American Cities


American Cities Should Be More Colorful

Designer Rachael Smith argues that a Puritan attitude toward color explains why so many American cities are clad in grays and browns, and links the gray-ification of cities to their gentrification.

March 31, 2021 - Next City

California Shelter-in-Place

Two Stories From 2020: Which Is True?

Have all cities lost people due to COVID-19, or just a few high-cost ones?

March 1, 2021 - Michael Lewyn

Trump Sign

We Are (Sort of) Less Polarized Than in 2016

After moving toward Democrats for decades, central cities moved toward Republicans in 2020.

December 2, 2020 - Michael Lewyn

New York Police Department

Which Cities Are Becoming More Violent?

Some cities have become significantly more violent since the George Floyd protests began—but not all. Why have some cities been more successful than others?

September 14, 2020 - Michael Lewyn

White House Seder


Those of us who cherish cities have much to be grateful for (at least in some cities).

April 2, 2018 - Michael Lewyn

Empty Retail

Should Online Shopping Change How We Use Ground-Level Space?

Urbanist Jane Jacobs' support for mixed use development has long been seen as the best urban design strategy, but this vision assumed that the retail space under housing could be rented. What if that is no longer the case?

February 19, 2017 - Shelterforce/Rooflines

Freeway Construction

The Smart Growth Movement: A (Partial) Success

Has the smart growth movement succeeded? It depends how you measure "success."

December 27, 2016 - Michael Lewyn

Trump Sign

Malign Neglect? Urban Policy in the Trump Era

How much do we have to fear from the president-elect's policy plans for urban America? We can hope that he will follow his party's playbook and largely ignore the cities, but potential changes to housing policy are more serious.

December 1, 2016 - Shelterforce/Rooflines

Downtown Palmyra

Does Place Matter Anymore? Cities and the 2016 Election

Cities have appeared to figure very little into the presidential election up to now. To get a sense of whether this impression is accurate, I spent some time looking at the two party platforms, and the two candidate's websites.

August 16, 2016 - Shelterforce/Rooflines

Pokémon Go

Time to Try Pokémon Go: Augmented Reality Connecting People to Places

Planners across the globe have been exploring opportunities to use augmented reality to enhance the way the public engages with the city. Over the last few days Pokémon Go took off, and now people are wandering across cities to catch Pokémon.

July 13, 2016 - Jennifer Evans-Cowley

Moving Van

Mapping The Movement of *Some* Millennials

The in-migration of Millennials is largely driving the changes that American cities are going through. More specifically, it is the ones with college degrees who are driving the change. Where are they moving, and what is their effect?

June 24, 2016 - Shelterforce/Rooflines

Is Net-Zero Building Realistic on a Large Scale?

Exploding global population numbers and worries about escalating energy prices, climate change, and energy independence have placed a priority on net-zero building. This article explores the viability of net-zero communities and cities.

June 22, 2016 - Blue & Green Tomorrow

Cities Where Density Benefits Transportation Efficiency

A simple demonstration of one of the benefits of density.

July 11, 2015 - Architect This City

Millennials in the Wild

Do Millennials Opt for Cities or Suburbs? Yes.

Recent stories claiming that millenials either (a) prefer cities to suburbs or (b) prefer suburbs to cities both have some basis in reality.

June 1, 2015 - Michael Lewyn

Coney Island Gentrification

More Sensationalism About Gentrification

Governing's recent study of gentrification systematically exaggerates gentrification in a variety of ways.

February 2, 2015 - Michael Lewyn

Leaving California

Migration Trends Don't Support the 'Golden Age' of Cities Narrative

"Who's Moving to the Cities, Who Isn't" suggest that the number of Americans selling the "Golden Age" cities narrative is greater than the number of Americans buying into it.

October 6, 2014 - Center for Community Progress

The red carpet at the Oscars

And the Feel-Good Oscar Goes To...

Discussing some of the most pro-urban movies ever made.

March 1, 2014 - Michael Lewyn

Google maps screengrab of the United States

Mapping GDP—Urban Areas and Everything Else

An intrepid Reddit user has produced a striking visualization for the economic importance of the country’s urban areas by splitting the nation’s GDP into two—the top 50 percent and the lower 50 percent.

February 24, 2014 - The Washington Post - The Fix

Homeless sleeping

The Inequality Problem of America’s Cities

A new report by Brookings confirms that “big cities remain more unequal places by income than the rest of the country.” Where is the gap between wealth and poverty the greatest?

February 24, 2014 - Brookings

The Urban Election Onstage in Seattle

Chuck Wolfe comments on this week's mayoral election in Seattle, suggesting the pending populist model for New York City is already on display.

November 4, 2013 - myurbanist

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

HUD’s 2023 Innovative Housing Showcase

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

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Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.