Once Nearly Extinct, Streetcar Gets New Life In US

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) – When the auto plant here closed, this prosperous Wisconsin port city on Lake Michigan lost more than just its largest employer. Its sense of vitality seemed to drain away, and city leaders set out to find something that would inject life into the brick-storefront downtown while the economy went through a transition.

What they came up with was obsolete: an electric streetcar. Kenosha decided to bring back a relic that once clattered around metropolitan areas in pre-war America but was abandoned on the march to modernity.

More than a decade later, the experiment is now popping up all over. More than 30 cities around the country are planning to build streetcar systems or have done so recently. Dallas, Portland and Seattle all have new streetcar lines. Most projects involve spending millions of dollars to put back something that used to be there – often in the same stretches of pavement.

“It goes along with the revival of inner cities all over America,” said Steve Novick, transportation commissioner in Portland, which has spent more than $250 million to replace the lines the city shut down in 1950. “It’s too bad that they weren’t kept here all along.”

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/home/20131112_ap_043edaa93bec4e16a0a93d2539d71084.html#R3BS9I7CtAX4jqGH.99

Where Obama Did Better — And Where He Did Worse

Editor’s note:  Very interesting election analysis regardless of which side you are on.  Shows the differences between McCain and Romney’s efforts in their respective run for President again Obama.

President Obama carried fewer states than he did four years ago.  He won a second term by dominating the nation’s large urban areas — although mostly by smaller margins compared to his 2008 vote totals.

To view interactive maps for each state, by county, for 2008 and 2012 click here:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/politics/obama-better-or-worse/?hpid=z3

5 Great Cities For Gen Y’ers

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  Pittsburgh made the short list!

BOSTON (MainStreet) — With mobile phones, mobile computingFoursquare and GPS, “Generation Y” seems like it’s always on the move — but where should its 20- and 30-something members be moving to?

Move Inc.(MOVE) , parent company of Realtor.com and other relocation-oriented Web sites, recently assessed dozens of U.S. cities for everything from nightlife to average apartment rents to find five great places for Gen Y’ers to live. Also called millennials because they’ve come of age since the year 2000, Gen Y’ers are young adults in their 20s and early to mid-30s.

“We’re finding that millennials look at buying homes differently than baby boomers do,” Move’s Julie Reynolds says. “Where baby boomers look at homes more as investments, millennials see housing as more of a lifestyle option. More millennials are living closer to where they work, closer to the central part of towns and focus on cultural activities and other things to do other than just work.”

So Move assessed cities for such things as parks, museums, professional sports teams and other recreational offerings.

Read more: http://business-news.thestreet.com/the-mercury/story/5-great-cities-for-gen-yers/11615700

The Silver Tsunami: Retiring Baby Boomers

An excellent article from the Lansdale Reporter about what impact the gigantic retiring Baby Boomer generation will have on cities.

As a Baby Boomer, I found this very interesting reading.  Learning how cities are coping with increasing senior populations is important to me and I thought it might be to others as well.

To read the article, click here:

http://hosted2.ap.org/PALAP/d3444c3add384b05a39deb3258f13309/Article_2011-07-10-Aging%20America-Age-Friendly%20Cities/id-cc6478c041d742a7a6ef226c7c57db29

Top 100 Pennsylvania Municipalities 2010 Census

Top 100 Pennsylvania Municipalities 2010 Census

Results include cities, boroughs, townships and municipalities.  Townships have codes beside them to indicate what major city they are near PHL (Philadelphia) HBG (Harrisburg) LANC (Lancaster) RDG (Reading) PGH (PIttsburgh) ABE (Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton).

