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I'm voting for Dukakis

Does new public transit increase gentrification and lower ridership?

Image: Dukakis CenterSmart Planet points us to a report [PDF] from the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University that concludes that new transit can lead to gentrification. My first response was well, duh, isn't that the point? It has always been a rule in real estate development that investment follows infrastructure; if you build good transit and fix roads, people will come. Density will increase. The tax base will improve. Is this not the return on investment that planners want? Is this not a good thing? Apparently some think not, because there are unintended consequences. All those …

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Core values

New Apple store in Chicago means shiny new train station, but who will fix the rest of the system?

Inside the newly renovated station near the Lincoln Park Apple store.Photo: Kevin Zolkiewicz Tomorrow, a new Apple store will open in Chicago. For residents of the Lincoln Park neighborhood, even ones who never intend to swipe their fingers across an iPad, this is a good thing. That's because as part of a deal with the city, Apple poured $4 million into renovating the notoriously dilapidated North/Clybourn station on the Chicago Transit Authority's Red Line. From the Chicago Tribune: Outside, the station has clean new brick, big new windows and a sleek new look, partly 1940s and entirely 2010. The inside …

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very stimulating news

A very impressive two weeks for the federal sustainability partnership

Atlanta was awarded $47 million for the construction of a new streetcar line. This image is one suggestion of how the project may look when completed.Image: Galounger Cross-posted from the Natural Resources Defense Council. In a breathtaking series of press conferences and releases along with the publication of a new report, the federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities -- which is led by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the Department of Transportation (DOT) -- has announced an impressive amount of federal assistance to a wide array of sustainability projects across the country. If you've been wondering …

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Scientific method

How cities are good for science, and vice versa

Cities like Hong Kong need science.Photo: Spreng Ben This week's issue of the journal Nature is all about the connection between cities and science. They've put a terrific package together, with lots of great graphics (want to know where the next megacities will emerge, or where the most scientific papers are published?) and feature articles on the synergy between urban areas and scientific innovation. Some of the articles is behind a paywall, but there's a lot that's available to non-subscribers as well. Cities are ... home to considerable scientific capital; they hold most of the world's top universities and the …

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Conservatively speaking

William Lind makes a conservative case for public transit (just not buses)

William LindFor supporters of public transportation, William Lind, the director of the American Conservative Center for Public Transportation, is a complicated case. On the one hand, he articulates very cogently the reasons that free-market Republicans should vote to fund public transit (you'll find those reasons in the interview that follows). It's an unusual position -- most Republicans are in the highways camp -- and so Lind's book, Moving Minds: Conservatives and Public Transportation (co-authored by the late Paul Weyrich), has been welcomed by many on the other side of the political fence.  But Lind's views on race and public transit …

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Haven it all

We’re tearing this highway down, Transportation Sec. Ray LaHood says

It's one thing to talk about designing cities and towns for people instead of cars, as Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has done. It's another thing to make good on that pledge by tearing down elevated highways that prevent foot traffic and isolate neighborhoods from each other. LaHood's Transportation Department announced support for three such projects in a major funding announcement Wednesday. The department made $600 million in TIGER II grants, funding 42 construction projects and 33 planning projects around the country. Perhaps the most eye-catching winner is the New Haven, Conn., Downtown Crossing, which gets $16 million to remove the …

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Guerrilla habitat

Roll up your sleeves, get out on the street, and make a Better Block

A few weeks back, we wrote about the Better Block Project in the Oak Cliff neighborhood of Dallas, where residents pioneered a guerrilla street improvement action. They showed just how easy it can be to take a traffic sewer lined with empty storefronts and transform it into a vibrant, walkable, commercially viable space. Now the Better Block Project has its own website to help spread the word, and it features this video (above) that shows the very awesome Jason Roberts, the originator of the concept, explaining how it works. It also has a video (below) about a Better Block inspired …

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Across the great divide

Is there a war between cities and suburbs? Does there have to be one?

Photo: IdiolectorCongested, dirty, dangerous cities. Soulless, dull, alienating suburbs. This old pair of stereotypes has fueled countless debates, not to mention movies. And the sides have become increasingly entrenched over the years. (Does Escape from New York validate your world view? Or American Beauty?) But as the rate of suburban poverty increases in the United States and those suburbs become more racially diverse, and as the nation's most prosperous cities become more expensive to live in and more dominated by typically suburban fixtures like chain stores, it may be time to ask whether the dichotomy needs to be revisited. This …

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Young people in Canada, anyway

New study says young people want apartments, not houses; iPhones, not cars

Would you like to live in iVancouver? There’s an apartment for that.Photo: Duane Storey It is a theme on Treehugger that walkable communities and dense cities use less energy per capita, and that the auto-centric suburb is perhaps the worst of all planning models if we want to reduce our energy and particularly our oil consumption. But do people really want to live in high-density apartments if they have the choice? A new Canadian study indicates that for a number of reasons, more and more people do. The study by GWL Realty Advisors comes to some interesting conclusions about how …

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Do the locavore motions

The future of urban agriculture is not about the 10-mile diet

Grist's Feeding the City series began by exploring how the history of urban agriculture should inspire its future, then went on to spotlight the farms, governments, businesses, and people who're skillfully planting new ideas alongside the old. Here, as the series draws to a close, planner Daniel Nairn untangles how smart growth can include city farming. The ’garden block’ concept embeds pockets of food growing within the urban fabric.Rendering: Daniel Nairn Urban agriculture is a movement in transition. And it's happening fast. Just a couple of years ago, we started hearing about Detroit's guerrilla gardeners, reclaiming patches of vacant land …

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