Josh Stephens is a contributing editor of the California Planning & Development Report (www.cp-dr.com) and former editor of The Planning Report (www.planningreport.com)
I've always hated songs about cities, particularly mawkish anthems like "New York, New York," "I Left My Heart in San Francisco," and the ghastly "I Love L.A." Lyricists seem to dream them up when there's nothing else to sing about. Indeed, cities are the setting for life, not the object of it. Singing about them is like performing a play about a theater.
Saturday, February 2, 2008 - 4:56pm PST
MINNEAPOLIS--If not for the Walker Art Center I would have scant reason to spend extra time in Minneapolis. Minneapolis is not lacking for charm or culture, but it certainly falls in that middle range of American cities, somewhere between New York and nondescript, which is to say that it is not a destination in and of itself, yet it offers reasons to extend a stay for those who find themselves so far north for other reasons.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007 - 7:25pm PST
Yes, yes. We all want to save the children. They are our most precious resource and hold the key to our future. Let them lead the way, and please, lord, don't let them get run over by a train.
Fortunately, most American kids face no such danger because they are held safe in far-flung suburbs where conformity and the cocoon of the strip mall tend to their well-being. They are growing up strong and worldly behind gates and in perfect communities far from the strife of the city, where art, culture, diversity, adventure, and freedom might stimulate them just a little too much.
Saturday, November 10, 2007 - 12:07pm PST
To paraphrase the New York Times' summation of the Anaheim Angels' rhetorical exodus to Los Angeles a few years ago: some ideas are so stupid that you just have to stand back and watch. To that I would add, some things are so stupid that they deserve derision no matter how long ago they occured. Though it crawled out from the Senate floor in the summer of 2005, SAFETEA-LU -- the $240 billion federal transportation bill -- has, for the past two years, gotten off way too easy.
Monday, October 1, 2007 - 6:00pm PDT
This week Salon.com published a remarkable interview with a contender for the White House. The candidate didn't offer the solution to stabilizing Iraq, strengthening the economy, or bringing down the price of a six-pack (at least not directly), but for the first time in the history of American campaigning that I'm aware of, he referred to the issue of "land use."
Thursday, September 6, 2007 - 9:33am PDT
WROCLAW, Poland--I have been swanning about Eastern Europe for the better part of two months, wandering the streets of cities large and small, famous and obscure. As should be apparent to anyone short of Toby Keith or James Inhofe, even the most undistinguished European city could teach any American city a thing or two about charm, walkability, and gracious living.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007 - 10:52pm PDT
WARSAW, Poland --I'm on my fourth city in a two-month excursion, and so far I've found all the quaintness, density, pedestrian life, and vernacular architecture that I was looking for as an antitode to my beloved, loathed Los Angeles. The cores of Riga and Vilnius come right out of proverbial fairy tales, and even Helsinki, though historically torn between Sweden and Russia, has plenty of the best trappings of Boston and San Francisco (as well as some of the worst of Atlanta or Dallas; more on that later).
Then there's Warsaw.
Friday, June 8, 2007 - 7:28am PDT
The high school curriculum overlooks a great many subjects, so we could go on at length pointing out its ironies and shortcomings. But the topic at hand happens to be urban planning, so let's stick with that.
Thursday, May 10, 2007 - 10:00am PDT
(Prefatory musing: As the title implies, this is Part 1 in a series. I haven't yet mapped out any of the other parts, but considering the boundless errata that clutter American cities, I anticipate little trouble finding objectionables to raise my ire next time my monthly deadline approaches. I welcome my fellow Interchangers to follow suit.)
Friday, April 13, 2007 - 9:36pm PDT
Here's an item that should be more than enough to make you spew your morning latte all over the Starbucks:
In a survey, conducted last year and released yesterday by Mercer Consulting, ranking the top 50 global cities by quality of life, not a single American city cracks the top half. Zero.
Tuesday, April 3, 2007 - 1:27pm PDT