MLewyn's blog

Downtowns are Booming (Sometimes)

The University of Virginia just created a set of tables based on recent Census data.  These tables measure the affluence, age, etc.

Rich Foreigners Like Suburbs, Too

One common argument against new construction (especially high-rise construction) in cities is that rich foreigners will soak up any new housing supply.  This argument is of course based on the assumption that urban high-rises, and only urban high-rises, are irresistible to rich foreigners.  But an article in

Don't Blame the Koch Brothers (for Low Gas Taxes)

After a variety of conservative groups (including some funded by the Koch brothers) sent a letter to Congress opposing gas tax increases, the liberal and urbanist blogospheres were chock full of stories like this one, complaining that Congress can't reach a transportation deal because (in the words of grist.org)  "of the right-wing and Koch network’s coor

More Evidence that Urbanists Should Support School Choice

A recent article , "School Choice Programs: The Impacts on Housing Values" reviews literature relating to the impact of charter schools and various types of school choice programs on housing values.

Do Tall Buildings Attact Foreigners?

I was discussing Washington, D.C.'s height limits with some acquaintances on Twitter; one of them suggested that allowing taller buildings might turn Washington into a "global city", which in turn would cause foreigners to surge into Washington and drive up real estate prices (as has arguably been the case in parts of Vancouver and New York).

This argument seems to be to be based on two assumptions that are at best unprovable:

From The Department of Worst Practices: Two-lane stroads

One phrase that has become common in transportation planning circles is "stroad"- a street that is oriented towards cars (like a major road) but is full of intersections (like a traditional, more pedestrian-oriented street) and thus doesn't function well as either a street or a road.  When I think of a stroad, I think of six-to-eight lane streets like San Jose Boulevard in Jacksonville, or Queens Boulevard in Queens.

Best Practices In Publicizing Data : Pittsburgh Shows How

It is fairly common for city planning departments to publish demographic data about city neighborhoods - usually containing basic demographic information such as age, income and poverty.  But Pittsburgh's planning department has created an unusually impressive set of data tables.  It has created a set of six online spreadsheets (available at

Best Practices In Publicizing Data : Pittsburgh Shows How

It is fairly common for city planning departments to publish demographic data about city neighborhoods - usually containing basic demographic information such as age, income and poverty.  But Pittsburgh's planning department has created an unusually impressive set of data tables.  It has created a set of six online spreadsheets (available at

Seniors And Walkable Neighborhoods

I occasionally read that seniors are likely to be a strong constituency for walkable, public-transit oriented neighborhoods.  This argument runs as follows: seniors gradually lose the ability to drive as they get older.  Thus, they are eventually going to need more transit and more walkable neighborhoods, and designers of walkable neighborhoods should be especially focused on the needs of seniors. 

Learning from London's Comeback

A recent post on Citymetric.com suggests that after losing population for decades, London will soon reach its pre-World War II peak of 8.6 million people.  London last achieved this population level in 1939, and lost nearly two million people after World War II, bottoming out at 6.7 million in 1988.  Can we learn anything from this?  Why, yes we can.  To name a few things: