How East Coast Tech Startups Became a Downtown Phenomenon

By Richard Florida
Published: August 14, 2013

The East Coast has long lagged behind Silicon Valley and the Bay Area as a center for startups and venture capital investment.

The Route 128 corridor outside Boston remained a distant second to the Bay Area in the 70s and 80s because its stodgy, hierarchical culture was less able to adapt to new technology, University of California at Berkley’s AnnaLee Saxenian has argued. Further south, New York City has been a source of venture capital finance since the industry’s birth, but it mainly exported these resources to startups in the Bay Area and Route 128. And Washington, D.C., the southern end of the productive Boston-Washington corridor, has largely been known as a government town, with its modest tech scene clustered in the Virginia and Maryland suburbs.

But the past several years have seen a substantial shift. New York has risen dramatically as a venture capital center; venture capital and startup activity in greater Boston have shifted from the suburbs to urban neighborhoods in the center city and around MIT. Washington D.C., has transformed into a growing startup hub as well.

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Crawlable Urbanism: Cities Are for Kids, Too

By Tanya Snyder
Published: August 13, 2013

All of a sudden, I feel like all anyone is talking about is whether it’s a good idea to raise kids in the city. I’m raising a kid in the city. I feel great about it when she has a blast on the back of the bike, or makes friends on the bus, or gets excited about pressing the beg button at the corner. I feel a little less certain when we toddle down the sidewalk and come upon guys peeing on the dumpster or passed out on the stoop. When I look at the test scores for our neighborhood schools, I get a knot in my stomach.

A few days ago I visited my friends’ new home in Potomac, a wealthy, second-ring suburb with enviable schools. Their new house sits on two acres with a pool and a basketball court. After a few hours sipping beer in their landscaped yard and watching our children frolic in the pool, I had to do some mental gymnastics to remind myself why I didn’t pick this path for myself.

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Hip, Urban, Middle-Aged

By Nancy Keates
Published: August 13, 2013
Wall Street Journal

Jennifer Williams says she often feels like the oldest person on her block. When the 52-year-old corporate communications executive sets off for work in a suit, carrying a briefcase, with her hair in a bun, she is usually surrounded by young people with tattoos and rainbow crocheted skull caps. “It’s like mom is coming in for a visit,” she says.

That doesn’t bother Ms. Williams. In fact, such diversity is exactly what she was looking for when she bought a condo in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn two years ago, after living in what she calls the “dead zone” of the Upper East Side of Manhattan. “I find it endlessly fascinating and interesting. I wanted to be somewhere with energy and life.”

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10 Most Awesome Guerrilla Gardens from Around the World

By Yasha Wallin
Published: August 3, 2013

Guerrilla gardening has been used for ages as a means of protest, a way to beautify a neighborhood, cultivate food, and build community. It’s often done illegally, on appropriated land, and while some have equated it vandalism and trespassing, plenty of others argue it affects a locale positively, greening abandoned and forgotten spaces. While Johnny Appleseed could be considered our nation’s first guerrilla gardener, some recent examples of how people are using green interventions to better their unused public areas, show the phenomena growing. Here’s a round up of ten of our favorite guerrilla gardens—in many iterations—from around the world.

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If You Build It, They Will Come: How Cleveland Lured Young Professionals Downtown

By Sophie Quinton
Published: August 2, 2013

When the Maron family decided to redevelop an entire city block in downtown Cleveland, the area was so blighted no restaurateur would lease space there. A decade later, the East Fourth neighborhood is home to Food Network personalities, a House of Blues, and free Saturday yoga classes. Café-style seating spills into the pedestrian-only street. Apartments on the block are fully leased, and a 100-unit building under construction across the street has already reached full capacity.

The success of East Fourth Street in once-struggling Cleveland was something few people would have anticipated 20 years ago. It took years of collaboration between developers, businesses, local institutions, and government, but today downtown Cleveland is taking off—and giving the old Rust Belt city a future. There wasn’t a market for urban living in Cleveland until developers like the Marons built places where young professionals would want to be.

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Urban shift has Americans bidding farewell to suburbs

Published August 1, 2013
The Today Show

The proverbial American dream of white picket fences in suburbia seems to have lost its luster as a radical new housing trend shows families staying put in the city. NBC’s Mara Schiavocampo reports.

Watch the video here

Everyday Urbanism: Why We are All Urbanists

By Katrina Johnston-Zimmerman
Published: July 30, 2013
Sustainable Cities Collective

I call myself an urbanist, but what does that really mean? Being an urbanist is not something that requires a rigidly defined body of knowledge. There is no degree for urbanism, no certificate or qualifying test. Urbanists come from a myriad of disciplines: sociologists, anthropologists, geographers, economists, city planners (and other such “-ists” and “-ers” I’m sure I’ve missed). While these degrees are good for other things of course, they are by no means necessary to be an urbanist. It seems then the people who decide to call themselves urbanists are simply those that are united by a passion for urban environments and have some sort of urban-related knowledge – which therefore could technically be anyone. In a world where more than half of all people now live in cities, and with no degree for it, I wonder – where are all the urbanists?

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