TOP 100 PA Municipalities (out of 2,574)      Population 2010  Rank
Philadelphia city 1,526,006     1
Pittsburgh city 305,704     2
Allentown city 118,032     3
Erie city 101,786     4
Reading city 88,082     5
Upper Darby township (PHL) 82,795     6
Scranton city 76,089     7
Bethlehem city 74,982     8
Bensalem township (PHL) 60,427     9
Lancaster city 59,322    10
Lower Merion township (PHL) 57,825    11
Abington township (PHL) 55,310    12
Bristol township (PHL) 54,582    13
Millcreek township (Erie) 53,515    14
Harrisburg city 49,528    15
Haverford township (PHL) 48,491    16
Lower Paxton township (HBG) 47,360    17
Altoona city 46,320    18
Middletown township (PHL) 45,436    19
York city 43,718    20
Hempfield township (PGH) 43,241    21
Penn Hills township (PGH) 42,329    22
State College borough 42,034    23
Wilkes-Barre city 41,498    24
Northampton township (PHL) 39,726    25
Manheim township (LANC) 38,133    26
Cheltenham township (PHL) 36,793    27
Norristown borough 34,324    28
Falls township (PHL) 34,300    29
Chester city 33,972    30
Mount Lebanon township (PGH) 33,137    31
Warminster township (PHL) 32,682    32
Lower Makefield township (PHL) 32,559    33
Bethel Park municipality (PGH) 32,313    34
Radnor township (PHL) 31,531    35
Ross township (PGH) 31,105    36
Ridley township (PHL) 30,768    37
Lower Macungie township (ABE) 30,633    38
North Huntingdon township (PGH) 30,609    39
Williamsport city 29,381    40
Tredyffrin township (PHL) 29,332    41
Shaler township (PGH) 28,757    42
McCandless township (PGH) 28,457    43
Upper Merion township (PHL) 28,395    44
Monroeville municipality (PGH) 28,386    45
Cranberry township (PGH) 28,098    46
Hampden township (HBG) 28,044    47
York township (YORK) 27,793    48
Plum borough (PGH) 27,126    49
Spring township (RDG) 27,119    50
Easton city 26,800    51
Whitehall township (ABE) 26,738    52
Springettsbury township (YORK) 26,668    53
Horsham township (PHL) 26,147    54
Upper Dublin township (PHL) 25,569    55
Exeter township (RDG) 25,550    56
Lebanon city 25,477    57
Lower Providence township (PHL) 25,436    58
Hazleton city 25,340    59
Montgomery township (PHL) 24,790    60
Derry township (HBG) 24,679    61
Springfield township (PHL) 24,211    62
Moon township (PGH) 24,185    63
Susquehanna township (HBG) 24,036    64
Upper Moreland township (PHL) 24,015    65
Bethlehem township (ABE) 23,730    66
East Hempfield township (LANC) 23,522    67
Marple township (PHL) 23,428    68
Warrington township (PHL) 23,418    69
Swatara township (HBG) 23,362    70
New Castle city (PGH) 23,273    71
Unity township (PGH) 22,607    72
Pottstown borough 22,377    73
West Goshen township (PHL) 21,866    74
Upper Providence township (PHL) 21,219    75
Peters township (PGH) 21,213    76
Dover township (YORK) 21,078    77
Johnstown city 20,978    78
Palmer township (ABE) 20,691    79
Coolbaugh township (WB/S) 20,564    80
West Mifflin borough (PGH) 20,313    81
Chambersburg borough 20,268    82
East Pennsboro township (HBG) 20,228    83
Murrysville municipality (PGH) 20,079    84
Buckingham township (PHL) 20,075    85
Upper Macungie township (ABE) 20,063    86
Penn township (PGH) 20,005    87
Baldwin borough (PGH) 19,767    88
McKeesport city (PGH) 19,731    89
Muhlenberg township (RDG) 19,628    90
Manor township (LANC) 19,612    91
Springfield township (PHL) 19,418    92
Newtown township (PHL) 19,299    93
Upper St. Clair township (PGH) 19,229    94
Stroud township (Stroudsburg) 19,213    95
South Whitehall township (ABE) 19,180    96
Lower Southampton township (PHL) 18,909    97
West Manchester township (YORK) 18,894    98
Whitpain township (PHL) 18,875    99
Carlisle borough                                  18,682  

Lancaster And York: A Tale Of Two Cities

I just read a very interesting article from the York Daily Record comparing York and Lancaster.  I found the article very thought-provoking as a former Lancaster City and suburban Lancaster resident.  I also am somewhat familiar with York.

Of course, I will share my opinion with you since that IS what I do and offer some advice for York in the process.  There is a link at the bottom of this piece where you can read this article for yourself.

I must agree with Sonia Huntzinger, the Director of Downtown Inc. in York.  A comparison is not really fair.  Lancaster and York have some similarities and they are only about 30 miles apart, but that is about where it ends.  There are strategies York can use that Lancaster has already perfected and customize them for York, without reinventing the wheel.   BUT York must also embrace itself and be true to its own history.

The first thing that jumps out at me is that York needs to move on from its past.  Race riots in the late 60’s were 40 years ago and our nation and York have changed since then.  York was not the only city in America to have race riots and bad ones.  Pittsburgh had some humdingers and can anybody remember Watts!?!  But again, that is ancient history and holding on to a negative event from the past is unhealthy!  Let it go!

Secondly, York could be very successful and they are making great strides to that end.  Heritage Tourism in a historic city like York must be fully embraced.  It certainly worked for Lancaster and it will most certainly work for York.  Lancaster has been at this far longer so they are light years ahead of York because of a HUGE head start. 

