Tuesday, August 16, 2005

When the dead leave your city and other minor items

Today, an array of miscellaneous items that are too small for their own posts:

  • Another sad and cautionary tale of Detroit, which has gotten so bad that people are actually unearthing their relatives from cemeteries and moving them to the suburbs at the rate of 400-500 a year (!). For those of you who are wondering, noted urban experts officially consider it a moderately bad sign when even the dead are leaving your city...
  • LA Times article on how high gas prices are incenting a few more people to ride mass transit, but not many. The #1 barrier? Bad schedules and slow trips.
  • Virginia Postrel Dynamist blog post on cleaning up smog in California by targeting the 10% of vehicles that are 50% of the problem. Seems like simple common sense, doesn't it?
  • Houston Business Journal article noting that Texas is at the top of the heap nationally in industrial project spending, with half of all Texas investments coming to Harris County. Pretty good haul for the county: only 15% of the state's population but getting 50% of the industrial investing.
  • New York Times article explaining the popularity of the exurbs to incredulous New Yorkers, who extend their sympathies to all of us not fortunate enough to pay a million dollars for a thousand sq.foot co-op at the center of the universe.
  • Another New York Times piece on creative class slackers moving to Philly because they can no longer afford to live anywhere near Manhattan (see previous bullet point).
  • Washington Post article on the surprising density of western cities vs. eastern ones, esp. LA, which is now the highest density metro area in the country at 7,068 people per square mile, vs. Atlanta as the lowest density major metro at 1,783/sq.mile. Galveston ranked a surprisingly high #11 in the country, at 4,527/sq.mile. Houston is not mentioned in the article, but is a reasonable and healthy 3,300/sq.mile: not too high density with too many cars per square mile (and the resultingly famous LA congestion), and not too low density with long driving distances to get anywhere (Atlanta is also getting quite the traffic congestion reputation).


At 10:51 PM, August 16, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"creative class slackers moving to Philly because they can no longer afford to live anywhere near Manhattan"

Oh, I don't know about the "anywhere near Manhattan" part. As the article states, the train ride from Philly to NYC is 75 minutes -- in other words, about the same as driving from Katy to downtown during rush hour.

At 6:13 AM, August 17, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Believe it or not, there are still some affordable parts of Manhattan: Washington Heights and Inwood, for example. Not exactly SoHo...

At 1:48 PM, August 17, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nope, ask anyone who actually lives in Katy. Today I left the house at 6:45 and made it downtown at 8:00 exactly. Once they're done with construction it should get a little better (and then, as development springs up in the direction of Brookshire, it will get progressively worse), but the point you're missing is that Katy is a *suburb* of Houston, not a completely separate city in another state like Philly.

At 1:48 PM, August 17, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Detroit will be the shining example of how to kill a city. Raise taxes and persecute anyone wanted to start a business.

The city was killed long before that, by mostly different conditions than you mentioned. A book by Thomas Segrue provides a comprehensive analysis of the factors of Detroit's decline, and the following review nicely captures his points:


...in case the url gets cut off, that's history dot standord dot edu slash conference slash sugruerev.htm

At 2:00 PM, August 17, 2005, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

75 mins may be comparable during certain times of the day (although not with an HOV bus), but the Philly to NYC Amtrak fare is $53 *one way*, $106 round trip. Not the most affordable day trip, and certainly not commuter pricing. I'm pretty sure a visit from Katy to downtown Houston is much, much less.

At 12:13 AM, August 18, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Commuter pricing or not, over 8,000 people make the Philly-NYC amtrak commute each weekday (according to the article).

But anyway, my point is that creative class slackers move to Philly specifically *because* of its borough-like proximity to Manhattan, hence the references in the article to Philly being the "sixth borough." This proximity is not unlike that of Katy to downtown Houston, which is not considered by most people to be an outlandish distance. That is all.

At 8:41 PM, August 18, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding density, there is an excellent series of maps about Houston in the latest issue of Cite (a great publication), including population density, ethnicity, median income, annexation history, a street map circa 1942, permitting activity, etc.

From eyeballing the density map, here are a few rough figures by neighborhood:
Montrose - 7,500 to 10,000 per square mile,
Heights - 5,000 to 7,000,
near northside - 7,500 to 10,000, Gulfton - 22,000 to 25,000, Sharpstown to suburban Chinatown - 7,500 to 17,000,
east end - 7,500 to 10,000,
Meyerland - 2,500 to 5,000,
3rd ward - 5,000 to 7,500

Our overall total, which Tory mentioned as 3,300, may include large areas within the city that are uninhabited, including the Addicks and Barker reservoir/park system, Lake Houston, Memorial park, the airports, etc., and certainly would include the very low density land on the south, southeast, and northeast sides of town. I suspect the density of our "settled areas" is probably higher than the figure mentioned for Galveston (4,527).


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