Who's Your City?, by Richard Florida
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Archive for the ‘Chicago’ Category

Integration with a Global City

Friday, March 19th, 2010

map_cta_trainMy beat is Chicago and the city just across the city line to the north, Evanston. I live in Chicago, and in the course of the past 15 years have done two separate stints working up in Evanston. I’ve been amazed at the degree of economic and lifestyle integration that is achieved by dint of Evanston’s high degree of mass transit connection to Chicago. A special express train (the Purple Line) runs during the morning and afternoon rush, so that the centers of Evanston are within minutes of the Chicago Loop. Evanston also has all-day fast connectivity via the METRA commuter rail.

I have had occasion in the past to marvel at how Japan uses complementary rail systems to achieve a massive degree of connectivity across the entire Kanto region (Osaka < – > Tokyo). The Chicago-Evanston connection is an example to me of a single link that demonstrates that we can do it here, too!

I wonder what it would take to extend this lesson across the entire regional rail system in the Chicago region!!

Sent by Joe from Chicago and Evanston, IL

Living in Chicago

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

I moved here 6 years ago and bought a condo four years ago. I live in Oak Park, right across the street from Chicago proper. The weather here sucks 4 to 6 months out of the year, the public transportation that people rave about is dirty, old, and the majority of people who ride the train are not professionals. It’s expensive and property values just tanked. Racial integration here is a joke compared to Los Angeles (where I lived for 17 years before moving…I’m white). I grew up in WI and thought I wanted to be closer to my family. I need to move. Just an fyi to those considering a move to Chicago. The people are nice though.

Sent by Shirley from Chicago


Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

Chicago is a FANTASTIC place to live, been here all my life. The Lake Michigan, shopping, museums, bike paths, lush green forests, good transportation options, restaurants and bars! The suburbs are fantastic in their own rights, always something to do. The weather is hot, humid, sticky in the summer usually late June – early Sept. Fall is comfortable with a crisp wind. Winters are mild from Nov-Dec with little/ no snow fall. Extremley cold from Jan-March. The weather is always unpredictable.

Sent by s. from Chicago

Who’s Your Chi-Pitts?

Saturday, March 15th, 2008

Here’s an excerpt of an interview where I discuss some of my favorite Midwest cities – from Dayton to Pittsburgh by Tracy Certo of Pop City and Soapbox:

Help me better understand the connection between living in a powerful mega-region like Chi-Pitts but in a city in that region that’s in transition.

Chicago’s growth really sucked up all of the services and headquarters functions and lawyering and financial and accountancy that used to be done in the Detroits, the Pittsburghs, the Cincinnatis, the Akrons, the Toledos. Chicago has become in a way the business and financial center for the Chi-Pitts regions, and it’s become extraordinarily expensive.

So, one can make quite a nice life in a Cincinnati if they find ways to connect to that Chi-Pitts mega region. The places in the mega region that are really at an advantage are places like Ann Arbor. So, the college towns in that mega region have a particular advantage.

How can a city in this mega-region, like Cincinnati, Detroit or Pittsburgh, better compete in the global economy? Is it a matter of amenities or mindset or both?

First of all, I think they all have this great advantage, in a nearly 2 trillion dollar mega region which is one of the most innovative on the planet. They’re also close to the second largest mega-region on the planet, the number one in North America which is the Bos-Wash (Boston-Washington). The question is how do they want to compete?

I was just in Cincinnati and in Dayton, another city I love. They’re historical centers of innovation, every one from steel innovation to aluminum innovation, to electronics, to the Wright Brothers, to the car. This is one of the greatest innovative and entrepreneurial centers in the world. They have probably one of the greatest clusters of universities, in the history of the planet. They’re producing phenomenal talent, but unfortunately, that talent leaves. So, in Rise of the Creative Class, I said the one thing that it needs to become is more open minded and tolerant. It needs to be more diverse and inclusive.

Some of that’s happening in certain parts of the region. More foreign people are moving in, though not enough, in the Cincinnatis and Pittsburghs. They’re becoming more open minded to the gay and lesbian population, though by no means, not enough. I don’t think it’s a question of making jazzier restaurants or hipper bike trails. I think it’s a question of being more open-minded.

Another thing the region suffers from is really poor leadership. And I think the reason that is, it really bears the imprint that as the economy is changing to newer things, away from manufacturing, the leadership still reflects that top-down, vertical, 1950s organization mentality so you get these conflicts between old-style democratic political machine and business-led organizations. Those conflicts become very dysfunctional. I think one of the other things is that if older cities could achieve better leadership, leadership that was more in tune with the future.

We were working with 30 community catalysts in greater Dayton a couple weeks ago and I was blown away by what’s happened in downtown Dayton. It’s a more interesting and exciting place, filled with arts and restaurants and renovated houses and buildings. But too how these thirty catalysts, black, white, young, old, Hispanic, Latino, how much they cared about making their city better. And I think that’s the kind of thing you see in parts of Ohio and Illinois, there’s this incredible sense that people care, and I think unleashing that energy in people is really key.

The rest is here.

Chicago Skyline at Night

Saturday, March 1st, 2008