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Old Posted Jul 21, 2018, 4:22 PM
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The Future of the U.S. Looks a Lot Like Chicago

The Future of the U.S. Looks a Lot Like Chicago


20 July 2018

By Conor Sen

Read More: https://www.bloombergquint.com/view/...-future-of-u-s

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Of all America’s major cities, Chicago may be unique. The rest of the nation — particularly newer, faster-growing cities — should pay close attention to its evolution, because the future of America looks a lot like Chicago.

- While Chicago has a vibrant core, it’s not as dauntingly expensive as New York or San Francisco. Chicago lacks the population growth that Sun Belt metros like Houston and Atlanta have, but it is no symbol of Rust Belt decline like Detroit has been. How did it achieve this relatively sustainable happy medium? — As an Atlantan, I recognize that Chicago also got big very quickly, and then it got old. In the late 19th and early 20th century it was one of the fastest-growing cities in the world. — Chicago’s rapid growth halted with the onset of the Great Depression, and only once its population growth slowed and the city began to age did some of its problems became apparent.

- The big picture of Chicago’s modern troubles is clear. The city is losing population. Factory jobs largely left the cities, taking middle class employment with it. Chicago boomed as a railroad city, and as American growth evolved from rails to roads, Chicago became less essential. — Cold weather deters some from moving or staying there, as it has for most places in the Northeast and the Midwest. It’s a high-tax city. And then modern Chicago has unique governance challenges, from an overhang of pension and debt obligations to a high rate of unsolved crime.

- But demographics tell a more nuanced story. Chicago continues to add young, affluent households in its urban core, just like many other cities across the country. It added a lot of Mexican immigrants in the 1990s, and Chicago suffered when Mexican immigration to the U.S. declined and ultimately reversed 10 years ago. — Its net population loss is primarily due to two factors: a steady outflow of black households, and then white population loss associated with an aging white population. On balance, Chicago might be a metro that’s seen as struggling at 9.5 million people but would be thriving at 6 million people.

- That latter point is a cautionary tale for metros like Dallas, Houston and Atlanta, all of which will have more than 6 million people in a few years. Early-stage growth is a lot easier and happier than the costs associated with sustainability. While those large Sun Belt metros aren’t in cold weather regions and aren’t reliant on factory jobs like Chicago was a century ago, they do have growth and demographic patterns that could become cause for concern. — These metros have boomed in large part because they offered cheap, brand-new suburban single-family homes in the late 20th century. In large part that meant white families buying affordable brand-new single-family homes in communities with new infrastructure and low taxes.

- We haven’t yet seen if those communities remain sustainable as those families age and move on, the housing stock and infrastructure ages, and taxes go up as governments need to spend more on maintenance. We’ve seen nationally that the combination of declining economic fortunes and growing racial diversity can create a toxic political environment. — What happens when counties transition over from largely homogenous white Republican-dominated counties to diverse, Democratic-leaning counties with growing costs from suburban poverty and aging infrastructure? Will they still be destinations of choice, or will they be avoided for more affluent urban cores or newer places in other metro areas?

- Chicago today is a mature metro area with an island of affluence in its center, a moderate number of thriving suburbs, large swathes of neglect and decline, and high levels of racial and socioeconomic inequality. Many Sun Belt metros currently seen as success stories could end up with a similar fate — unless they emulate how Chicago maintained its successes, and avoid how Chicago went wrong.

.....
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Old Posted Jul 21, 2018, 6:02 PM
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Cute think piece.
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Old Posted Jul 21, 2018, 6:20 PM
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I don't think any of this is unique to Chicago, but I do think Chicago and Illinois are both fairly representative of the US as a whole. Illinois and Texas both essentially match the national Gini coefficient. Both Chicago and major cities in Texas are racially and economically segregated. This is true of Georgia and Atlanta as well. Seems to me these places already "look" like Chicago, they just haven't experienced widespread job loss from waning industries yet.
     
     
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Old Posted Jul 23, 2018, 2:29 AM
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chicago pretty slippery. has refused at several key moments to take a nose dive.

could be in part because of his massive infusion of immigrants throughout its DNA strand. lots and lots of people who just wouldn't quit and were go-getters from a million other places
     
     
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Old Posted Jul 23, 2018, 3:03 AM
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Yep.
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Old Posted Jul 24, 2018, 1:14 PM
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Not sure the point of this article, except to say that a couple Sunbelt cities are mirroring Chicago's population growth curve in terms of the raw total. Obviously those cities are nothing like Chicago. If you want to pick a single demographic story that explains Chicago, it is the history of black Chicago.. the fear of Black neighbors pushed whites out of huge swaths of the city after Shelley v. Kraemer ruled racial covenants unconstitutional, which provided an engine for suburban explosion. The subsequent and continual decline of the black community after manufacturing jobs evaporated, and the exodus of black folks from Chicago continues to be the defining population trend in Chicago that overshadows all others.

