The underwhelming, ineloquent, triumphant reign of Thomas Menino
Boston has historically been a fractious place, down to its marrow: white against black, Irish against WASP, Italian against Irish, Dorchester against Brighton, us against them, us against us if them weren’t around. A political culture rooted in an actual revolution and an actual tea party later produced characters like James Michael Curley, who, according to lore, threatened to use his authority as mayor to open the sewer mains under Brahmin banks if the bankers didn’t loan money to city projects. READ MORE >>
Across America, states are taking over cities and school boards. Does it make a difference?
You’re a local government. You have a mostly minority population in an impoverished post-industrial area. You’re in debt by the billions, but paying it off would require taxes that residents can't afford. But wait, you’re in luck! Or maybe you’re out of luck? Either way, get ready: You’re about to get taken over. READ MORE >>
What happens when Travis Kalanick has nothing left to fight?
On a sunny, freezing cold January at the main entrance to Washington, D.C.'s Union Station, with cabs jostling for position to drop passengers off, Travis Kalanick searched his pockets and black backpack for his iPhone—the same one that he, the CEO of sedan-hailing app Uber, had used to summon the black SUV that just dropped us off. Phone located, we forged past a scrum of people waiting for people to be paired with taxis. READ MORE >>
Why it's worth ranting against Rachel Shteir's Chicago essay
This past Sunday, the front page of the New York Times Book Review ran a caustic essay by DePaul University professor Rachel Shteir about "poor Chicago." Disguising it as a review of three new volumes about the city's past, Shteir wrote a blistering epitaph for its present and future. She complains about the murder rate, rightly, but also about the weather, a certain baseball team, the cost of parking, and even the sales tax. READ MORE >>
Why empty streets are just as scary as fallen bodies
First came the smoky streets, then the deserted ones. So much about the past few days has felt like a particularly twisted action movie—fire, explosions, injured and discombobulated people running helter-skelter—but certain images coming from Boston and its suburbs in the past 24 hours have seemed more like stills from a post-apocalyptic film than anything else—the kind where emptiness is eerie, and anything but peaceful. READ MORE >>
The rise of the white, middle-class anti-gentrifiers
Over the past decade or so, an influx of young professionals has transformed the character of faltering urban neighborhoods like Brooklyn’s Williamsburg and Bushwick and working-class preserves in Chicago and Atlanta. READ MORE >>
Trump's luxury hotel downtown is a good deal for the city, but why stop there?
On Wednesday morning, in a ground-floor auditorium at the headquarters of the Washington Post, Donald Trump and daughter Ivanka–who last year won the right to redevelop the iconic Old Post Office as a 250-room luxury hotel–had their formal introduction to polite D.C. READ MORE >>
The trouble with urbanizing Beltway sprawl
It’s been a rough week for the much-touted urbanization of the Washington DC suburbs. As much as any place in the country, they have emerged as a major test of whether municipalities can redeem the planning and development sins of the second half of the 20th century. READ MORE >>
Why do we keep anointing "it" cities?
It starts with the local brewpub. Always with the goddamn local brewpub, located in some renovated craftsman schoolhouse or 1920s fire station with the locally sourced Czechoslovakian-style hops and the brewmaster with the certification from the Golden Barley Council or whatever governing body oversees alcoholic hipsterdom. READ MORE >>
A phenomenon that revived cities can also make them monotonous
A funny thing happened in the half century since Jane Jacobs published her classic treatise excoriating the planning establishment for clear-cutting American cities and replacing eclectic neighborhoods with sterile housing towers: Her vision of urban change won the day. READ MORE >>