Cities: Rather Than Patronizing Young People, Give Them What They Ask For

This story is a repost from the excellent Cleveland base urbanism blog Rustwire .  Rustwire is one of the best blogs written today on American cities, often cutting straight to the truth that no one is talking about.  This story was written about Cleveland but, just change the city name to Buffalo and it is quite relevant to Western New York.  It deals with keeping young talent from fleeing to greener pastures and the foibles of a clueless leadership in that pursuit. The issues in Cleveland are virtually the same as in Buffalo.  

This story puts it bluntly.  As nice and great and misunderstood as Cleveland (Buffalo) is, it is not as good as it should be and is often not as good as the places that people are fleeing too.  There I said it.  Buffalo is not that great.  That is not to say it isn’t a great place to be.  But, to keep youthful talent Buffalo and its leadership need to know what kind of city younger generations want and then give it to them.  Saying Buffalo is a great under rated place is not enough. Here is a hint.  More parking lots and demolition of unique places is not going to do it.  Current demographics are showing that younger generations are not looking for mom and dad’s car oriented lifestyle. Sure, jobs are important but guess what? Jobs go where people want to be. People will never be attracted to Buffalo because of its abundance of great cheap parking. Read on and see what I mean – Rustwire:

Nothing makes me roll my eyes like a civic campaign aimed at attracting young people. 

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a worthy cause. It’s just that 90 percent of the time, the way they are executed ranges from cluelessly patronizing to counter productive to outright embarrassing. 

In one example that really sticks in my mind the guilty party was Columbus, Ohio. Perhaps eight years ago the city got some kind of grant and they spent $30,000 to have some self-styled “Gen Y” expert come tell them how they could retain and attract young people. All I could think was why didn’t they just ask they young people that live there what they want and maybe put the $30,000 toward that?

Lesser and greater crimes have been committed by cities and states across the industrial Midwest and beyond — each one grasping for some special, elusive formula that entrances young people: drawing them in, making them stay put. And 90 percent of them are good for a few laughs at best.

The city of Cleveland — you knew that was coming, didn’t you? — is working on a new one of these babies right now. There is a new initiative called Global Cleveland and it started out as some kind of civic effort to attract immigrants. But one of the major goals of this initiative apparently, is also to attract “boomerangers” back to Cleveland. Boomerangers, you see, are youngish, well-educated people that split for places like New York and DC. For some reason, these guys have been identified as “winnable” and Global Cleveland’s working on promoting a wholesale reversal.

Now, admittedly, I don’t know a ton about Global Cleveland. But what I do know about it, has prompted some reflexive eye-rolling on my part. Here’s what I’ve heard they’ve been doing: hosting focus groups with actual “boomerangers,” writing a blog telling prospective “boomerangers” how great Cleveland is, and they have done sort of a media campaign. See: Rust Belt Chic article in Salon.

So okay. What’s wrong with that you are probably wondering? Why does that make the author — a Cleveland young pro of the coveted variety — want to bang her head against the nearest hard object? They are ASKING young people what they want, sort of. Blogs ARE cool — as we all know. But as a Millennial who actually moved to Cleveland on my own free will without family attachments — I think they are missing the mark badly.

The biggest problem for me is that this campaign seems to rely on the assumption that this blog has devoted itself to counteracting: a myth, narrative, or whatever, so well-worn, so beloved by Clevelanders. That is the myth that Cleveland is a great place to live — better than other places even — and that our real problem is not one of the many obvious shortcomings frequently mentioned in the national press, but a woeful and incorrect “image problem.”

This is a narrative that everyone in Cleveland LOVES. This is a narrative that if you challenge — people will insult you personally and fiercely. Challenging the notion that Cleveland is inherently superior to other places, as crazy as it may sound to those outside the rust belt, makes you sort of a political dissident here.

But I think it is wrong, convenient but wrong. I think it is favored because it requires nothing of us. It indulges our delusional vanities and nurses our wounded egos. Now, don’t get me wrong, I agree that Cleveland has its charms. The art museum, the metroparks, the lake, etc. But look, all cities have assets.

