INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF URBAN AND REGIONAL RESEARCH (2016)
Recent studies of public space in US central cities tend to focus either on (1) market-driven placemaking (privatized parks, hipster shops) in gentrifying enclaves
or (2) street cultures (community gardens, hip-hop) in low-income neighborhoods. Neither focus adequately frames the ability of African Americans to shape public space as the white middle class returns to central cities. In this case study of downtown Detroit, I theorize a dialectic: the history of clashes between racial capitalism and social movements in public space reappears in the contradictory design of market-driven placemaking, which suppresses and displays cultures of resistance. White business and real-estate interests showcase downtown spaces to counter news of disinvestment and suffering in low-income neighborhoods. The legal and political legacies of civil rights and black power struggles–– combined with consumer demand (black culture sells)––force them to involve black entrepreneurs, professionals and artists in placemaking. This placemaking subordinates the black urban poor, even as it incorporates their street cultures. The contradictions of placemaking shape possibilities for resistance, as shown in mundane subversions and street protests that use the downtown spotlight to call for social justice citywide. This analysis contributes to research on public space at a time when new movements are challenging public order in the financial core of US cities.
Mooney, S. J., Bader, M. D. M., Lovasi, G. S., Neckerman, K. M., Rundle, A. G., & Teitler, J. O.
Ordinary kriging, a spatial interpolation technique, is commonly used in social sciences to estimate neighborhood attributes such as physical disorder. Universal kriging, developed and used in physical sciences, extends ordinary kriging by supplementing the spatial model with additional covariates. We measured physical disorder on 1,826 sampled block faces across four U.S. cities (New York, Philadelphia, Detroit, and San Jose) using Google Street View imagery. We then compared leave-one-out cross-validation accuracy between universal and ordinary kriging and used random subsamples of our observed data to explore whether universal kriging could provide equal measurement accuracy with less spatially dense samples. Universal kriging did not always improve accuracy. However, a measure of housing vacancy did improve estimation accuracy in Philadelphia and Detroit (7.9 percent and 6.8 percent lower root mean square error, respectively) and allowed for equivalent estimation accuracy with half the sampled points in Philadelphia. Universal kriging may improve neighborhood measurement.
The ground floors of buildings are a key element of the urban experience, yet the dynamics that shape frontages are largely unknown. This article delves into the forces and patterns behind the transforming relationship between architecture and public space in Western urban cores over the past century. After defining a methodology for structurally measuring the interactivity of ground floor frontages over time, the study focuses on two case study urban cores of Detroit, Michigan and The Hague, Netherlands. Through a combination of narra- tive historiography, detailed mapping and statistical studies a set of recommendations is generated to help urban designers and planners better understand and counter frontage decline. The two seemingly disparate cities are demonstrated to have undergone remarkably similar patterns of frontage interactivity erosion, with outcomes diverging as a result of an often reinforcing set of forces. Only upon understanding frontages as social, economic, cultural, political and technological constructs with physical, functional and connotative effects on public space will the profession be able to effectively steer the future of the architecture of public life.
Nolan E. Phillips, Brian L. Levy, Robert J. Sampson, Mario L. Small & Ryan Q. Wang
The social integration of a city depends on the extent to which people from different neighborhoods have the opportunity to interact with one another, but most prior work has not developed formal ways of conceptualizing and measuring this kind of connectedness. In this article, we develop original, network-based measures of what we call “structural connectedness” based on the everyday travel of people across neighborhoods. Our principal index captures the extent to which residents in each neighborhood of a city travel to all other neighborhoods in equal proportion. Our secondary index captures the extent to which travels within a city are concentrated in a handful of receiving neighborhoods. We illustrate the value of our indices for the 50 largest American cities based on hundreds of millions of geotagged tweets over 18 months. We uncover important features of major American cities, including the extent to which their connectedness depends on a few neighborhood hubs, and the fact that in several cities, contact between some neighborhoods is all but nonexistent. We also show that cities with greater population densities, more cosmopolitanism, and less racial segregation have higher levels of structural connectedness. Our indices can be applied to data at any spatial scale, and our measures pave the way for more powerful and precise analyses of structural connectedness and its effects across a broad array of social phenomena.