Archive for July, 2008

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Thu Jul 31st 2008 at 8:02pm UTC

Wal-Mart Across America

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

Here’s a terrific interactive map of Wal-Mart locations since 1962 (h/t: Kevin Stolarick).

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Thu Jul 31st 2008 at 1:46pm UTC

Take Me to a Happy Place

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

Check out this new study by Veolia Observatory of Urban Lifestyles. It’s based on a survey of 8,500 people in 14 global cities. Overall, eight in 10 big-city residents are happy with their cities and three-quarters would stay where they live. Cities are viewed as efficient and great places to meet people, but also as stressful and anonymous. There’s also a short story in USA Today. Some top-line findings.

Because of its density and activity, the city is first and foremost seen as a place where you can meet people. More than two thirds of city dwellers see the city as making meeting people easier … In any event, all cities and all population groups combined, city dwellers lament the poor quality of contact. This superficiality that contrasts with the human density brings out feelings of psychological anxiety and isolation.There is also an underlying fear of total anonymity, translated by the idea that the city is stronger than its inhabitants …

For 66% of city dwellers, living in the city is above all a lifestyle choice. It is a way of being, a distinctive characteristic that people see as reflecting positively on them …

First, the future generations’ city will have to be safer (35%). people would like the city to be less polluted (24%), with better public transportation (21%) and less stress (20%). The desire for a city with more open spaces comes next.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Wed Jul 30th 2008 at 3:42pm UTC

Walkability Benefits

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

A University of Utah study finds that walkable neighborhoods are good for your health (h/t: Jason Rentfrow).

“The study, to be published in the September issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, linked the body mass index (BMI) of nearly a half million Salt Lake County residents to 2000 Census data. The study found that residents were at less risk of being obese or overweight if they lived in walkable neighborhoods-those that are more densely populated, designed to be more friendly to pedestrians and have a range of destinations for pedestrians … The study found that neighborhoods built before 1950 tended to offer greater overall walkability as they more often were designed with the pedestrian in mind, while newer neighborhoods often were designed to facilitate car travel … Using height and weight data collected by the Driver License Division of the Utah Department of Public Safety, Smith and colleagues calculated the BMI of 453,927 Salt Lake County residents age 25 to 64, linking it to census-block groups via geographical coordinates.”

Aleem Kanji
by Aleem Kanji
Wed Jul 30th 2008 at 3:11pm UTC

Old = Gold

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

As the famous saying goes, “Old equals Gold” and older cities are proving how valuable they are in terms of recent population growth.

Fresh new census data out shows that older cities hold on to more people. This chart from the Brookings Institute shows how the annual population in big cities such as Chicago, LA, and San Diego have rebounded in recent years and how these cities have moved from having population slow-down to new-found growth.

Could this be good news for older cities that are hoping to reverse population declines of the past? Will these trends continue, given the housing market slowdown and increased commuting costs from the suburbs, expected to climb even higher?

What do you think?

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Wed Jul 30th 2008 at 2:03pm UTC

Glaeser on Cities

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

The Wall Street Journal interviewed Harvard urban economist Ed Glaeser on Saturday, as part of a special section on regional economic development.

One of the great ironies is that the impact of the flattening world has not been to empower decentralized rural land, but to strengthen the cities in China and India and elsewhere that are gateways between those countries and the West. It’s deeply wise for the Chinese to be pro-urban in terms of development. They’re creating space for ideas and human capital to be developed.

Great going El Paso, one of our very first CCLP communities, which made the Journal’s seven success stories.

Rana Florida
by Rana Florida
Tue Jul 29th 2008 at 7:03pm UTC

Dark Conversations…

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

Tune in tonight to Coast to Coast AM for a three-hour radio interview with Richard Florida. Phone in with your questions about Who’s Your City? or the creative class, cities, the future, or anything else that stirs your late-night thoughts. 2 am – 5 am EST, 11 pm -2 am PST.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Tue Jul 29th 2008 at 5:22pm UTC

Who’s Your Recycler?

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

This graphic from the NY Times shows recycling rates for various U.S. cities. West Coast and especially high creative class cities do well. Does anyone have comparable data for Toronto? My hunch is that it would stack up very well.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Fri Jul 25th 2008 at 10:29am UTC

Ministry of Urban Development

Friday, July 25th, 2008

Writing in the New York Times, Columbia University sociologist, Sudhir Venkatesh argues that it is time to shutter the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and replace it with a new Department of Urban Development.

How could a program aimed at curbing inequality and helping the poor
end up creating new pockets of poverty? The answer lies partly in HUD’s
myopic focus on gentrifying urban cores. … In correcting HUD’s missteps, we must first separate “housing policy” from “urban development.” Today, housing policy is dictated by
private markets, so why not give the Commerce and Treasury Departments
oversight of a single authority that administers Federal Housing
Administration financing — needed to keep homes affordable for the
majority of Americans — and all of HUD’s other housing programs?

Then, the development needs of our nation’s regions — wide areas
like the Northeast corridor or Southern California — could be
considered anew. … Regionalism must be embraced,
even if it tests local officials who fear losing their traditional
sources of government financing.

Promoting coherent regional development will also entail linking
urban policy concerns like community development and social services
with work like rehabbing roads and building railways … Americans live too
spread out, and economic activity is no longer limited to downtowns.
Community-based initiatives — from vocational programs to rezoning
efforts to designing effective transportation corridors and
recreational space — are sorely needed but will be effective only if
they tie into a broader vision that anticipates growth on a large

He’s absolutely right.

UPDATE: Arnold Kling says not so fast:

Venkatesh then proceeds, rather naively in my view, to call for
replacing the Department of Housing and Urban Development with a better
department. First of all, failure only leads to exit in markets, not in
government. Second, who is to say that the next generation of programs
will not also be captured by special interests?

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Fri Jul 25th 2008 at 10:07am UTC

Mapping Emotion

Friday, July 25th, 2008


The map here is from a project by Christian Nold, a London-based artist, using technology to measure levels of stimulation.  Here’s a project summary.

Bio Mapping is a community mapping project in which over the last four years
with more than 1500 people have taken part in. In the context of regular, local
workshops and consultations, participants are wired up with an innovative
device which records the wearer’s Galvanic Skin Response (GSR), which is a
simple indicator of the emotional arousal in conjunction with their geographical
location. People re-explore their local area by walking the neighbourhood with
the device and on their return a map is created which visualises points of high
and low arousal. By interpreting and annotating this data, communal emotion maps
are constructed that are packed full of personal observations which show the
areas that people feel strongly about and truly visualise the social space of a

Data are here. (via Mind Hacks, Corante)

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Fri Jul 25th 2008 at 9:15am UTC

Happy Jobs, American-style

Friday, July 25th, 2008

I guess I picked a good occupation, or should I say occupations. Educators and authors are two of the 10 happiest occupations, according to this 2007 University of Chicago study (h/t: Charlotta Mellander). Clergy top the list, however. Psychologists are happy, as are artists, sculptors, office supervisors, and operating engineers. More here.