MLewyn's blog

Maybe Urban Schools Aren't So Bad

It is conventional wisdom that big cities have problems retaining the middle class because of poor schools.  But many older cities labor under a disadvantage that their suburbs don't have- lots of students from underprivileged background.

What Robert Moses Got Right (And Kansas City Got Wrong)

Robert Moses is most famous (or perhaps infamous) for paving over large chunks of New York City with highways.  But he also built and rehabilitated thousands of acres of parks and playgrounds; and in this area his contribution to the city was more unambiguously positive.   

The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy of Bad Transit

One common argument against public transit is that transit doesn't pay for itself.  A recent article in Citylab points out that the best transit systems (that is, high-ridership systems like New York's) actually lose less money per rider than the minimal transit systems that are more common in the U.S.  For example, New York's transit loses less than $1 per trip, while Dallas transit loses over $4 per trip.   

Conservative cities? Yes, in the UK

In the United States, central cities lean towards left-wing parties (even in affluent areas like the Upper West Side of New York) while suburbs and exurbs lean right.  But as we learned this week in the United Kingdom, this is not true everywhere.  London's urban core is the Cities of London and Westminister district, which gave the governing Conservatives 54 percent of their vote this week, and almost as much in 2010.

The Geography of NYC's Children: More Evidence of Urban Popularity

Conventional wisdom is that making urban cores stronger and more pedestrian-friendly is irrelevant to the interests of American parents, who supposedly want to live in suburbs or faux-suburbs at the edge of cities.

Riot Recap: Or, Even The Bad News Is Not So Bad

After the recent Baltimore riots, I saw numerous articles using them as proof that American cities really aren't on the mend after all, because there are still plenty of poverty-stricken, crime-ridden, riot-prone neighborhoods: all of which, of course, is certainly true.

But when you compare recent events with the race riots of the 1960s (or even those of the 1990s) a more complex picture emerges.

Too Much Open Space An Interesting Paper

Prof. Robert Ellickson of Yale Law School has an interesting paper up on the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) website.  He critciizes widespread popular support for open space, pointing out that too much open space reduces population density and thus accelerates sprawl and reduces housing supply. 

Why Buses Are Inferior

Critics of rail often argue that buses are superior; they are cheaper, more flexible and (sometimes) run almost as fast.  But in a recent blog post, Houston planning student Maggie Colson explains why trains are better than buses, even if the train isn't much faster:

Reading Le Corbusier in 2015

I just finished reading Concerning Town Planning, a short book of essays by Le Corbusier.  Before reading this, all I knew about him was a few key phrases: "Radiant City" and "towers in a park."  And Le Corbusier did indeed like high-rises surrounded by greenery. 

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.