The problem for Cleveland is the net package of assets and shortcomings that Cleveland represents is not compelling enough right now to attract young people, immigrants whatever, they way they are in places like San Francisco, New York, Boston.

So, this is a totally radical position for some odd reason and a bunch of people are probably going to attack me in the comments for even saying it. But why on earth doesn’t Cleveland try to be more like New York, or Boston or San Francisco?

I’m serious. There is not a secret formula. The places that are succeeding, they aren’t making a riddle of their methods. They are working very hard to make their environments hospitable to young people. How are they doing that? Through a whole movement called “livability.”

What is livability? Well it incorporates a whole bunch of things: bustling sidewalks, community spaces. But if I had to summarize it succinctly, I would say it is the freedom to get around and lead a fulfilling life without a car. This is exactly what New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and a handful of other cities that are winning the young-people-attracting game are focused on.

Jeff Speck — author of Suburban Nation — wrote in his recent book Walkable City:

A small number of forward-thinking cities are gobbling up the loin’s share of post-teen suburbanites and empty nesters with the wherewithal to live where they want, while most midsized American cities go hungry.

He continues:

Even New York and San Francisco sometimes get things wrong, but they will continue to poach the country’s best and brightest unless our other, more normal cities can learn from their successes while avoiding their mistakes.

Now, I know what you are about to say. You are about to say “but!! But!!! Cleveland doesn’t have as much money as New York.” Or even worse: “What works in New York won’t work in Cleveland!!” To which I say, nonsense!

Young creatives crave walkable urban places. I am one of them. And believe it or not that is the major reason I moved to Cleveland. Cleveland has been blessed, by nature of its old age, with a relatively walkable built environment and even a decent transit system. But somehow Cleveland’s can’t recognize that this is its greatest asset. It continues suburbanizing the city — to a greater or lesser extent — and it embarks on a new marketing campaign to tell the world it’s not nearly as bad here as everyone thinks.

Or what about when the city of Cleveland wanted to tear down a historic downtown building and replace it with a parking garage? And hundreds of young people expressed opposition? Again right there, young people who live in Cleveland were expressing their preferences very clearly: they want a dense, walkable downtown — not a car repository for suburbanites. Again, that is the moment the city had a chance to win the hearts and loyalty of young people, but again, young people’s clearly expressed preferences were outweighed by those of a favored developer.Example: If 75 young people show up at a public meeting and demand a bike lane: there — right there is part of your answer. Cleveland’s existing young people want bike lanes. But somehow, in the actual hierarchy of city priorities, 75 young people’s wishes rank far, far behind those of favored developers. A young professional attraction campaign that tackled that problem: that would be a campaign I could get behind.

If Cleveland is losing young people to other cities, the correct response is to look at what is attractive about those places and emulate them to the extent that we can — and I think we can in a big way. New York has Jeanette Sadik-Khan and pedestrian plazas. Chicago has Gabe Klein and cycle tracks. Those are the young professional attraction mechanisms in those cities — they are city employees empowered to make real changes to the built environment. And they are killing us, while we fumble for our own solution, or deny that we have a problem.

A least, that’s the way I see it, and it’s painful to watch.

-A.S

DSC01272.JPG

*Images are my own of Madison Wisconsin and are not from the original story.  Madison is a delightful walkable and vibrant urban city.  


About the author  ⁄ WCPerspective

Buffalo and development junkie currently exiled in California.

124 comments
whatever
whatever

BRL>"taxes are unlikely to be a factor for the vast majority of us"

Ok, and 'the vast majority of us' never hire & employ even one full-time employee either. Not to mention multiple employees. People either work for the govt (which as a practical matter can employ only some) or they depend on some often-'greedy' employer.

If we compare recent decades of total job growth in say Tennessee, N. Carolina, New Hampshire, Georgia, etc - all states with very different govt policies than NYS - to that of metro areas in WNY or Upstate NY … it's a pretty stark difference. The question isn't whether tax policy is the only major factor in that (there's also others like those I mentioned before - weather, laws/regulations, etc), but is it one major factor?

Not a small potion of the 99% will include their perceived career opportunities as one major factor among several when choosing where to move.