More than 4 million people visit Lancaster each year as it is one of Pennsylvania’s largest tourist destinations.  York should piggy back on that phenomenon and say to those tourists visiting Lancaster, “Hey! Come on over!  York is only a short car ride away!”  It would enhance the experience for both 18th century cities.  (Lancaster being incorporated in 1742 and York being incorporated in 1787.)  If you take away the Amish factor, there are people who would be interested in touring another “period city” that nearby!

Thirdly, stop looking at each other as “foes” (White Rose vs. Red Rose) and look at each other as business partners.  Frankly, cooperation is a win-win for everybody.  That includes Harrisburg.  These three metropolitan areas are contiguous and should be marketed as a Triad like Winston-Salem, Greensboro & High Point, NC.  Between the Harrisburg, Lancaster and York metropolitan areas (latest population estimates) you have 536,919 HBG + 507,766 LANC + 424,583 YORK = 1,469,268 people!  This is a more accurate picture of what you really have to work with and market to. 

Leveraging all three areas as one tourist destination would totally make sense and everyone would benefit.  Combine resources folks!  Many hands make light work and all that.  From a financial prospective, during a recession, working together makes sense.  Combine budgets, cut costs and everyone benefits.

Fourth, I will disagree with Sonia Huntzinger on this point (no offense, Sonia).  She stated in the article that Central Pennsylvania can not support another arts district like Lancaster’s.  With a draw of 1,429,268 people you certainly can.  Furthermore, Harrisburg is going great guns in Midtown to set up a big arts community there as well (I guess they didn’t get the memo, haha).  Each city should have an individual, size appropriate, arts area.  The “arts” are a huge tool in the redevelopment process.

Fifth – “Eds and Meds” are vital to redevelopment.  I do not care if York Hospital and College are not downtown.  They are large employers and stakeholders whether they like it or not.  As downtown York prospers, so will they.  Scranton and Wilkes-Barre have made their colleges partners in their redevelopment.  A healthy York will help York College attract more students and help the hospital attract more young people as employees.  You want more young people downtown like Lancaster?  You must get the hospital and college onboard.

Sixth – the perceived safety issues in York need to be overcome.  Sorry but there are stabbings/shootings in Lancaster too.  Anybody who says not is delusional.  Lancaster has a lower crime rate than York because redevelopment does that.  In addition, Lancaster has a surveillance camera system in place and a noticeable police presence downtown.  Until York can get those numbers down, they need to beef up police foot patrols in the downtown to make people feel safer.  Those surveillance cameras only cost $9,000 a piece, installed.  They might be something for York to consider going forward.  Saying we have no money is not a solution.  Find money to pay for foot patrols and cameras.  There are grants out there.  You can not afford to not spend money on public safety if you want to be like Lancaster.  You must overcome the crime stigma yesterday!

Lastly, private sector funding is the wave of the future because of budget constraints with our state and federal governments.  There is still money available but finding ways to involve the private sector is becoming increasingly important.  Large employers in York County need to be made to understand the importance of “giving back” and that they will reap benefits by doing so.  Groups like YorIT will also play an increasing role in moving York forward (http://www.yorit.org/).

Here is a link to the article that spurred my post:

http://www.ydr.com/ci_17425140?source=rss_viewed

It is vital that Pennsylvania’s cities be robust and growing.

Pittsburgh Building Comprehensive Growth Plan With Participation From Thousands Of Residents

Duquesne University's view of the Pittsburgh s...

Image via Wikipedia

Pittsburgh is establishing a comprehensive growth plan to “right size” the city after years of population loss.  Year one has already been completed with thousands of residents taking part in helping to shape a way forward for Pennsylvania’s second largest city.

This plan, which is expected to be completed in 2014, will focus on the following areas in order:

Open spaces and parks – wrapping up

Cultural heritage and preservation – up and running

The next ten have yet to be started:

Transportation

Public art

Design

Energy

City-owned buildings

Infrastructure

Economic development

Housing

Education

Zoning

Land Use

The Pittsburgh planning department is enthusiastically seeking participation from city residents!  The cost of this long-range plan is $2.3 million dollars.  Cities are not required to submit comprehensive plans but they can opt to do so.  Only a handful of cities have done this.  Pittsburgh is once again being a leading innovator in their approach to managed growth and sustainability.

These components were not accidentally chosen.  Open space is first because vacant land use will influence every other category on the list.  Pittsburgh has 5,500 acres of open space.   Half is parks and 14,000 vacant lots make up the rest.  Pittsburgh realizes that green space has an impact on property values.

These meetings last two hours and are held on various nights and in several locations around Pittsburgh to maximize citizen involvement.

Pittsburgh is consistently ranked as one of America’s most livable cities.