MLewyn's blog

Conservatives, Liberals and Urbanists

After reading all manner of political posts on Facebook and various listservs, it occurs to me that conservatives and liberals are more alike than they think. Both groups are driven in part by an emotional fear of concentrated power - sometimes sensible, sometimes not.  Conservatives fear being oppressed or cheated by overwhelming, distant political power- for example, the federal government or the United Nations. Liberals and environmentalists fear concentrated corporate power- for example, Wal-Mart.  

Children Have More Freedom In The City

Two phrases you might hear from parents who live in sprawl:

1.  "We moved so our kids could play on the lawn."

2.  "We can't let the kids go outside because there are molesters/crazy drivers everywhere."

I don't see how both these propositions can be true.  If you can't let your children play on the lawn, what's the point in having one?  And as a practical matter, I think #1 is outdated because (in my limited experience with nieces) the children would really rather be inside playing video games anyhow.

Getting Multifamily Right in Forest Hills Gardens

I was walking through Forest Hills Gardens today, and noticed yet another way in which Forest Hills Gardens is superior to a typical steetcar suburb.  In most neighborhoods that have a variety of housing types, smaller residences are quite visibly different from bigger ones, thus maing the smaller houses look out of place.

a nice middle ground

I was reading a book ("A Modern Arcadia" by Susan Klaus) about Forest Hills Gardens (a neighborhood in Queens a few blocks south of my current apartment in northern Forest Hills, designed in the 1910s by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr) and noticed one thing I'd never noticed before: that it creates an interesting middle ground between the curvilinear streets typical of even 1920s suburbs and the urban grid.  North-south streets such as Ascan and Continental Avenues create the bones of a grid, whi

Good news and bad news about Carmel

The most recent "Better! Cities and Towns" has a glowing profile of Carmel, Indiana, an Indianapolis suburb that has rebuilt its downtown.

CNU CITY SPOTLIGHT: Pedestrian Plaza in Jackson Heights, Queens


This post is part of a new series on the CNU Salons, CITY SPOTLIGHT. City Spotlight shines a light on the latest news, developments and initiatives occurring in cities and towns where CNU members live and work.

Who Should Really Favor "Burning Down The Suburbs"?

National Review's website contains an article accusing President Obama of "Burning Down the Suburbs."  The article's basic claim is in the first paragraph: "Obama is a longtime supporter of “regionalism,” the idea that the suburbs should be folded into the cities, merging schools, housing, transportation, and above all taxation."'

Ryan: Not Great News From A Transportation Perspective, But....

The Transport Politic blog has a post on Paul Ryan's anti-transit voting record, and concludes that "we should be clear about what direction the United States may head after November’s election." I disagree, for two reasons.

The results of de-gentrification

When a city recovers from the urban decline of the late 20th century, there is often a lot of media blather about the evils of gentrification.  According to gentriphobes, working-class (mostly black) people lived together in peace and harmony before the onslaught of (mostly white) hipsters and yuppies drove up rents.

Having it both ways, another example

When listening to transit critics, I sometimes see the following arguments:

1. density doesn't increase transit ridership 

2.  My city/suburb just isn't dense enough for better transit.

I don't see how both arguments can be true.