So while tax policy might not be a direct factor for most people, not all factors are direct.

bung
bung

A lot of the southern city growth is weather related because it’s nice and warm. Go south the wages are generally not as good the schools are awful outside major cities. The better schools are in the cities where the northerners have moved to. Housing and taxes are lower is some cases but, you end up paying in other ways. Go to Georgia your auto registration is based on the value of your car you could be paying $100s of dollars a year registration. Move to Florida or any other southern coastal area and you’ll pay $1000 per year for hurricane insurance or $2000 a year if you live in the trailer park. That’s why a lot of people don’t get hurricane insurance. That’s why they go crying to the federal government every time there house gets washed out. So the high tax paying northern states end up paying to bail them out. To get political now the more southern republican a state is, the more government welfare it receives.

bung
bung

But,I would have to admit University Circle, Little Italy, has really cleaned up since I lived there in the mid. `80s. Even Coventry Ave., where we used to skate and drink quarts of Genny before the Rocky Horror Picture show back in the day. Even today city center is still a mess, a sea of mostly closed parking ramps unless a game is going on. The drivers are still clueless, as for cycling you might as well cycle down the 33 in the wrong direction you would have about the same chance of survival.

Black Rock Lifer
Black Rock Lifer

I accepted your "most growing" point, my point is that most people (except maybe the 1% and other greedy types) don't let taxes get in the way of their dreams and aspirations. People move to places they believe will meet their needs and desires, taxes are unlikely to be a factor for the vast majority of us.

https://me.yahoo.com/a/7r.ulAow3ZiLTuva8wa9MHJkOkM
https://me.yahoo.com/a/7r.ulAow3ZiLTuva8wa9MHJkOkM

One difference between Buffalo and Cleveland: Clevelanders are still in denial about their troubles (perhaps because so many of them live so far out in the suburbs that they don't view the city's issues as their issues).

Buffalonians KNOW Buffalo has a problem, even if they can't agree about what to do about it or what caused it.

whatever
whatever

BRL, despite their title, I don't think it's hair splitting for this BR discussion because as my previous link showed, NYC's growth figures are so low in % (under 3% over 10 years) that the raw number increase is traced to the birthrate of its 8M people there - not by increasing adults who are choosing where to live.

Among adults migrating among places, NYC has actually in recent years been losing some on a net basis as that link described, and this other one shows too

http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/up-front/posts/2011/10/28-young-adults-frey

At the above in tables under the maps, it shows that among young adults 25-34 the NYC population dropped by 47,000 from 2005-'07 (before Recession start) and again by losing another 22,000 more in 2008-'10 (after Recession start).

NYC and LA both declined among 25-34 year olds during both intervals.

Cities which gained among 25-34 year olds during both intervals include Dallas, Houston, and Portland.

On your point about tax policy - well, I don't think many people would deny that it's one big factor in how much growth/decline happens in jobs & population. Even lefties such as Spitzer and Cuomo have said they think it's one big factor.

Of course there's other factors too including other laws & regulations, and climate/weather, natural geography & resources, historic presence of certain industries (finance in NYC, tech in Silicon Valley, etc.), and others.

But if you want to argue that tax policy isn't one major factor involved at all, you're free to.

EAHS 1972
EAHS 1972

No vacant houses in PDX? Ever been to Killingsworth/Albertina neighborhood or anyplace in NE Portland? Ever been out by Parkrose High School, or in Gresham? You like the scum that hangs out at Pioneer Park downtown, or down by the Skidmore Fountain?

Portland's a nice city, unless you have kids and can't afford a place like Central Catholic or Jesuit. You'd send your kids to Jefferson or Grant or Marshall or Madison High? Why do you think Clackamas and Washington counties are growing so fast? It's families getting the hell out of PDX as fast as they can.

And good luck finding a house for less than $250K, or a decent place to rent.

JSmith
JSmith

Amherst has a fairly strong mixed use zoning code for their older "downtown" areas like Snyder and Eggertsville. And Williamsville has recently been in the news for trying to improve the walkable village feel of Main Street.

nick
nick

I don't fault you, good for you for being happy in Buffalo, you're already there, there are thousands of young people from Buffalo, like myself who are not! I'm not saying I couldn't be happy in Buffalo, I'd love to have a big house off of Elmwood which would cost less than my 800sf trinity here in Philly. I also appreciate the opportunities of being a small fish in a big pond, rather than a big fish in a small pond. It's Cal Ripken baseball versus Little League, it's UB versus Penn. Just my take.

