In the most recent City Journal, Joel Kotkin wrote an article discussing cities' alleged loss of children, and arguing that cities would be more successful in retaining children if only they could be more like low-density suburbs.
One common "story" about the evolution of American cities is that suburban poverty is growing because people are being driven out of high-priced cities into suburbs. One possible implication of this argument is that cities need to be kept poor and stagnant so that poor people can afford them.
Sprawl supporters occasionally argue that sprawl is less crime-ridden than walkable urbanism. But this argument seems to be contradicted by the reality of citywide crime rates: New York, our country's most transit-friendly city, is also one of its safest.
I just used Amazon.com to look inside a new book on suburban poverty ("Confronting Suburban Poverty In America" by Elizabeth Kneebone and Alan Berube).
I found the following admission: "[since 2000] poverty rates rose by equal degrees in cities and suburbs (roughly 3 percentage points) though the urban poverty rate remained almost twice as high as the suburban rate". (p. 35). So although the gap between cities and suburbs has narrowed slightly, cities are still more poverty-packed than suburbs.
One result of Detroit's recent bankruptcy has been the usual finger-pointing about the cause of that city's probems. Commonly mentioned culprits include deindustrialization, absence of federal support, and the sprawl-induced decline of urban tax bases. Another common argument (especially among conservatives) is that if only Detroit wasn't governed by liberals, Democrats, etc. it wouldn't have become so overextended.
As many people (including me) have written, minimum parking requirements encourage sprawl by requiring "islands of building surounded by seas of parking." Generally, municipalities trying to end or modify these rules have started with downtowns and worked their way outward.
A recent article discussed in the Atlantic blog suggests that suicide rates increase as density goes down, especially below 300 people per square kilometer (i.e. 777 people per square mile). The title of the article: "The Unsettling Link Between Sprawl and Suicide."
Last week, I blogged about the relationship between sprawl and poverty, using metro Atlanta as an example. I showed that in Fulton and DeKalb Counties (the two most urban, transit-friendly counties in the region) the obesity rate was only slightly higher than the poverty rate, while in more suburban counties the obesity rate was MUCH higher than the poverty rate.
If you've gone to conferences addressing the relationship between public health and sprawl, you may have heard of something called a "health impact assessment." If you are a little fuzzy on how this works out in practice, you may want to read a new article coauthored by Prof. Pamela Ko and the Dean of Touro Law Center, Patricia Salkin. (In the interests of full disclosure, I note that since I teach at Touro, Dean Salkin is my boss).
When I read Robert Caro's The Power Broker (a biography of New York road-builder Robert Moses), one story that didn't quite make sense is Caro's discussion of the Henry Hudson Bridge. Caro writes that Caro's routing of this bridge caused "the destruction of Manhattan's priceless last forest" in Inwood Hill Park. But I visited the park yesterday afternoon, and it didn't look at all "destroyed" to me. Inwood Hill Park is still one of the jewels of Manhattan's park system, full of primeval-looking forest.