Stadium Subsidies; Fighting Brain Drain; and Houston’s Revolution: Urban Insights From Around The Web

Ryan Holeywell | @RyanHoleywell | March 18, 2016

While the Urban Edge strives to provide readers with daily news and insights about urban policy, we’re also voracious readers of city news ourselves. As part of a new weekly feature, Senior Editor Ryan Holeywell highlights the week’s most interesting articles from around the web about urban policy and city life.

We Caused the Metro Shutdown When We Decided to Let Our Cities Decay

Image via flickr/m01229

Image via flickr/m01229

This week, the subway system in Washington D.C. shut down for just over 24 hours so the transit agency’s new management team could search for potentially dangerous signs of neglect (and yes, they found them). So who’s responsible for the mess? The Washington Post‘s architecture critic says we are, collectively as a society, for failing to prioritize civic infrastructure.

The Legacy of San Antonio’s Hemisfair, 50 Years Later

The Tower of Americas was built for the 1968 World's Fair in San Antonio. Image via flickr/Nan Palmero.

The Tower of Americas was built for the 1968 World’s Fair in San Antonio. Image via flickr/Nan Palmero.

In 1968, San Antonio hosted the World’s Fair, also known that year as the HemisFair 68. The city built a park, an iconic tower, and a massive fairgrounds, in hopes that the event would put San Antonio on the international map. Attendance fell short of expectations, and the effort came at a price: the city condemned an entire neighborhood to built the fairgrounds. A historian explains the event’s legacy to the Texas Standard.

Should Economic Development Focus on People or Places?

Minute Mark Park in Downtown Houston was funded by public tax dollars. Image via flickr/Adam Baker.

Minute Maid Park in Downtown Houston was funded by public tax dollars. Image via flickr/Adam Baker.

“Cities tend to favor building stadiums and convention centers over investing in education or human services,” Governing‘s Aaron Renn writes. “It’s an understandable but troublesome trend.” He argues that rather than try to resurrect struggling areas with impressive buildings, cities should instead spend money on efforts that directly benefit the people who live in those places. It may not be the sexiest approach, but it could be the most fruitful.

The U.S. Cities Winning the Battle Against Brain Drain

Duncan Hall at Rice University in Houston, one of the places that is successfully retaining college grads. Image via flickr/Tendenci Software.

Duncan Hall at Rice University in Houston, one of the places that is successfully retaining college grads. Image via flickr/Tendenci Software.

Because college-educated workers have a big impact on local economies, it’s critical that cities figure out ways of retaining them. An analysis from City Lab shows that the Detroit, Houston and New York metros top the list for retaining college grads. Phoenix, Providence and Hartford are the worst at keeping them around. “For all the talk of how mobile the young and the educated seem to be, in quite a few metros, the bulk of college grads tend to stay where they went to school,” author Richard Florida writes. “This is good news for the economic future of these places.”

Houston’s Quiet Revolution

Doctors consult patients about women's health at Neighborhood Centers Inc.'s Harbach-Ripley House in Houston. Image via flickr/Texas Heart Institute.

Doctors consult patients about women’s health at Neighborhood Centers Inc.’s Harbach-Ripley House in Houston. Image via flickr/Texas Heart Institute.

Places Journal profiles Houston’s East Aldine neighborhood, where half the residents lack a high school diploma, and 40 percent of households take in less than $25,000 annually. Because of this, the article speculates, the city of Houston’s isn’t interested in annexing the area, despite its proximity to the city. “Rather than waiting for Houston’s embrace, (residents) are organizing as a community to meet their own needs.” A big part of that has involved working with Neighborhood Centers Inc., the massive nonprofit with a budget pushing $300 million.

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