Ideas. Cities. Social Innovation.

My latest post, on the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce embracing walkability and transit as necessary business infrastructure:

For older cities like Hamilton, this provides an opportunity, as they developed around a time when density was greater in new developments than it has been in recent decades, thus providing in most cases a greater stock of already (or easily convertable) walkable areas. It’s proximity to Toronto (it’s connected by GO Train) and other major centers can serve as an additional competitive asset. 

Provocative argument, but it makes good points:

Let’s begin with crack. It’s got immediate perks for sure. But there are the long-term consequences that render the short-term gains moot. This lesson of crack is also the lesson of big box economics, i.e., initial tax revenue hit succumbs to long-term cost of sprawl. But we got no rehab for cities, or any value-driven consensus to stop the self-destructing instant gratification for that matter.

Taking the above two narratives together, the United States is reduced to New York City and its impressive sphere of influence. Globalization for the United States is Greater Greater New York City. Both Philadelphia and DC benefit from their proximity to NYC. The rest of America is flyover country.

Definitely need to find a copy of this:

In these places where there’s all this death and decay, there are moments of birth and life and renewal: the reflection of light on a piece of glass, a flower growing. I wanted A to be everything and nothing.

By rail, I am including subways, commuter rail or light rail (tram, trolley and modern streetcar). I am not including BRT (bus rapid transit), because they use the same thoroughfares as traditional buses and automobiles. Even the sprawling cities of the south and west—like Dallas-Forth Worth, South Florida, Los Angeles, Charlotte and Salt Lake City—have learned that they cannot rely solely on streets and highways to efficiently operate a regional transportation network.

Sadly, too few Rust Belt cities are heeding this message. There is talk, but for the most part only talk, about adding some sort of rail service here and there, but it is hardly focused. Detroit is a perfect example of a large city that has vastly over-relied on streets and highways. Hence, it is largely sprawled out in a low-density spatial pattern that helps hinder its recovery. The hope for a 3.4-mile light rail line down Woodward Avenue recently faded as the design has now been altered to a BRT. While better than nothing, BRTs do not have the WOW factor of rail.

In other words, Rust Belt branders have their work cut out for them. One need only to examine the history of Cleveland’s branding campaigns to know this is the case. All in all, it has been a bit of a mess, with the coalescing of a Cleveland brand as about as defined as the centering of Cleveland’s own top booster Drew Carey, who himself has gone from Warsaw Tavern dude to one shimmy away from Dancing with the Stars. To that end, the success of any city brand campaign is dependent on how you go about it. That is: Are you trying to be a thing or are you being it? The distinction is important, as nobody likes a fake, especially when the “brand” of the Rust Belt is about being as real as possible

But Fairmount is so much more that its two famous sons. It is one of the best remaining examples I have found of a “traditional small town” in the Midwest.  Proud citizens, tidy homes and farms, a compact and reasonably healthy main street business district, and a sense of long-term strength and stability, even in these difficult economic times, combine to make Fairmount quite special. The fact that it has not been overrun by rampant sprawl is also endearing.

Don Carter on why Pittsburgh has the Sun Belt beat.

He makes a compelling argument for post-industrial cities, wealth-builders, and “the water belt”.

Detropia presents a preview of what America could look like if the divide worsens between “have” and “have-not” cities, where men of working age, as in the video above, spend their time combing industrial ruins for scrap metal. At times, watching the film is like watching the ultimate American nightmare. It can be hard to believe it’s a documentary.


Now, considering the general area of Cleveland and the surrounding counties appears to be crumbling, it begs to ask the question: is the inner core turnaround for real? And can it effectively echo out as kind of a donut hole in reverse that leads from a downtown revitalization to an inner city revival to a more general city proper rebirth?