In the big Southern cities, I don't think the black population will follow that kind of track. For one, black folk have been present since emancipation, so there's no huge white exodus to the suburbs... suburban growth is/was fueled by transplants, mostly white. For two, there's no critical mass of manufacturing jobs whose loss would devastate the black community in those cities. The black community has a not insignificant fraction of people who work professional/corporate jobs alongside whites, and if anything were to happen to these jobs it would affect all racial groups.

---

It is interesting to me how different parts of Chicago seem to echo different regional development styles, and it's even geographically linked to some extent. NW Indiana has a strong Northern New Jersey or Pennsylvania feel. The North Shore feels like NY suburbs in Westchester. The Southwest Suburbs feel like sprawl in Dallas or Tulsa. The newer stuff to the northwest sometimes feels like outer Denver or Minneapolis. I dunno, maybe I'm imagining...?
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Last edited by ardecila; Jul 24, 2018 at 1:26 PM.
     
     
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Old Posted Jul 24, 2018, 2:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ardecila View Post





It is interesting to me how different parts of Chicago seem to echo different regional development styles, and it's even geographically linked to some extent. NW Indiana has a strong Northern New Jersey or Pennsylvania feel. The North Shore feels like NY suburbs in Westchester. The Southwest Suburbs feel like sprawl in Dallas or Tulsa. The newer stuff to the northwest sometimes feels like outer Denver or Minneapolis. I dunno, maybe I'm imagining...?
i can definitely see this. st. louis sort of does the same thing in it's own way, i think both cities functioning as major "gateway" cities to vast swaths of the interior pulled up some of those influences. for st. louis, it's echos of new orleans in places like carondelet or soulard, the ohio valley, the near southwest (rte 66 corridor), exurban nashville feels (the ozark exurbs) etc.

the illinois suburbs of st. louis like granite city feel like NW indiana/jersey, funnily, especially with the steel mills, refinery complexes, etc.
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Old Posted Jul 24, 2018, 2:55 PM
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another one is kansas city that does this....the vast sw suburbs of kc on the kansas side are somehow mimicking dallas AND chicagoland suburbs at the same time (the development is almost identical to say rolling meadows, etc in places). suburban (missouri) st. louis in contrast sort of slams into ozarky hills pretty fast and the suburbs become a mess, with subdivisions following ridgelines and stroads in valleys like outside of atlanta or nashville. however, the eastern suburbs of kc sort of have a vaguely southeastern-lite feel as well, with some wooded, leapfrogged valleys and random horse farms, different than the dallas/tulsa/okc thing going on to the southwest. the northern suburbs of kc really take on a northern plains feel unlike anywhere else in missouri.
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Old Posted Jul 24, 2018, 2:56 PM
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I can't figure out why Chicago isn't booming more today. Think about it--it has tons of culture, walkable neighborhoods, sex appeal, great infrastructure and transit for an American city--why are the tech companies and newer industries setting up shop in relatively bland cities like Dallas or Houston when they could attract their talent to Chicago? Sure, the winters suck but that's all I can really think of.
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Old Posted Jul 24, 2018, 3:00 PM
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Chicago is booming and declining at the same time, depending on what part of the city you look.
     
     
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Old Posted Jul 24, 2018, 3:02 PM
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Originally Posted by destroycreate View Post
I can't figure out why Chicago isn't booming more today. Think about it--it has tons of culture, walkable neighborhoods, sex appeal, great infrastructure and transit for an American city--why are the tech companies and newer industries setting up shop in relatively bland cities like Dallas or Houston when they could attract their talent to Chicago? Sure, the winters suck but that's all I can really think of.
inertia/taxes/demographics/state of illinois/climate. my chicagoland inlaws are about to cash out of chicagoland for missouri for partially the reasons i mentioned. they don't really care about urbanism.

the property taxes in chicagoland are astronomical compared to the dirt cheap rates in some surrounding states.

this kind of stuff applies more to retirement age boomers (and boomer CEOs) and much less to people building careers in urban settings, etc
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Last edited by Centropolis; Jul 24, 2018 at 3:16 PM.
     