Dan
Dan

Travelrrr> I was in Austin not too long ago and I have to say I was quite underwhelmed--not only by the built environment (Charlotte much?), but by the lack of authenticity and vibe

I think highly of Austin's appeal to youth, and the fact that civic leaders there "get it", for the most part. Their built environment, though? Awful. Austin was a small town before WWII, and there's very little "old urbanism". 1950s-era suburbs, the equivalent of the Cleveland Hill or Englewood areas, are experiencing massive gentrification. Imagine a strip plaza with tattoo parlors, indie record stores, resale boutiques, skate shops, and hole-in-the-wall hipster bars where you'll be the first to hear that band everybody will soon love to hate because they sold out and bought some recording studio time, and you've got Hyde Park, North Loop, Lamar, etc.

Enjoy some Austin-style neighborhood urbanism.

http://www.cyburbia.org/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/25668/title/austin-2c-texas-3a-east-side/cat/6200

http://www.cyburbia.org/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/25271/title/austin-2c-texas-3a-north-loop/cat/6200

http://www.cyburbia.org/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/25265/title/austin-2c-texas-3a-north-loop/cat/6200

http://www.cyburbia.org/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/25187/title/austin-2c-texas-3a-south-congress-avenue2f-soco/cat/6200

http://www.cyburbia.org/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/25207/title/austin-2c-texas-3a-south-congress-avenue2f-soco/cat/6200

http://www.cyburbia.org/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/25214/title/austin-2c-texas-3a-south-congress-avenue2f-soco/cat/6200

http://www.cyburbia.org/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/25240/title/austin-2c-texas-3a-south-congress-avenue2f-soco/cat/6200

http://www.cyburbia.org/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/25264/title/austin-2c-texas-3a-north-loop/cat/6200

http://www.cyburbia.org/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/25268/title/austin-2c-texas-3a-north-loop/cat/6200

http://www.cyburbia.org/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/25258/title/austin-2c-texas-3a-north-loop/cat/6200

http://www.cyburbia.org/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/23625/title/austin-3a-south-1st-street/cat/6200

http://www.cyburbia.org/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/24396/title/austin-2c-texas-3a-guadalupe-street-the-drag/cat/6200

http://www.cyburbia.org/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/24398/title/austin-2c-texas-3a-guadalupe-street-the-drag/cat/6200

A thread on Cyburbia that is very critical of Austin's built environment:

http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showthread.php?t=38418

Thing is, civic leaders in the Austin area are now beginning to turn their backs on Texas-style sprawl. Austin and many of its suburbs are very aggressive on changing the form of future development, and retrofitting areas that were developed with cars in mind. I was the planning director for a fast-growing Austin suburb, and we adopted a locally calibrated version of the SmartCode, and a very strict conventional but form-leaning zoning code that I wrote. Would any of Buffalo's suburbs even think about consider zoning that allows any kind of urbanism, or even basic architectural design or basic site planning standards?

brownteeth
brownteeth

By your logic Buffalo should be a better place to be a "striver". There's unlimited opportunities here for anyone looking to go beyond the basic 9-5 job, white picket fence and 2.3 kids lifestyle. Of course you have to figure out your niche but the opportunity is there for the taking.

Forgive me if I'm wrong about you, but it sounds as if your resentful towards people like r129 and myself who managed to get ahead of the game at a relatively younger age. I have noticed that many younger folks from Buffalo who move away seem to feel like they're conceding in some way if they move back. I used to feel that way myself. Then I realized it's stupid to beg for scraps in a large city when I could have the whole pie to myself here.

More power to you if you want to make it harder in a larger city but don't fault us for going straight for the jugular with what we want.

Travelrrr
Travelrrr

I am not convinced that Buffalo isn't becoming the next "indie band, phone app, food truck city" to watch. Young people ARE moving back to Buffalo--I am eager to see the next Census numbers--and/or are eager to stay--for the first time in decades.

