When Coffee Came to London (Not a Starbuck’s story)

Around 1650, coffee came to London. The refreshing and slightly habit forming beverage was a big hit. A new kind of non-alcoholic public house — the coffee house — was quickly invented.

London was a walking city, only the wealthy and businesses had personal transportation. And the weather was famously chancey. So a smart entrepreneur came up with a way of scouting locations.

Continue Reading

Urbanism: Nothing to Fear

When the 9/11 attacks happened, all sorts of pundits started re-questioning whether cities should be decentralized, notably including Ed Glaeser. That questioning happened again after Hurricane Katrina and the continuing hurricanes along the Gulf Coast.

Continue Reading

Urbanists Soak Up Buffalo: PlaceMakers empty their notebooks

The 22nd annual gathering of the CNU wrapped up Saturday night, June 7, in Buffalo. We’re looking forward to the recordings at cnu.org over the next few weeks to fill the inevitable gaps, since the competing sessions and hallway conversations presented the usual embarrassment of riches.

Rather than go for a tidy narrative, let’s just share some random observations and sound bites from the four days.

Continue Reading

The Road to Prosperity: Real-Time Approaches to Economic Improvement

Guest-ShakerAcross America, too many people believe that “no one will get out of their cars.” The newest data based on the 2012 American Community Survey, shows “it ain’t so,” even for small cities and their surrounding areas. The national trend in the US is a drop of almost 1 percent per year in passenger vehicle-miles-traveled or VMT, driven by the high price of transportation generally and more specifically related to the need to drive, a function of the increased distance between people and what they do. People have been driving about 1% per year less for a while now.

Continue Reading

Industry, Infrastructure and Intermodalism—Still Mixed Up on Special Districts?

Guest-ShakerIn her September 2011 blog, Special Districts Getting All Mixed Up, Hazel Borys questioned why we treat large format areas with distinctive uses, such as manufacturing or aviation, as “special” to the point of exclusion from our efforts to integrate all urban land uses and activities into a spatially coherent whole, ending with an inspiring contemporary example of planned “strict integration” of land uses in the corridors and boulevards connecting the El Paso International Airport to the city.
Continue Reading

Urban Happiness Index, Expanded


Hazel Borys’ ideas on the Healthy Places Index yesterday brought to mind some of my own thoughts on the matter — thoughts in excess of what might reasonably be tolerated in the comments section. Thanks to PlaceMakers for providing me the opportunity to share them here.

On Saturday at a used bookstore, I picked up Robert Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy, written in 1620. Tudor Publishing in New York released the translation from Latin by Floyd Dell and Paul Jordan-Smith in 1927.

Continue Reading