     
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Old Posted Jul 24, 2018, 3:02 PM
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Originally Posted by SIGSEGV View Post
Chicago is booming and declining at the same time, depending on what part of the city you look.
This alone would make it representative of the US as a whole

Quote:
I can't figure out why Chicago isn't booming more today. Think about it--it has tons of culture, walkable neighborhoods, sex appeal, great infrastructure and transit for an American city--why are the tech companies and newer industries setting up shop in relatively bland cities like Dallas or Houston when they could attract their talent to Chicago? Sure, the winters suck but that's all I can really think of.
Weather is a big part of it, although that never stopped Toronto, London or Moscow from being hot places to live.
     
     
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Old Posted Jul 24, 2018, 3:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Zapatan View Post

Weather is a big part of it, although that never stopped Toronto, London or Moscow from being hot places to live.
Toronto, London and Moscow are among the warmest/sunniest cities in their respective countries. They have great weather for national standards.

I think weather plays a role, but probably a bigger issue is that the Midwest is not very desirable (and Illinois outside of Chicagoland is one of the worst states), taxes/fees are high and rising and most people don't care about urbanism.

Also, the urban parts of Chicagoland are doing fine. It's everywhere else that's underperforming.
     
     
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Old Posted Jul 24, 2018, 3:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Centropolis View Post
the property taxes in chicagoland are astronomical compared to the dirt cheap rates in some surrounding states.

this kind of stuff applies more to retirement age boomers (and boomer CEOs) and much less to people building careers in urban settings, etc
This. Some of those North Shore towns you're paying like 20-30k in annual property taxes. If you aren't wealthy, and don't have kids in schools, and your property is barely appreciating, then what's the point?
     
     
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Old Posted Jul 24, 2018, 3:22 PM
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Originally Posted by destroycreate View Post
why are the tech companies and newer industries setting up shop in relatively bland cities like Dallas or Houston when they could attract their talent to Chicago?
the tech companies ARE setting up shop in chicago.

google has a large presence in the west loop where it continues to expand seemingly every year, and just yesterday facebook signed a 250K SF lease in a brand new office tower in the loop where it is expected to hire 1 -2 thousand new employees.


chicago is booming.

and dying at the same time.

it doesn't work in straight-line "up or down" simplicity like other US cities.

i implore you to go back and carefully reread ardecila's post in this thread.
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Old Posted Jul 24, 2018, 3:30 PM
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Is it just me, or does the article read like a high school student's essay?
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Old Posted Jul 24, 2018, 3:40 PM
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LOL yeah urban south side has been doing so great. Pretty much nobody in the country cared much about urbanism until a few places very recently (and we continue to be a small minority), the south is still very unapologetically anti-urban, desirability is all about perspective and perception. Illinois in particular is a state that ran itself into the ground, it's their own fault. Minnesota does a lot better than Illinois despite being much colder.

Also, Moscow is nowhere near the warmest city in Russia, neither is Toronto in Canada, Beijing has colder winters than Chicago yet it's the country's billionaire capital and we all know China has a plethora of warmer cities. The objective reality is cold winters historically and in the future do not inhibit a city's growth or success in the world, it's essentially irrelevant.
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Old Posted Jul 24, 2018, 3:43 PM
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The objective reality is cold winters historically and in the future do not inhibit a city's growth or success in the world, it's essentially irrelevant.
Previous non-sequiturs aside, I think that's pretty (objectively) false.

Weather is obviously a factor in locational choice. Not the only factor, or even a primary factor, but it matters.
     
     
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Old Posted Jul 24, 2018, 3:51 PM
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it matters in a country like the united states, with well developed transportation and other infrastructure across an extremely wide range of climates, unlike canada or russia. and in any case, moving a headquarters to atlanta from lansing is a hell of a lot easier and sensical than moving an organization from moscow to sevastopol or toronto to kelowna.

and it's all subject to local conditions...obviously minneapolis has historically been far less vulnerable than detroit.
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Old Posted Jul 24, 2018, 3:56 PM
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and in any case, moving a headquarters to atlanta from lansing is a hell of a lot easier and sensical than moving an organization from moscow to sevastopol or toronto to kelowna.
chicago has actually been coming out ahead in the HQ relocation game recently - vacuuming up F500 HQ's sprinkled about in smaller midwest cities and towns. in the last handful of years there's been ADM, Conagra, and most recently Caterpillar.

now there's speculation about Kellogg's possibly moving their HQ to the windy city from battle creek after recent reports of several Kellogg's top-level execs purchasing expensive residences in chicago.
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