For many observers Covid-19 has vindicating the view that cities are unhealthy doomed places. Dense urban centers, they insist, will be abandoned for sensible suburban and rural alternatives. Downtown office towers have already depopulated as companies switch – permanently – to telecommuting. Restaurants, bars, hotels, and public accommodations of all kinds will continue to founder … Continue reading What if You’re Right?
I’m fascinated by how quickly some folks adapt to shifting circumstances and how others fail. There’s nothing like a planet-wide quarantine to wreak havoc on entire segments of the economy and society. Meanwhile, others are directly gaining from the turbulence as new opportunities present themselves. Back in October I had an old friend over for … Continue reading Cheetah
Yesterday a friend reached out to me. She asked my advice about how to deal with her landlady over a broken bathroom sink. Something snapped and water sprayed out everywhere. Someone was sent by to look at it, turned off the faulty tap, and said they’d be back in a few weeks to fix it. … Continue reading Side Effects of Side Effects of Side Effects
Many readers are familiar with the 8/80 urban planning meme. It’s a simple concept. Can an eight year old and an eighty year old each meet their daily needs on foot, possibly with the extension of a bicycle or a little public transport from time to time? Most North American communities fail this test. To … Continue reading 24 / 58
Last night I had dinner at a friend’s house. The group was composed of the usual San Francisco mix: a college professor, an architect, and a collection of software engineers of various stripes. They were single-ish. Childless. Forty-ish. Well traveled. Charming. Between them they could speak eight languages. They were old enough to be semi-established … Continue reading It’s Complicated
I spent the last week helping pack and unpack for a family as they moved to their new digs. I’ll start with the house porn since the new place was magnificently staged by real estate professionals. Then I’ll work backwards to tell this story. The new house is four stories tall and was last used … Continue reading Moving House
In the early days of the auto industry Detroit was a dynamic machine churning out huge numbers of cars with integrated supply chains clustered tightly together around Ford’s River Rouge complex in Dearborn or General Motors’ assembly plant in Hamtramck. But over time the industry spread out across the landscape, first to nearby states, then … Continue reading Bozeman: A Blessing and a Curse