An in depth analysis of WHY YOU ARE WRONG

Friday, July 28, 2006

Polish Hill

Here are some photos of the Polish Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Facts

On several other blogs I have been involved in some barfights relating urban issues like plans for downtown development, transportation and sprawl as they relate to Pittsburgh. I am sort of a newcomer, but am struck by how little evidence is presented for positions. And, I have to admit that I am not going to be providing massive charts here either. I think that I am close enough to having my facts straight and am eager for good data. This January 2006, PG article gives at least a decent backround for discussion. ( and also this article) Some of this data comes from the 2000 census so it is a bit stale ( In NY , which has changed so fast that data is pretty worthless ) but unless there have been some big changes it helps frame the conversation.

Most of the debate on the blogs is coming from people who endlessly repeat that Pittsburgh's big problem is jobs, jobs, jobs, and that the problems the city has been having relate to job losses. That article shows that this is not too accurate. The city of Pittsburgh, remains a major employment center in the region and in fact seems to have actually gained jobs during the 1990's owing to a large extent from strong growth in the medical and educational sector. What it has lost primarily is residents. I think that the article says that the city's population drop accounts for 98% of the loss in regional population.

This reinforces my point that the city of Pittsburgh has been acting as a non profit provider of jobs and amenities to a population that now increasingly lives out of the city limits. This is not something that can be sustained without some major changes- either in repopulating the city or somehow changing the distribution of funds/ taxes in the region.

The most extreme example of this type of urban model would be Washington D.C.-- a city that ( is forced ) to act as the central employment hub in the region and yet seems to get so little for it. It is not a pretty or sustainable road to be on. Change has to start happening fast. Many of the largest employers in town are hospitals or universities that are not likely to move much, but the other employers may start to be pressured by these population trends. They know where thier employees live and office space is often cheaper out of town.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Drunk Driving and Sprawl

The subject on another blog has turned to sprawl and whether it contrbutes to drunk driving. I did a post on that subject and kind of don't want to let the subject go. We all know that drunk driving is an issue of personal responsibility and is not justified under any conditions, but what kind of conditions are being created by the current layout of the American landscape?

Please comment here or on my blog but I warn you that I may have been drinking and am looking for a fight.

Monday, July 24, 2006

These Kids Ain't Dumb- NYU #1

So here are the most desirable colleges in America according to high school student's and thier parents. The kids words say it all.

"There is a clear change in students towards colleges in urban places," Franek said. "Colleges like NYU or Yale are good examples of institutions that are unapologetic about the cities they are in. At a school like NYU, the educational experience doesn't stop in the classroom."

Jennifer Maisel, a senior at Syosset High School in Long Island, N.Y., said she believes NYU's popularity among students is likely based on the resources the city has to offer."I think [NYU's rank] has more to do with stuff outside of the school, like the work opportunities, people you can meet in the city and the lifestyle in general," she said.

Here's a link to the Harvard paper with more quotes.

“If you want to be in a rural setting, NYU is not the place for you,” he said. “But if you want to be in the greatest city on earth, then Ann Arbor or Cambridge is not the place for you.”

“Powerful cities have access that they give to their students,” Franek said, referring to the abundance of internship and job opportunities in large cities.

Can't you just hear those ivory towers moan. I mean these people have gone to unbelievable lengths to create the finest and most protected bastions of knowledge only to be beaten up by a school that is on a subway line. Welcome to the school of hard knocks guys.

Dead Highway and The Living City

I ended up in a discusion on another blog about the relationship of highways to cities. In so many cities this relationship is an unstable and abusive one, but are there alternatives to it?

New York once had a major highway on the west side of Manhattan and the tale of it's birth, death and future is a great one. This was a highway that seemed to pretty much everyone to be an absolute necessity and in fact, a much larger replacement was planned. Then over a period of years it just kind of fell apart. The rather amazing rebirth of the West Side of Manhattan and the way that the city has adjusted to this change is someting to study.

Many cities have this type of highway, a by product partly of a time period when, for a variety of reasons, waterfront property was considered the place to thread ugly roads and needed infrastructure. The damage and cost of these roads started to become more clear as cleaner waterways and the movement of industrial uses out of central cities opened up the water as a valued asset. I think that part of Boston's (Big Dig fiasco) was an attempt to fix that type of highway by burying the road.

The story isn't over, but the energy and oportunity that seems to have been opened up for NY by the collapse of that road has helped to reveal it's true cost. Heres a link to the Trump project on the way and here is the dreaded road as it is now in Chelsea.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

More Thoughts On The Purpose Of Cities

A recent post on NY seems to support my point about the purpose of cities. NY is now gaining new corporate headquarters like AlCOA's. What is it about such a high cost city that makes this a rational choice for companies? It seems that the AlCOA execs saw the benefit's of being in a real organic city. I believe that one collects art.

The Purpose of Cities

David Grim's lazy musings on the importance of a Coffee shop on the South Side have me thinking about the purpose and function of cities. I don't think many people think about this much but - Why are cties needed? Are they a luxury; a relic of the industrial age or what? Are they a means to an end-a place to go and get a job or a place to visit and get drunk? Or are they an end in itself.

In 1961 at a dark time in NY's history a crazy plan to blow a hole into Manhattan made Jane Jacobs write a great book on this subject. The book struck a cord because of it's blunt logic. It also showed that most of the people who planned cities in that time period had never thought much about thier purpose.

Minor cities and towns can grow up around a single or small group of employers or resources. But great cities have to exist for a reason that trancends this. The purpose of a city at it's root relates to trade. Cities are places where people can conveniently exchange goods and ideas .To the extent that cities perform this function, they become an ends in themselves. The density level and diversity allow for endless combinations and levels of exchange. This is the reason that someone would pay a fourtune for an apartment in that kind of a place.

Does Pittsburgh want to be a great city? I think that this is a major question it has to face. It was once a dominant city of a certain type and it seems to have a power structure that relates to that indentity. But it's well placed to become something different.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Some thoughts on Sprawl

Here's a link to a post I did on the Digging Pitt site that relates to my feelings about sprawl and it's effect on Pittsburgh. It links to an extended multi party brawl taking place on another site. These two guys were fighting and so I came in and broke a bottle on thier heads and am proceeding to take over thier blog. Sue me! If you come in behind me I will cut you.

No Medicine!!

Hi, given Americas attraction to watching crack-ups, slugfests, shootouts and sleeze. I actually thought that a few might want to read my completly unmedicated ramblings.

The purpose of this blog is to carefully disect and expose anybody that dis-agrees with me. Since I am almost always right. I will be looking to dicuss the world with smart people who agree with me mostly and lesser beings who want to know why they are wrong and also cute people who are just cute. ( As an American you know that cute people are always right- untill someone cuter shows up )

For the most part, the idea is to take some of my more personal rants and put them here so that the digging pitt blog can focus on the cultural scene. The wonders of urban planning are likely to be a major subject.