View down California Street in San Francisco, California with Chinatown pagoda buildings and golden hour sky in background.

Is Inequality Destroying American Cities?

A recent video claimed that high income inequality is the “Thing That Will Destroy Our Cities.” Is this true?

March 13, 2024 - Michael Lewyn

The granite exterior of the Nordstrom store in San Francisco.

Recent Retail Closures in U.S. Cities Follow Trends Established Before the Pandemic

While some cling to debatable claims about higher crime rates as the cause for recent high-profile store closures in U.S. downtowns, the real reasons are more realistically extensions of the causes of the “retail apocalypse” from the before times.

May 15, 2023 - CNN

Aerial Philadelphia cityscape by night with the City Hall tower in the foreground and Ben Franklin bridge spanning Delaware river in the back

Report: American Downtowns Safer Than You Think

A Brookings Institution study reveals that crime rates in major cities have risen, but downtown districts account for a negligible part of the growth.

April 12, 2023 - The Philadelphia Inquirer

A homeless encampment is set up outside a transit station, next to bike share stations and a ticket dispenser.

The Deepening Transit Crisis: L.A. Times Reports Drug Use on Transit

An article by the L.A. Times earlier this week has raised the temperature of the debate about drug users and crime on rail transit. Concerns about public safety on transit are a common symptom of post-pandemic transit around the country.

March 17, 2023 - Los Angeles Times

Protesters with signs in Atlanta after Tyre Nichols murder

Memphis: Crime-fighting Camera Sheds Light on Police Abuse

The irony is unmistakable. Public surveillance cameras, long controversial in the criminal justice community, provided pivotal video footage of the beating of motorist Tyre Nichols by five Memphis police officers at a traffic stop on January 7.

February 2, 2023 - The New York Times


Chain Drugstores Are Closing, But Not Because of Shoplifting

Massive chain drug stores have become integral members of the urban fabric, for better or worse, but widespread store closures and security practices have come to symbolize urban decline. The dynamic must be monitored.

November 10, 2022 - Slate

Washington D.C. Protest

A Somber Earth Day Finding

Polling from CBS News/YouGuv shows an inverse relationship between the economy and the environment. A year ago, 56% of respondents rated climate change as an urgent issue. Today's Earth Day finding shows it at 49% as doubts grow about the economy.

April 24, 2022 - CBS News


Infrastructure Investment for Public Safety: Lessons from Medellín

A natural experiment in Medellín indicates that infrastructural investments can reduce crime and improve perceptions of public safety.

January 20, 2022 - Streetsblog Chicago


Big Cities Aren't as Bad as People Think

Paul Krugman argues that the pervasive myth of cities as crime-ridden cesspools harms democracy and creates a false contrast between urban and small-town America.

July 21, 2021 - New York Times


Another Fun Neighborhood Analysis Toy

A Trulia feature offers lots of interesting information about neighborhoods (or at least about how their residents perceive them).

December 23, 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

Security Cameras

Use of Private Surveillance Grows With the Help of Cheap AI Tech

As the technology gets cheaper, AI surveillance systems are gaining popularity in some parts of the country, like the neighborhood of Magnolia in Seattle.

December 9, 2019 - The Seattle Times

LA Crime Scene

LAPD is Looking for 5,000 Volunteers to Help Police Neighborhoods

The Los Angeles Police Department is looking to recruit 5,000 volunteers to run stake outs and "undercover surveillance," along with other police activities.

August 2, 2019 - The Los Angeles Times

Neighborhood-Based Apps

Neighborhood-Based Apps and the Socialized Fear of Crime

Violent crime is at the lowest rate in decades, but don't tell that to the people who use neighborhood-based apps like Nextdoor, Citizen, and Neighbors.

May 9, 2019 - Vox

New York City, New York

Preventing Crime, One Park at a Time

Deborah Marton, executive director of the New York Restoration Project, connects parks and open space to improved public safety.

March 11, 2019 - Deborah Marton

Manhattan, New York City, New York

Birds of Passage: Quantifying Jacobs's Gloom

While the debate continues unabated on the influence of the physical and land use characteristics of a city on crime, a critical aspect is left out: resident transience. Jacobs took notice and feared its negative influence. Was she right?

January 7, 2019 - Fanis Grammenos

Crime Watch

Op-Ed: Seattle Should Do More About Crime in Business Districts

To combat a rash of incivility and outright criminal acts, three Business Improvement Area directors argue that Seattle needs to commit more law enforcement resources to business districts.

November 24, 2018 - The Seattle Times

Manhattan, New York City

The View from Hudson Street—With Thoughts on Science and Orthodoxy

Anecdotal evidence isn't enough to make claims about the connection between density and crime, but the planning orthodoxy does so anyway.

October 17, 2018 - Fanis Grammenos

Eyes on the Street

Eyes from the Street – A Finer Filter

Evidence described here suggests that urban design for "eyes on the street" is not enough to lower crime.

July 2, 2018 - Fanis Grammenos

Canadian Street

Eyes from the Street: The Neighbourhood Fabric that Matters

The mantra “eyes on the street" focuses on the physical and functional traits of urban fabric but fails to explain the high crime rate of my Jacobsian neighbourhood. Time to reconsider, look for explanations, and exchange mantras for research.

April 9, 2018 - Fanis Grammenos

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Department of Housing and Community Development

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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.