Friday, February 13, 2009

Urban Pairs

I've been overwhelmed with good reading this week. Lots of stuff about world city geography and the global economic crisis. However, The Urbanophile gets post of the week:

Richard Florida just issued a call in this month's Atlantic Monthly to build "rail connectivity within the mega-regions. There are the fast trains along the Boston/New York/Washington corridor that have allowed Washington, in effect, to become a commuter suburb of greater New York. But how about a place like Detroit? If Detroit were better connected to Chicago, one could imagine Detroit having a better reason for existing. Or Pittsburgh. If Pittsburgh were better connected to Chicago or even to Washington, D.C.—it’s only a four-hour drive—that could spur growth." I won't use his example cities, but will assume in our example that we've got high speed rail between Chicago and Milwaukee and Chicago and Indy that provides a terminal to terminal journey time of 90 minutes. In the case of Milwaukee, this is actually already true - future rail upgrades will only shave that time down even further.

Both Florida and Renn (Urbanophile) recommend that promising second tier cities better connect with a world class city. The next generation of rail is considered to be instrumental to building a functional globalization infrastructure. Who should your city pair up with in order to best promote economic development?

At the eastern end of the Midwest, Pittsburgh is a facinating case. Money flowing from the current stimulus will likely fix the Burgh as one end of some yet-to-be-named high-speed rail initiative. Florida offers up Chicago or Washington, DC. Earlier today, I read about a Pittsburgh-NYC pairing. Regardless, Pittsburgh will be the intermediary between the Midwest mega-region and the Bos-Wash corridor. And you can bet that Cleveburgh will want a piece of that action.

The Mahoning Valley shatterbelt is coming to the fore and Pittsburgh's stategic geographic position is reaffirmed.

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