Weekly Digest: The Delicate Future of Downtowns
Welcome to my weekly digest for May 13, 2022.
For new subscribers, this contains a roundup of my recent writings and podcasts, as well as links to the best articles from around the web this week. You can control what emails you get from me by visiting your account page.
My next deep dive monthly newsletter comes out Monday, so look for that in your inbox.
The Delicate Future of Downtowns
My latest column for Governing magazine is now online. It’s a look at the clouds over America’s urban centers resulting from population loss, remote work, and crime/governance issues. While there are a number of problems to work through, I’m actually optimistic that they can do it.
The latest Census estimates have started to put some meat on the bone of the urban population story. While municipal estimates are yet to be released, we do have data for some cities. Between 2020 and 2021, New York City lost over 300,000 people. San Francisco lost 55,000 residents, or about 6.3 percent; Philadelphia, 25,000; and St. Louis, 7,000, dropping that city’s population below 300,000. Indianapolis and Nashville, with city-county mergers, saw the strong population growth that was recorded during the 2010s reverse last year. Nashville’s Davidson County dropped by 11,500 people, despite being in a booming metro region. Indy’s Marion County lost 5,700.
Then there is remote work. Central business districts essentially shut down during the pandemic. But while tourism and conventions are coming back, office work has remained significantly depressed. Fewer than half of workers are back in the office in many downtown markets, according to Kastle, an office security systems provider. While more firms are bringing workers back to the office now, the share of those who will be allowed to work remotely on a permanent basis appears to have gone up. Airbnb just announced that its workforce will be allowed to perform permanent remote work. Other companies are using a “hybrid” model in which employees are required to be in the office only 2-3 days per week. Two years into the pandemic era, it looks like at least some of the shift in working style will be long term.
Click through to read the whole thing.
More Content and Media Mentions
This was a slow week for content but I’ll be back to normal next week.
While I was not directly involved, there was a major internet debate that engaged with my three worlds framework. James Wood at First Things wrote an article about Tim Keller that referred to it, which prompted responses from David French and Rod Dreher among others too numerous to list, and then a follow-up by Wood again at American Reformer.
I’m extremely gratified that my framework continues to grow and grow in influence and drive the conversation and debate. Again, if you haven’t read it, see my First Things article on the three worlds of evangelicalism.
I was a guest this week on the Lutheran podcast Issues, Etc.
My podcast this week is on life at the cultural center, and how success and proximity to the cultural center affects the way people think about the world (and hence affects they way they think about change). Subscribers can read the transcript.
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Best of the Web
Here is a really interesting study by my former colleague Preston Cooper comprehensively looking at the return on investment of colleges and majors.
NY Post: Millennial men want 1950s housewives after they have kids - This trollish op-ed actually draws on a new book by Lara Bazelon, who boasted about dumping her husband, and subjecting her children to divorce, for no reason other than her own selfishness.
The Tablet: A woman’s liberation - “I spent my life trying not to be like my mother. But maybe she had everything she’d always wanted.”
NYT: The Pro-Family Agenda Republicans Should Embrace After Roe - I like the author of this piece, Patrick Brown, but this agenda is incomplete. It doesn’t actually promote family formation. Marriage itself has to be a centerpiece of a pro-family policy.
Mere Orthodoxy: Calvinism and Liberty