Honestly--I am seeing Buffalo change before my eyes. I agree that is has been long known as a "great place to raise kids"--however, there is quite a burgeoning singles network, and the pressure to "settle down" and "raise a family" seems to be subsiding a bit.

What I find interesting about Buffalo, is that a lot of socializing happens around philanthropy/social activism; want to meet a date, join the Young Preservationists, Sugar City, Emerging Leaders of Artists, etc. Or, if it doesn't currently exist, start a group of your own--very easy to do in Buffalo.

I was in Austin not too long ago and I have to say I was quite underwhelmed--not only by the built environment (Charlotte much?), but by the lack of authenticity and vibe (which, admittedly, might be getting wiped out by the sheer growth--140k people move there annually, so it is bound to have a gentrifying effect (it's hard to "keep Austin weird" at that growth rate.....) Now, I am sure I would have a different take if I were there for SXSW.....

Travelrrr
Travelrrr

Ummm......I think you might want to a) get a new group of friends in Buffalo (particularly ones who use the internet) and b) who are changing Buffalo--they abound.

Also, hasn't Portland's unemployment rate been hovering at around 18%?

I know it is a great city, and one from which Buffalo could/should take some cues, but it does have its issues....and, your perspective on Buffalo frankly seems somewhat skewed. Give new Buffalo a chance--it is changing.

gpod
gpod

Moved to Portland, OR, twelve years ago and sometimes entertain the idea of moving back to be closer to family. Then I visit, and just go, "Ugh." The urban blight is just disgusting. 20,000 vacant, dilapidated houses???? Portland is 3x the size of Bflo and we have NONE. That's right, NONE. And NO vacancies downtown. Not one vacant storefront anywhere.

I can see by the huge number of comments there is a lot of love for Buffalo. I love it, too, but only to visit. There is definitely a leadership void. I can have any career I want in Portland. What few jobs are available in Bflo, are very limiting.

Portland is dependent on high tech. Intel, Epson, HP, Microsoft, Kyocera, Boeing, are the big employers. Nobody outside of Buffalo wants anything produced in Buffalo. Except the salt of the earth people, of course.

I can't tell you how many people I know in Buffalo STILL aren't on the internet!!!!!!

I don't know what the solution is...but I can tell you what the problem is. It isn't taxes, it isn't "Albany," - the problem with buffalo is also one of its assetts - it's people. I've never met such a backwards thinking person who puts all their effort into resisting change as a Buffalonian.

Nothing will ever change in Buffalo until the mondset of its people change.

EricOak
EricOak

I wish I could agree with you, Dan, but thanks for being reasonable. I just don't see why we can't let cities be different from each other. Really different. That's what I find baffling about your assessment of Buffalo life. If some people-- young, middle years, or older-- choose not to live in an indie band, phone app, food truck city, does that make their city less meaningful or valuable? If some people choose to live in a city--say Buffalo--that offers a perfect cocktail of high culture, not so high culture, and beautiful scale, why denigrate their choice? Maybe you're right, and the herds of young people want to live in the indie, hipster, food truck cities. I'm fine with that. Let them live there, happily, and let other people live in Buffalo or Cleveland, happily. Different places for different folks. If you dislike Buffalo, you need to live somewhere else or make it what you want. I don't like or understand the culture you describe, but I don't look down on anyone for living anywhere. You do...and you're smarter than that. You're a cosmopolitan person, and cosmopolitan people remember that people are different, places are different, and you never belittle anyone.

By the way, this is my hometown, not my adopted city. New York was exhausting after several years, living in Toronto was like living in a cold beehive, couldn't stay in Europe...so I drifted home to Buffalo, where I met the smartest people I had ever known, doing the most interesting work, amidst the most aching beauty, in a once grand city in crisis. It was too good to resist. I'm sorry you haven't seen that treasure here, and that it all just amounts to "pizza and Queen Anne's" for you. I say this because you seem smart and maybe you'll pause and let Buffalo be its own city, unlike any other city--they way it should be. Can't say this to Steel--he's too fundamentalist, doesn't listen, it's like trying to argue with John the Baptist. But maybe you're malleable. Be even smarter than you are...always be wary of the herd.

