Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wanted: The suburbanization of Chicago

Here's an excerpt from an op-ed by Dennis Byrne that's worth your time:
Almost symbolically, as Chicago voters were giving Emanuel a resounding endorsement, the new, 2010 census figures arrived. It showed that some 200,000 Chicagoans — almost 7 percent of the population — fled the city in the last decade. It's as if the entire population of Aurora, the state's second-largest city, had suddenly disappeared. What is this, Detroit?

Not that retiring Mayor Richard M. Daley hasn't left Emanuel with enough troubles: deficits, debts, pensions, schools, crime, the CTA. Chalk those problems up to bad decisions, human fallibility, greed and corruption. The new mayor and City Council, depending on their competence and integrity, can start fixing that.

But just as the recession is a nationwide affliction, Chicago's new mayor and City Council are caught in the new reality of the American metropolis: suburban dominance. It is the result of understandable human cravings for a better life, and no amount of cajoling or 20-year plans can stop it. Suburban dominance has become so entrenched that old cities must actively adjust to the new reality. Here, for example, the majority of the region's residents and jobs now are in the suburbs, and such boneheaded efforts as, say, trying to bar Walmart stores from the city, can be fatal.
Read the whole thing. Hat-tip YoChicago!

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