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Assessments

We’ve tried several approaches, and all have their strengths and weaknesses. But one relic of the Progressive Era is on the way out.
As Prince of Wales, Charles had a lot to say about architecture and planning. But there are things that princes can do that monarchs might not be able to.
They have a long history, and they have been our "public living room." Some cities and towns that have lost their central gathering places are trying to re-create them.
It seems logical that we would be rushing to turn vacant office buildings into apartments and condos. So far it’s not happening on a large scale, but there are reasons to think it’s in our urban future.
The economy keeps adding them by the hundreds of thousands. But those big numbers don’t tell the whole story.
Without both, a new book argues, a community can’t achieve its highest purpose. Some cities and suburbs have managed to combine them. Most are finding it difficult.
In the end, we don’t know what kind of treatment might change the behavior of disturbed young people who believe society is out to get them.
Neighborhood change is unsettling. Whose fault is that? Maybe nobody’s.
Cities have been struggling with the question for decades. Some are welcoming the murals and other street painting they used to deplore. Others call it vandalism and are erasing it.
It takes entrepreneurial skill to win high office, but timing may be even more important.
States keep trying to rein in the offensive language people want to affix to their cars, but issues of free speech come up again and again. What are reasonable societal boundaries?
Levies for public transit can win at the polls when taxpayers perceive that a project benefits them. These days, properly designed bus rapid transit systems seem to have better chances than expensive light rail.
Advocates argue that cities and their connecting swaths of territory make an economic unit, despite the absence of real cultural affinities between distant metros.
The familiar grid has its detractors, but it also has strengths. Could an eccentric Spanish architect from the 1840s teach us how to do it right?
Small experiments for solving social problems may seem to work, but at least half of them fall apart when they’re expanded to a larger constituency. Costs are the main explanation, although not the only one.
A growing cadre of urban-design experts argues that there is a crucial connection between public health and the built environment. It’s a movement that has its roots in the 19th century.
We give subsidies to people who don’t need them, and order the poor to find money they don’t have when they get in trouble with the law.
His legacy has mostly slipped through the cracks, but his ideas provided a blueprint for re-creating the city as a center of modern social life, laying the groundwork for today’s New Urbanist movement.
Some legislatures have been banning reporters from their lawmaking chambers. But given how statehouse coverage has changed in recent decades, the reality is that we've simply traded one flawed system for another.
Turning storefronts into online-commerce fulfillment centers or pop-up spaces for artists isn't likely to bring downtowns back. But even remote workers need places to go when they take a break from their keyboards.
The job of a legislator is for most a time-consuming one with little chance to shape policy, and the pay isn't great. So why do so many of them run for re-election over and over?
They’ve been around a lot longer than you might think. They keep changing, but they still run on loyalty, as they always have.
From sports teams to high schools, we’re in turmoil about what we consider a deserving name. But we shouldn’t rewrite history as a byproduct of ignorance.
Too much of the space in our downtowns is taken up by parked cars, and requiring developers to provide so many parking slots inflates the cost of housing. It’s becoming clear that those mandates are irrational.
It’s gospel among economists that regulating rents is a bad idea. But there’s evidence that the burdens it imposes might be an acceptable price for society to pay.
We’ve tried taxing drinkers, smokers and soda-guzzlers. Sometimes it helps, improving the public’s health, even if it doesn’t produce a lot of revenue. But it still raises equity and moral issues.
Edward Glaeser got a lot of attention with his argument that cities succeed in a deregulated environment. His new book embraces a broader role for government.
It’s tempting for a mayor or a governor to swing for the fences, promising to solve every intractable societal problem. But leaders who go for what's realistically achievable are more likely to succeed.
Counties range in size from thousands of residents to millions, with varied levels of responsibility and efficiency. Some advocate shrinking the number of them, but that raises questions both practical and sentimental.
The pandemic has given frustrated solo commuters some relief, but history suggests that its effects may not last. Maybe Ebenezer Scrooge actually knew something.
Republican and Democratic states aren’t exactly sure what they are for, but they know what they’re against.
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