r129
r129

I'm not quite sure that I understand what a "striver" is, but just because you're relatively comfortable by 30 doesn't mean that you've stopped advancing in life, or that you're preparing to settle down and start a family. To me, living in Buffalo is not just about the Bills, the Sabres, chicken wings, or red sauce restaurants. It's about socializing with interesting people, music, art, theater, good food, plenty of opportunity for outdoor recreation, and lots of unique treasures. All of these things are so easily accessible, and most importantly, I have the time to enjoy them.

r129
r129

I'm not quite sure that I understand what a "striver" is, but just because you're relatively comfortable by 30 doesn't mean that you've stopped advancing in life, or that you're preparing to settle down and start a family. To me, living in Buffalo is not just about the Bills, the Sabres, chicken wings, or red sauce restaurants. It's about socializing with interesting people, music, art, theater, good food, plenty of opportunity for outdoor recreation, and lots of unique treasures. All of these things are so easily accessible, and most importantly, I have the time to enjoy them.

Buffalo All Star
Buffalo All Star

When you are a striver and like to compete? First its hard to get jobs here..then its not competitive? (Limited number of good jobs, you'd assume competition would be more intense in Buffalo then Philly or NYC) Building assets and having cash in the bank are detriment?

WOW..its comments like that which contribute to the poor stereotypes of Millennials. Who says you have to settle down??..building assets is detrimental..think about that comment there for a 2nd. I'm Millennial as well and I'm concerned we're going to be more asset-less than the baby boomers. Its the poor person with that must live in metro-overpriced rich person playground-ville attitude thats the laughable.

If theres one I wouldn't trade for the world its that Buffalo isn't the cutthroat environment of your larger cities.

Fact of the matter is your comment and a lot of the others illustrate the "good job dicotomy" that Buffalo faces.. we do have good jobs (not vast ##'s like NYC or Chicago..in every field you could dream of)but to many people a good paying job that comes with lower costs to live is not good because its in Buffalo. Weird.

Dan
Dan

> When OKCupid is your barometer for meaning, you might fail to notice the rest of life that goes on.

Young people generally want to make friends with others their age, date, have sex, and eventually get married and raise a family. Usually, they want to pursue those activities with other young adults with a similar level of education, and shared interests. If there are few people like them where they live, or they can't find others to date, they may go elsewhere.

OkCupid is extremely popular with young, educated singles under 40. It can be used as an indicator of how many younger adults might be in a city, and the vibrancy of its social and dating scene.

Despite its friendly reputation, Buffalo has a reputation as a town where it can be challenging to meet other people and make new friends as an adult. Rust Belt cities in general can be hard to break into socially, compared to growing cities, because the vast majority of residents are natives with established circles of friends that date back to elementary and high school, and there's few newcomers. Rust Belt cities like Buffalo and Cleveland are also thought of as places where locals tend to marry at a young age, resulting in a much smaller dating pool for those who may be 25 and older. Ethnic insularity isn't nearly as bad as it was in the 1980s and before, but it can also be limiting; "My Dad will kill me if he finds out I"m dating someone who's not Irish."

I understand your sentiment and affection towards your adopted city, but it really isn't shared by those who are leaving. Literary circles, WNED-FM, the Buffalo Philharmonic, the Albright-Knox, and "authenticity" are priceless assets, but they aren't going to keep the young ones at home. Cleveland has OUTSTANDING high culture, what is arguably the best orchestra in the nation, more chamber music groups than I can count, a vibrant theater scene, a professional opera company, and world-class museums and galleries, and it's bleeding its young to cities where hipster indie bands and food trucks rule the day. 6th Street and Emo's beat University Circle and Severance Hall, at least for Millennials.

whatever
whatever

Rand - while I share your disagreement with what Cam's comment said, yours goes too far in the other direction when saying "Buffalo would fall off the fiscal cliff if it were to leave."

In that wild hypothetical of "leaving", it would depend where Buffalo/WNY went and how it decided to govern.

Yes, more govt $ comes to Buffalo/WNY from Albany than Buffalo/WNY sends to there (despite the common misconception Cam repeated).

However, that's a very incomplete summary of the relationship.

