Like many westerners, I left a rust belt eastern city decades ago, in the belief that the region, and certainly those old east coast cities were goners. So it was with surprise and pleasure that I recently read in Landmarks, the journal of The Landmark Society of Western New York, that residents with choices are moving back into the old downtown, and even more surprising, that nationally, corporate headquarters are also moving back to urban centers from the suburbs at an accelerating rate. [Read more…] about Take me back to tomorrow – Some surprising indicators of change in U.S. cities
It’s natural to be unsettled by change, but residents of San Francisco take resistance to change to absurd levels. In 1958, Gavin Elster—the shipping magnate played by Tom Helmore in Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo—expressed San Francisco’s deeply engrained ambivalence to change well: “The things that spell San Francisco to me are disappearing fast.” A recent letter to the editor in the San Francisco Chronicle shared the typical modern lament: “Has San Francisco’s economic growth truly made it a more interesting place to live? Or just a place with more shiny but soulless places to spend money?” [Read more…] about San Francisco: The Status Quo City
This article is adapted from an illustrated talk given by Jim Chappell at the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s June 4, 2015 “Context Vol. 2: What’s the Big Idea?” Forum on the Upper East Village, aka I.D.E.A. District and Makers Quarter.
The world is filled with good ideas. San Diego has a lot of great architects and urban thinkers. For several years, a group of these dedicated urbanists have been developing and enriching a plan for the Upper East Village. I.D.E.A. = Innovation Design Education Arts. As the next step in the process to implement the District, the Foundation held “What’s the Big Idea?” to explore next steps. [Read more…] about Setting the I.D.E.A. District Apart
John King just keeps getting better and better. In his second Cityscapes volume, published by local treasure Heyday Books, he classifies fifty notable San Francisco buildings and spaces under the sobriquets of Towers, Connection, Clues and Waterfront. This builds on Volume 1’s Icons, Styles and Masters, Landscape, and Change (Cityscapes , San Francisco and Its Buildings, 2011). Another couple of volumes and we will have the complete ‘how to read a city.’ [Read more…] about Cityscapes 2: Reading the Architecture of San Francisco
Spoiler Alert. Despite being one of the worst tales of NIMBYism I have been involved in, it all turned out as it should. The project proponent, the official project opponent, and the Planning Commission all ended up doing the right thing. 420 desperately needed housing units are being built according to the City General Plan, the Neighborhood Plan, and the existing zoning, at one of the most underutilized transit accessible locations west of Chicago. [Read more…] about SPOILER ALERT: 420 Housing Units Under Construction
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor had an impact on the Bay Area beyond the emotions that gripped the nation. [Read more…] about San Francisco, Bay Area Transformed By Pearl Harbor
Portland and San Francisco, long noted for their embrace of “the odd” are now getting recognized for their efforts. [Read more…] about Portland, San Francisco Among Cities with ‘Strangest People’
In an essay recently published in the New York Times, Economist correspondent and author Ryan Avent argues that Denser Cities mean more and better paying jobs. The opinion piece is entitled One Path to Better Jobs: More Density in Cities, and is adapted from his Kindle “Single,” The Gated City. [Read more…] about More Density More & Better Jobs; But NIMBIES the Cause of the Exodus?