Columbia Town Center
Columbia Town Center Amanda Kolson Hurley

A morning roundup of the day’s news

Suburban success: Some might call the planned community of Columbia, Maryland, kind of … dull, writes CityLab contributing editor Amanda Kolson Hurley in The Washington Post. But at its landmark anniversary, developer James Rouse gets credit for Columbia’s forward-thinking design:

As Columbia marks the 50th anniversary since the first residents moved in, it has become clear that Rouse got some important things right. As progressive urban planners have turned their attention to the suburbs, they’ve striven to achieve a lot of the same things Columbia already has. The unincorporated town of 100,000 is prosperous and more varied racially and economically than many revitalized urban neighborhoods in cities like New York, Washington and San Francisco, which have become islands of extreme wealth. It turns out that stable, diverse, flourishing communities can exist without short city blocks, warehouses-turned-lofts and beer gardens—and Columbia is the proof.

New-wave urban manufacturing: The Economist looks to the high-tech specialty manufacturing scene of Brooklyn’s Navy Yard (think: robots, lasers, 3-D printing) as an intriguing model for other cities.

Take me to the river: The idea of swimming in the Willamette River in Portland was once unfathomable—it was a “bacterial stew.” But after a recent sewage system update, the river is enjoying a rapid renaissance. (AP)

Cop cuts: Mayors aren’t liking a U.S. House bill that would zero out funding for a Justice Department grant program (COPS) that helps local law enforcement agencies hire police. (Route Fifty)

Hidden poverty: We know Lake County, Illinois, as the placid suburban ideal of Johns Hughes movies, but beneath the surface there are growing pockets of deep poverty in Ferris Bueller’s old neighborhood—a trend also seen in other supposedly affluent Chicago ’burbs. (Guardian)

Let liberal cities be: National Review lays out the conservative case against states’ preemption of liberal city policies, arguing for the intrinsic values of localism: “Conservatives cannot afford to propagate the school of thought that recalcitrant local politics justifies intervention from above—this sort of ends-justify-the-means theorizing has been, and will always be, used as a battering ram to impose progressive policies on rebellious states.”

Millennial makeover: In Erwin, Tennessee, young residents last year organized an “Elephant Revival Festival” to help embrace/erase the small town’s gruesome claim to fame—the public execution of a circus elephant named Mary in 1916. Since then, the mayor has embraced a host of other events and policy updates making the town more fun. (Governing)

The urban lens:

Share your city scenes on Instagram with #citylabontheground.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Equity

    Amazon Should Just Build HQ2 In My Apartment

    Since no city submitted the perfect bid for the company’s second world headquarters, I put together my own.

  2. POV

    One of the Greatest Threats to Our Lifespans Is Loneliness

    What would society be like if health insurers and public bodies invested as much in encouraging social encounters as exercise and good diet?

  3. Life

    In Montreal, French Expats Find Language Doesn't Translate to Community

    More Parisians are moving to Quebec seeking lower rents, jobs, and an easy cultural fit. But as housing prices rise, so does resentment among the city’s locals.

  4. Construction workers build affordable housing units.
    Equity

    Why Is 'Affordable' Housing So Expensive to Build?

    As costs keep rising, it’s becoming harder and harder for governments to subsidize projects like they’ve done in the past.

  5. Raj Chetty
    Equity

    Why the Solutions to Economic Mobility Are Local

    The American Dream now comes down to a coin toss, explains economist Raj Chetty.