I was reading a conversation on the PRO-URB listserv about whether to oppose an intown Wal-Mart in Washington, and someone asserted that Wal-Mart was different from all other stores because it was a potential monopolist. Evidently, some people believe that Wal-Mart (unlike Costco or Target) is so good at its work that it destroys all other retail.
Every year, the Census comes out with estimates of county population. Because the 2011-12 estimates showed big gains for most urban counties, urbanists were happy to declare victory, and to claim that these estimates showed a movement of population back to cities. In other years, Census estimates showed that older cities were declining, and defenders of the sprawl status quo similarly crowed about those statistics.
In Forbes online, Joel Kotkin came out with a ringing attack on those who dare to challenge sprawl, asking "How Can We Be So Dense"? I thought this was worth responding to, and so here are a few of his points (with my responses).
I. Social mobility and sprawl
Kotkin: "More recently density advocates span a much-discussed study of geographic variations in upward mobility as sugg
Yesterday, I posted about the relationship between millenials and cities, showing that in some cities, population growth is indeed due to growth in the millenial (20-34) population, while in others, millenials are leaving the city just like everyone else. But of course, citywide data is often a bit misleading, because most cities have some very suburban neighborhoods.
It is becoming almost a cliche that millenials (that is, people in their 20s) are flocking to cities. But does data bear this out?
I looked at Census data on two cities that had lost population throughout the late 20th century but gained people in the 2000s: Philadelphia and Washington, DC. (Why them? Because I didn't think population-gaining cities were as interesting, since people of all age groups are moving to those places).
Yesterday's New York Times contained an article about the latest attempt to reform Atlanta's public schools: an eleven-story high school costing about four times as much as the average Southern high school. The city plans to move North Atlanta High, one of the city's more racially diverse high schools, from its existing site in quasi-suburban Buckhead to a larger building at the edge of town.
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.