It’s been a topic for decades. Some blame cars. Some blame uninviting public spaces. Maybe there are some small things communities could do that would help.
North Carolina, where cities large and small are creating open-container “social districts,” is about to find out.
The governor’s ambitious plan bets heavily on competition, through vouchers and school choice, but there’s no reliable evidence that competition can make a real difference.
Allowing greater building height hasn’t proved consistently successful for cities, and it's a fantasy that Washington's city center could ever resemble Paris’ stately boulevards. But perhaps it’s time to try some experimentation.
It took a long time for the state’s unique system of governance to fall into the hyperpartisanship that so many states have experienced. Can Nebraska find a way back?
A state can try to compel its cities to build more, but the results are at best modest. As Gov. Jared Polis learned, even getting zoning reforms enacted can be an insurmountable challenge.
There are lots of ideas out there for bringing the numbers down. But so far nothing seems to work better than simply getting a roof over their heads, even if it’s only a dilapidated motel room.
Pledging greater efficiency, lots of governors (and candidates for the job) want to reorganize their states’ administrative structures. Sometimes they pull it off, but usually the reforms don’t last.
Some center cities are coming back from the pandemic, with residential populations increasing even as many continue to work from home. While restaurants and retail are still suffering, it seems fair to speculate that something meaningful is happening.
It’s doubtful that taxing art collections, yachts or big inheritances will attract a significant political constituency. It’s all about the “endowment effect,” the value we place on the things we possess.
It’s easy to run against the downtown establishment, but neighborhood revival is a difficult process. Only a few mayors have been able to achieve success as both downtown promoters and neighborhood advocates.
People love to be close to a lake, a river or an ocean, and waterfronts can be a major urban achievement. Why have so many cities done a poor job of cultivating this amenity?
You can make the case that it is, and not just in size. Every city is distinctive in some way, but nothing comes close to New York in the breadth and depth of its demographics, neighborhoods and culture.
A term that once referred only to housing now encompasses everything from politics to economic life to the disappearance of community. But the center is still out there somewhere.
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.