Along with positive cash flow thanks to NYC, there's also a very big set of NY state laws, regulations, impacts of taxes, etc. - significantly different from even other northern states like Ohio, PA, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, etc

It can be argued whether that's negative or positive depending on anyone's politics, but it has big impacts.

You mentioned our city & county govts here as being "in receivership". Even if that hyperbole was true, much of its cause would be Albany-mandated spending and labor laws our city & county govts wouldn't have in any other state.

It also affects the business environment. For one example, why does Honda have several factories and 1000's of jobs in Ohio, but zero anywhere in NY state?

Other midsized cities the northern U.S. have survived ok without being in the same state as NYC.

On the smaller side - Erie, Toledo, Grand Rapids, etc.

On the larger side - Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Milwaukee, etc.

If history had somehow put Buffalo in a different state than NYC is in, or if NYC was its own separate state, many things would be different for Buffalo/WNY - we can never know - but I don't see any reason to think Buffalo/WNY would necessarily be fallen of any fiscal cliff merely because it isn't in the same state as NYC.

whatever
whatever

Confirming what I speculated yesterday -

the "growth" in NYC is very small and due to its net positive birth/death rate outpacing its net negative migration to/from other places.

http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/census/popcur.shtml

"The most recent estimates from the Census Bureau indicate the following:

a) Positive natural increase – more births than deaths added more than 84,000 persons to New York City's population between April of 2010 and July of 2011.

b) An overall net migration loss of 14,300 persons, the result of a negative net domestic migration loss of 74,400 persons, largely offset by a gain of 60,100 persons through net international migration. While immigration continues to support the city's population, the net loss through domestic migration is below levels seen in most of the last decade.

While estimates of net migration are difficult to calculate for the last decade because of issues surrounding the accuracy of the 2010 Census count, it appears that is the annual net migration losses in the most recent Census Bureau estimate are lower than in the earlier years of the last decade. …"

And the Census estimates that NYC had even larger losses in net migration in the 2000-2010 decade (last sentence in excerpt above).

So, NYC's population "gain" (which as a % is very small, under 3% total over 10 years) is indeed due to its number of births being high enough to overcome its _losses_ in migration.

In other words, more people are leaving NYC than moving in, although not by as many as the birth/death difference.

(it's the NYC gov website saying it, not me - no shooting the messenger, lol)

EricOak
EricOak

That's a nice comment.

EricOak
EricOak

When OKCupid is your barometer for meaning, you might fail to notice the rest of life that goes on.

No_Illusions
No_Illusions

Um...the answer is pretty simple. Its in another country. Those companies want to enter the Canadian market and the only serious competition Toronto has is Vancouver and Montreal.

Those same companies wishing to enter the US market however have NYC, LA, Chicago, plus many many other places before they would even think about Buffalo.

However, you are right. There is some spill over from Lower Ontario. Buffalo is a prime location for Canadian companies based in Toronto to enter the US market. And international companies who want their American and Canadian headquarters close together. We just need to better market ourselves as much.

EricOak
EricOak

I was trying to enlarge the scope a little, but that doesn't go over well here.

Also, there might be more to the livability equation than life without a car--as a young person noted in this thread:

"There is no right or wrong answer to where anyone wants to live and why. There are so many factors that go into it."

That's a wiser comment than anything you or I have said.

brownteeth
brownteeth

I don't fail to realize that. That's why I want those things in the city. I would like to rely on my car less, but not completely. That's my personal preference and also why Buffalo works better for me than you.

I would love to see the 190 & 33 removed or at least many of the off ramps. I would love to undo sprawl and the false notion that parking is a problem in the city. I just think it will be more likely to bring the "suburban" retailers into the city than it will be to remove all the infrastructure that killed the city. I think that retail would also provide jobs for many college students thus keeping them in the city, at least while in school. That would also help draw tourists, primarily Canadians to spend time and money in the city.

