Category Archives: urban

Don’t Dismiss the Early Signs of a Turnaround in Detroit

City Lab talks about the signs of a turnaround in Detroit.

Don't Dismiss the Early Signs of a Turnaround in Detroit

Michigan State political scientist Laura Reese and Wayne State urban affairs expert Gary Sands have written an essay “Detroit’s recovery: The glass is half-full at best,” for Conversation, which was reprinted at CityLab as “Is Detroit Really Making a Comeback?” The article is based on a longer academic treatment of this subject by Reese, Sanders and co-authors, entitled “It’s safe to come, we’ve got lattes,” in the journal Cities.  (This is one of those rare cases where the mass media version of an article is more measured and less snarky than the title of the companion academic piece, but I digress.)

Reese and Sands set about the apparently obligatory task of offering a contrarian view to stories in the popular press suggesting that Detroit has somehow turned the corner on its economic troubles and is starting to come back. We, too, are wary of glib claims that everything is fine in Detroit. It isn’t. The city still bears the deep scars of decades of industrial decline coupled with dramatic failure of urban governance. The nascent rebound is evident only in a few places.

There’s a kind of straw man argument here. Is Detroit “back?” As best I can tell, no one’s making that argument. The likelihood that the city will restore the industrial heyday of the U.S. auto industry, replete with a profitable oligopoly and powerful unions that negotiate high wages for modestly skilled work, just isn’t in the cards. As Ed Glaeser has pointed out, it’s rare that cities reinvent their economies. But when they do—as in the cases of Boston and New York—it’s because they’ve managed to do an extraordinary job of educating their local populations, and that base of talent has served as the critical resource for generating new economic activity. Detroit is still far from that point.

And there’s no one who should think a renaissance will happen quickly, if it happens at all. History is littered with examples of once flourishing cities that failed for centuries to find a second act: Athens was long deserted, Venice had its empire and economy collapse, Bruges had its harbor silt-up. In each case, these cities’ early economies lived hard, died young and left a beautiful (architectural) corpse. It’s really only been in the 20th century that each of these cities revived to any degree after their historical decline.

L.A.’s mayor wants to lower the city’s temperature.

Urban design to help fight warming

If you think the city is too hot, you’ve got company at City Hall. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti agrees, and he wants to do something about it.

As part of a sweeping plan to help L.A. live within its environmental means, Garcetti has pledged to reduce the average temperature in the metropolis by 3 degrees over the next 20 years.

It’s a noble goal. Not only will it make you more comfortable, it will reduce energy consumption and improve air quality. It may even save lives — extreme heat kills more people each year than hurricanes, floods or tornadoes.

But how do you turn down the thermostat of an entire city in a warming world? And in a place as vast, sprawling and heterogeneous as Los Angeles, how do you measure success?

I read years ago an interview with Bill Clinton on these sorts of things.  He was talking warming but the same thing could be done to help Saskatoon or any city deal with temperature issues. 

Most young Vancouver residents would rather leave than live elsewhere in BC

But 87 per cent of those surveyed would stay in the region if money wasn’t an issue

For Vancouver-area residents under 35, the only place in British Columbia in which they want to live is the Lower Mainland, and most would rather move to another province than live in another part of BC.

According to survey conducted by Insights West for real estate adviser firm Resonance Consultancy, 87 per cent of those asked where they would choose to live if money were no object would choose to stay in the region. Moving outside of British Columbia came in a distant second at 14 per cent, followed by 11 per cent who said they would like to move to the Kelowna and Thompson Okanagan region.

For young residents across the province, 68 per cent said they would choose to live in Greater Vancouver, and 18 per cent said their top choice was in Victoria and other parts of southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. This was followed by Kelowna and Thompson Okanagan at 15 per cent.

Seventy per cent of those surveyed across B.C. said they are likely to move in the next five years, with 76 per cent saying they will be moving within their current regions. As well, 19 per cent say they will likely move to Greater Vancouver, and 38 per cent say they plan to leave the province.

“There is a tremendous challenge ahead for policy-makers and politicians to make Greater Vancouver affordable and welcoming for Millennials who clearly want to live and work in the region,” said Chris Fair, president of Resonance Consultancy, for which Insights West conducted the study.

Interesting study but it would interested to see it compared to other Canadian cities like Regina where I am sure 98% would prefer to live somewhere else.  On a more serious note, it goes to show how high rent has gotten for many cities and it’s impact on being livable.  If you can’t afford to enjoy the city, all of the amenities in the world won’t make you want to work there.

Urban Photographer: Pamela Julian

This video was done by a competing camera store but I love it and the work that Pamela Julian is doing.  It is one of the best things that I have seen all week and a must see for you urbanists that read this blog.

Of course while watching this video, I realized that Saskatoon’s downtown is laid out on a north / south axis which means it is hard to capture the sunsets that I have captured while travelling in other cities.

The happy city experiment | Charles Montgomery

Charles Montgomery explores what happens when you take an abandon city space in NYC and populate it with urban social experiments. The outcomes are unexpected as city dwellers explore this public space, interact with each other, and change their attitudes towards social connections, values, and each other.

Charles Montgomery explores what happens when you take an abandoned NYC space and infuse it with social experiments. The results are surprising and inspiring.

Amanda Burden: How public spaces make cities work

More than 8 million people are crowded together to live in New York City. What makes it possible? In part, it’s the city’s great public spaces — from tiny pocket parks to long waterfront promenades — where people can stroll and play. Amanda Burden helped plan some of the city’s newest public spaces, drawing on her experience as, surprisingly, an animal behaviorist. She shares the unexpected challenges of planning parks people love — and why it’s important.