It’s Official: Downtowns Are Booming

By Nate Berg
Published: September 27, 2012

Big city downtowns are becoming people places – again or, for some, for the first time. New figures [PDF] out from the U.S. Census Bureau show that downtown areas saw huge jumps in population between 2000 and 2010. The biggest of these metro areas, those with populations of 5 million or more, saw a collective growth rate of more than 13 percent in the areas within two miles of city hall, a stand-in measurement that, for these purposes, designates “downtown.”

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Families WILL Choose to Live Downtown, If We Design for Kids!

By Brent Toderian
Published: September 24, 2012

A few months back, Toronto’s Deputy Mayor started a political flap, stating on the floor of City Council that downtown was no place to raise kids! “Where’s little Ginny? Well, she’s downstairs playing in the traffic on her way to the park,” he exclaimed.

Flap, indeed. Urbanists and parents alike were quick to denounce the comment, including me. In a way though, we might thank the Deputy Mayor for saying candidly what unfortunately many politicians, and many parents, might still think.

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Shrink to Fit Living-Large in Tiny Spaces

By Jan Hoffman
Published: September 21, 2012
NY Times

IN July, when Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced his competition to create a building of residential “micro-units” in Manhattan, each ranging from 275 to 300 square feet, the plan ignited the imagination of countless architects and developers.

It also gave many New Yorkers a joltingly fresh perspective. For those who already consider themselves space-starved, quarters that are even more cramped seemed inconceivable. Yet to others, an apartment of that size sounded crazy-huge.

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10 Ways to Improve Your City through Public Space

By Mackenzie Keast
Published: September 19, 2012

Public spaces are increasingly being recognized as a crucial ingredient for successful cities, and for their ability to revitalize and create economic and social development opportunities. But actually finding ways to build and maintain healthy public space remains elusive to many municipal governments, especially in the developing world. The vast web of streets, parks, plazas, and courtyards that define the public realm is often lacking, too poorly planned, or without adequate citizen participation in the design process.

Recognizing these challenges, the Project for Public Spaces (PPS) released earlier this month a draft of their handbook Placemaking and the Future of Cities. It’s intended to serve as a best practices guide for those wishing to improve the economic, environmental and social health of their communities through the power of successful public space.

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Parks and Re-Creation: The Revitalizing Power of Parks in Cities

By Ucce Agada
Published: September 13, 2012
Sustainable Cities Collective

Amidst the automobile infested concrete space of most modern cities (and if, like me, you’re in Chicago, the uncivil pigeon population) are spaces which allow for community to really happen. I’m talking about parks. Parks are awesome! With access to open space, parks not only provide an outlet from our fast-paced society; they serve our neighborhoods through design, providing a natural habitat, serene experiences, and opportunities for community engagement.

There are many benefits from investing in green space; much of which can only happen through creating and maintaining parks in cities. Parks generate economic, physical and social benefits, creating stronger community ties and transforming cities by awakening vital senses of city dwellers. Many cities, in efforts to revitalize themselves, incorporate a park as part of that revitalization. This is because community leaders, city planners and architects understand the positive effects that parks and open green space have on people.

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Emerging Trend: Bicycle-Friendly Business Districts

By April Economides
Published: September 10, 2012
Transportation Issues Daily

An intriguing new trend is emerging in some communities: bicycle-friendly business districts (BFBDs). A handful of cities have created or are exploring the creation of BFBDs.

We’re fortunate to have perhaps the nation’s expert on BFBDs, April Economides, educate us about this trend.  Economides created the nation’s first Bike-Friendly Business District program for the City of Long Beach and has launched similar efforts in San Diego and Oakville (Canada).  She speaks around the U.S. and Canada about “The Business Case for Bicycling” and Bike-Friendly Business Districts. Her complete bio follows her story below.

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What We Talk About When We Talk About Cities

By Kaid Benfield
Published: September 5, 2012

I’ve been clean and sober for 20 months now and still counting. Lest you think that I am about to take you down a path of Too Much Information, please join me in lifting a beverage of choice to celebrate that it has been at least that long since I last used the word “vibrant” in my writing. I won’t speak for everyone, but for me the word had become so overused in expressing what smart growth and urban advocates seek in communities that it had become annoying at best, lazy and hackneyed at worst, stripped of fresh meaning by repetition. Enough already.

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