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Stranded in suburbia: Why aren’t Americans moving to the city?

This young family is paid well to look happy. They’d much rather live in the city. Somewhere on the way back to the city, Americans got sidetracked. Polling by the real estate advising firm RCLCO finds that 88 percent of Millenials want to live in cities. Their parents, the Baby Boomers, also express a burning desire to live in denser, less car-dependent settings. But in the past decade, many major cities saw population declines, and the overwhelming majority of population growth was in the suburbs. The trends have spawned stories like this one, from America's Finest News Source, headlined, "Family …

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City Limits: 'Urbanized' underestimates the allure of the 'burbs

For those who argue that city living represents the Great Green Future, Urbanized, the latest from filmmaker Gary Hustwit (Helvetica, Objectified) is pure eye candy. It's a sensuous, slant-lit tour of the urban world and all its promise and problems. Workers labor like ants on a Beijing skyscraper. Kids chase kites through a shantytown in Santiago. The camera slides silently along a train line through an eerily vacant downtown Detroit. (For a taste, check out the trailer, below.) The clips of cyclists in Copenhagen alone make the film worth watching. Copenhagen is a city of 1.2 million people where 37 …

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The curse of the exurbs

Yorkville: a quiet rural community until the McMansions sprouted.Photo: Liza PThere's nothing more depressing than having to stay in a hotel surrounded by acres of parking lots, arterial roads, and freeways -- unless you're caught in the permanent-housing equivalent of an airport hotel: the exurb. Sprung from its predecessor the suburb, these even farther-off 'burbs lie scores of miles away from big cities and are often filled with houses and little else. They boomed during the housing bubble, but took a terrific tumble in the crash. They were based on three simple but ultimately flawed premises: housing prices will continue …

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Breaking free from the infrastructure cult of roads

Photo: lovelydead Cross-posted from Strong Towns. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has just released a report that should be titled "Pretending it is 1952." Like a broken record, ASCE is again painting a bleak picture of the future if American politicians -- as if they need to be plied -- won't open up the checkbook for our noble engineers. And in a way that the Soviet Central Committee would have expected from Pravda, the media and blogger world is sounding the alarm. This feels more like a cult than a serious discussion on America's future. In the Long …

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Good lord, American homes are huge

This infographic from the BBC shows how much newly built North American, and especially U.S., homes dwarf those currently being built in Europe. The average new U.S. home is more than twice as big as the average new home in the U.K.

Read more: Cities, Green Home, Living, Sprawl

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Mother convicted in son’s street-crossing death speaks out on Today show [VIDEO]

Raquel Nelson, the Atlanta-area mother convicted of vehicular homicide for the death of her son while they were crossing the street outside a crosswalk, appeared on the Today show this morning. Nelson's 4-year-old son, A.J., died after being hit by a driver, Jerry Guy, who later admitted to having consumed alcohol and painkillers. Guy fled the scene, but was later apprehended. He ended up serving six months on the hit-and-run charge, but vehicular homicide and other charges were dropped. You can read my earlier post about Nelson's story here. Nelson, in contrast, could face up to three years in jail. …

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How smart growth in cities saves wilderness [VIDEO]

Photo: Kai HagenCross-posted from Natural Resources Defense Council. It's certainly well-known among my colleagues that I am passionate about cities. I'm proud to think of myself as an urbanist who believes we can no longer accept sprawl as the dominant form of land use in America. Instead, we must direct growth and development in ways that strengthen our existing cities and communities. There are many environmental, economic, and ethical reasons why this is so, but for me personally none is more compelling than the need to reduce development pressure on our remaining natural and rural landscapes. There is a bargain …

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Which cities pay the most for gas?

Which cities eat up the most gas? Mint.com has the lowdown on how often their users buy gas every month, and how much they spend (click for a larger infographic). The slobbiest gas guzzlers, according to Mint data, are San Jose, Calif. and Birmingham, Ala. The daintiest gas sippers are New York, Brooklyn (a kind of New York), D.C., and Boston -- places with robust public transportation systems. (And also, to be fair, places where it's expensive to buy gas -- people who commute into the city would be crazy not to buy gas in their own suburban enclaves, and …

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Pedestrians and transit riders come last [VIDEO]

After my post yesterday about the devastating case of Raquel Nelson -- the Atlanta-area woman who was convicted of vehicular homicide after her son was struck by a driver while they were crossing a busy road -- I've been hearing from a lot of readers. Commenter pdxcityscape posted a link to a PBS Blueprint America segment I can't believe I hadn't seen yet. It exposes the dangerous design flaws on another Atlanta-area road, Buford Highway, and explains how outdated, auto-centric planning standards fail to serve an increasingly poor and carless suburban population. The results are often fatal. It's a terrific …

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Mom who lost son in hit-and-run could face more jail time than driver

Raquel Nelson of Marietta and her three children were hit by a tipsy two-time hit-and-runner, Jerry L. Guy, in April 2010. Nelson's 4-year-old later died of his injuries. But prosecutors dropped a homicide charge against Guy, and he was sentenced to two years for hit-and-run and served only six months. Nelson, who was convicted this week of vehicular manslaughter for having the chutzpah to cross a street, could get 36 months -- six times longer than the man who killed her child.  What could Nelson have done instead? Basically either stayed inside or gotten some flying shoes. The court considered …

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