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

A single wacko month explains half of the last eight years of bus ridership declines

It’s a problem: CTA bus ridership is down—close to 20 percent between 2008 and 2016, even as rail ridership has increased by roughly the same amount. I’ve written about this issue before, both in the context of the serious service cuts CTA buses (and others) have suffered over this time period, and more recently about Continue reading A single wacko month explains half of the last eight years of bus ridership declines

Chicago and Trump’s sanctuary city threat

At CTBA’s blog, I’ve written a post about how much Chicago ought to fear Trump’s threat to take away federal funding from “sanctuary cities” that don’t cooperate with federal agencies to enforce immigration laws. The answer: it all depends on the courts. Two legal standards—one on “germaneness” and another that legal scholars appear to just Continue reading Chicago and Trump’s sanctuary city threat

What does aldermanic “menu money” pay for?

In Chicago, part of the deal with being an alderman (we have 50) in a city where nearly all policy decisions go through the mayor’s office is that you get $1.3 million per year to spend on any infrastructure projects you want. I forget who said this, but it’s basically “walking around money” for elected officials Continue reading What does aldermanic “menu money” pay for?

The invention of gentrification: Ten notes

I just picked up (ordered to my Kindle) The Invention of Brownstone Brooklyn, an American urban history classic that’s been on my list for years. It explores how, and why, between roughly World War II and 1980 northern Brooklyn transitioned from a prime candidate for slum clearance and urban renewal to the treasured capital of New Continue reading The invention of gentrification: Ten notes

Why is CTA ridership down? A new theory

Previously on the blog, I’ve written about the short-term decline in bus ridership (couched in medium-term stagnation and long-term catastrophic decline) in the context of drastically reduced service, a theme I also picked up at City Observatory. But, as Chicago finally reaches the long-anticipated Great Inversion of Transit Ridership—that is, in July 2016, L ridership Continue reading Why is CTA ridership down? A new theory

Chicago’s newly Democratic suburbs

Something a little different, a month before the election. But not too different! Though I haven’t written about it much, my interest in neighborhood and regional demographic changes extends to the political effects of those shifts. At some point, I’d really love to look at those changes within Chicago, for example in how competitive progressive Continue reading Chicago’s newly Democratic suburbs