Changing Urban Perceptions

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One of today’s articles (‘Prestige About Being in the City‘; National Post; 2007/12/20) quotes James McKellar (Academic Director; York Univ. School of Business). Here are some comments that I think are worth taking note of:

Urban Sprawl: “For the first 50 years [after the Second World War] the formula was very clear: cheap land, cheap gasoline and single-family housing. That formula continued until a year or two ago.” Now that formula is reversed, and the farther and farther out that people go, the cost increases.

Cost of Daily Commuting: “Gas, in the past few years, went from 70¢ a litre to $1. And…the cost of congestion…What do you do? Move your place of residence, or move your place of work.”

Downtown Prestige: “Internationalization has changed peoples’ perception of where the action is. In the 1970s and ’80s it was the prestige of having your house with the garage and the big lot. But today there’s a certain sort of prestige about being in the city…every North American city is seeing inner-city residential booming.”

Public Transit: “Cities with the highest public transit use have the highest housing prices. Why? Because if you can lower your cost of commuting, you can afford to spend more on a house…[but] I don’t think governments understand the opportunity.”

Appended 2007/12/22:

With respect to the revitalization that appears to be taking place in urban centres, a disturbing warning that it may be accompanied by a serious economic divide (‘Pity the tri-city Toronto‘; Richard Florida; Globe & Mail; 2007/12/22).

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