MLewyn's blog

Always Room For More

One common argument against infill: "but there isn't room for any more people!"  (or, alternatively, "we can't have more people without turning into a skyscraper monoculture!"

Manhattan is far from a skyscraper monoculture- even in midtown there are lots of 2-6 story buildings of all types.  And yet our housing density is 70,000 people per square mile- more than four times that of San Francisco, more than seven times that of Washington.

In other words, at Manhattan densities San Francisco could accommodate more than 3 million people. 

Religion and urbanism

(Cross-posted, with some additions, from my personal blog). 


Presidential heroes of urbanism

Since the weekend that just ended was Presidents' weekend, I thought now would be a good time to acknowledge some especially pro-urban Presidents.  I don't plan to focus on their actual policies (a complicated topic, and one not very relevant to most pre-New Deal presidencies) but on their post-White House personal lives.  The majority of Presidents have retired to resorts, estate-home suburbia, or (in the 18th and 19th century) country plantations.  

However, I would like to honor a few exceptions to this rule:

Steps vs. The Elderly

I am currently reading White Flight/Black Flight by Rachael Woldoff of West Virginia University.  The book discusses a neighborhood at the edge of a northern city (Philadelphia, I suspect) which was overwhelmingly Jewish as late as 1990, and became black in the 1990s.  One area of interest to new urbanists is its discussion of white "stayers" - elderly people who are not at all displeased with integration.  What drives them out is not crime or social disorder, but steps.

Some Cities Have More Children Than Their Suburbs

Today, I read a blog post by Joel Kotkin asserting, for the umpteeth time, that famlies with children prefer suburbs.  But at the bottom of the post is a chart comparing the child population (as a percentage of total population) for dozens of cities and their suburbs.

Looking at another Republican Governor's Transit Record

A few weeks ago I posted an entry on transit ridership under several Republican governors who might be running for President; since most governors are judged based on one or two high-profile decisions (e.g.

Review of Emily Talen's book online

My review of Emily Talen's book City Rules is now online.   To briefly summarize the book: in addition to explaining how land use and street design regulations promote sprawl, Talen shows how those regulations have become stricter over time.  In addition to addressing oft-discussed issues like single-use zoning, Talen discusses issues like curb radii (the measurement of the edge of a block).


While walking around I occasionally see the "Coexist" bumper sticker, showing the symbols of various religions in order to suggest that it would be nice if they all coexisted peacefully.

Urbanism and the Oscars

I just finished watching all nine Best Picture nominees, and thought I would discuss what the front-runners should be from an urbanist perspective.  Which films occur in an urban or walkable environment?  Which films present such environments favorably (or at least not unfavorably)?

Mini-Book Review: Regional Planning can be Pro-Sprawl Too

I have written about how local comprehensive plans sometimes favor sprawl over urbanism.  But a recent book by planning scholar Carlton Basmajian, Atlanta Unbound, shows that regional planning can suffer from similar defects.