Continuing to work my Midwestern Defensiveness beat at the Reader

Reviewing two new books from Belt Publishing: On the other hand, as Belt Publishing founder Anne Trubek lamented shortly after the election, writing about the midwest isn’t necessarily writing for midwesterners, much less by them. There’s something anthropological, even “colonial,” as Trubek puts it, in stories that purport to explain former steel towns and lakeside Continue reading Continuing to work my Midwestern Defensiveness beat at the Reader

O’Hare express: Bad. Damen Green Line: Good.

Two announcements from the Mayor today on Chicago transit. First, Emanuel is recommitting to the terrible, very bad O’Hare express train proposal that won’t save almost anybody any time and will probably cost the city a ton of money if it ever happens, while serving mostly as an abstract bragging right among rich business travelers. Continue reading O’Hare express: Bad. Damen Green Line: Good.

Rage

The changes have come so fast that it’s worth sitting for a minute on the fact that had someone in 2012 told the GOP that they would all be lining up behind this in 2016, it would have been considered outrageous slander. In the most generous interpretation, then, tens of millions of people have cynically Continue reading Rage

How bungalow-y is the Bungalow Belt?

Over at City Observatory, I’ve published a new piece about the ways that urban geometry—which is really just a fancy way of saying “the fact that single family homes take up more space than apartments”—affects the way that neighborhood identity is formed. And, in turn, how that visual bias in the way neighborhood identity is Continue reading How bungalow-y is the Bungalow Belt?

The creation of vacant land in Chicago neighborhoods

This is really just a “hm” post, combined with a request for information. One of the things that’s never totally be clear to me is how the substantial number of Chicago neighborhoods with large amounts of vacant land—land that was at some point built up, but had its structures demolished and not replaced—got that way. Continue reading The creation of vacant land in Chicago neighborhoods

The invention of public-hating, brownstoning urbanism

City Observatory just published my review of The Invention of Brownstone Brooklyn, one of the most thought-provoking books I read in all of 2016: At this point, brownstoning might have reevaluated what kind of movement it was. As this process pushed the frontier of “authenticity” (and affordability) further south, they might have realized that “modernity” was not Continue reading The invention of public-hating, brownstoning urbanism