to the City of Chicago from suburban Oakbrook in 2018.

Yet individual cities' experience of this resurgence has been uneven. From 2005, when some of the cultural shifts became identifiable, to 2015, U.S. Census Bureau estimates have the country's population as a whole growing by 8.4 percent. Some cities' populations increased by multiples of this during the same period, a clear sign of success; others stagnated or even shrank. In fact, the combined population of the 51 central cities from metropolitan areas of greater than 1 million population grew 8.2 percent, almost exactly the national average.

For the sake …

Two Tales of Cities

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I used to live in New York City Everything there was dark and dirty --“TWELVE THIRTY,” w/m by John Phillips
A persistent theme throughout my life has been where people were going to live since theyobviously weren’t going to live in cities.I grew up in a middle-class suburb during the Baby Boom, heir to the development pattern that began in the late 1940s, only 25 miles from the City of Chicago but yet light-years away at the same time. Many of my friends’ parents commuted to work in the central city, but soon large employers themselves—Bell Laboratories, Amoco—began moving out to the suburbs, creating “edge cities” and diminishing Chicago’s relevance as an employment center. Industries decamped en masse from the northern Rust Belt to the sunny and union-free South. At the same time, my high school teachers spoke of a coming virtual world where we could live anywhere we wanted to, such as Montana if we were outdoorsy, and remain in contact with our employers. Was the future in edge cities…