nick
nick

Speaking as a young professional who has looked at returning home but remains in Philadelphia, I think some of the things people write as positives "ease of living, low cost housing, ability to be set and have cash in the bank at 30" are actually detrimental to a significant cross section of young professionals, and I don't mean those just out of undergraduate education. It's great to settle down and have a family, but what happens when you are a striver? What about those who enjoy competition? Not everyone just looks to be financially stable and ready to have kids and settle down. Not everyone is just happy having a hockey and football team in the league. There needs to be a greater emphasis on moving forward and demanding better or else many of those young professionals will continue to move to locations where there is a greater chance to achieve.

brownteeth
brownteeth

I am in the exact same boat as you and about the same age. I too kind of fell into my career but I made the most of it and have a lot to show for it. I also agree that many recent college grads have an unrealistic view of employment right after college. A degree doesn't guarantee, and shouldn't, a high paying job in your field right away. I've noticed a lot of them feel entitled to it. I feel you have to earn it from the bottom up and if that means taking a low paying job to get your foot in the door so be it. That experience cannot be taught in school regardelss of your field.

Buffalo is that kind of city. You definitely have to earn your keep to achieve the goals most strive for all their lives in bigger cities, but if you do it you can live a pretty decent lifestyle here and do so by the age of 30.

Black Rock Lifer
Black Rock Lifer

Your looking in the wrong places, women with "class" are not on Chippewa or likely to be found in the "singles scene". You need to look at work, in your community, or join a group of some sort. I would also avoid referring to potential partners as "young hot women", sounds kind of shallow, might scare the classy ones away. Just some free advice from an old master :)

Black Rock Lifer
Black Rock Lifer

The link I posted from City Mayors Statistics is clearly titled "The Fastest Growing US Cities" ranked 1-100. LA is #1 and NY is #2. I think you are splitting hairs to argue "most growing" is more approprate but I will accept that. My point was that taxes have little to do with the success or failure of our cities.

Up and coming
Up and coming

I agree. Buffalo seriously lacks the type of single scene that any young professional male is looking for. I go to other cities all the time and everywhere I go is packed with young hot women. You go out in Buffalo and you see the same Chippewa trash, or some girl drinking Labatt Blue like it's her life blood. How about some girls with class, that know how to dress.

Dan
Dan

Buffalo All Star> In Buffalo, making a decent wage..owning your home/condo..spending your weekends eating mediocre italian food in restaurants with a seemingly endless amount of senior citizens?

I think a lot of the "It's all about jobs!" posters underestimate the desire to be around one's peers. Yes, there's a lot of young, educated professionals in Elmwood Village and Allentown, and in North Buffalo to some extent, but they're enclaves surrounded by Old Buffalo.

An experiment for armchair demographers: set up a free account on OkCupid. Set your age between 25 and 35. Do a search for members of the gender you're most attracted to, one year older and one year younger, who have logged in within the past week, in a 10 mile radius of 14222. Next, try the same thing for 78704 (South Austin), 97209 (Portland - Nob Hill), 30305 (Atlanta - Buckhead), 28203 (Charlotte - Dilworth), and 80206 (Denver - Congress Park). Compare the number of profiles, and their quality, to the 14222 search.

buffalofalling
buffalofalling

Jobs. Plain and simple. Young people might like everything about urbanity but needs come first and jobs are paramount on the needs list. I know tons of former high school classmates who would come back in an instant if they could bring thier job, which suggests that everything you claim about Buffalo has some draws. But no one moves out for a worse job. They move for a better one. And they won't move back for less pay and lower opportunities because they can walk to the Blue Monk. Sorry but once again the lack of any knowledge of urban and regional economics and a focus on what's good about Buffalo crushes the argument.

STEEL
STEEL

People don't live pretty much the same everywhere. Buffalo has done great damage to its livability by placing almost all of its eggs in the car culture basket. The point of this story is that making excuses and pretending that cars are the future of cities is insane and myopic. Buffalo will not be competitive as a suburbanized city. It isn't and it won't be.

r129
r129

Buffalo has been good to me, so I can't imagine wanting to live anywhere else. Whenever I visit other cities, I am always happy to return home. I have a good, stable job here that I enjoy. I purchased my first home five years ago at 25. There is so much to do here, it's sometimes overwhelming to decide, especially during the summer. Even in the winter, there are plenty of cheap or free cultural activities.

Looking at my friends and acquaintances, I see a great number of other homeowners in their 20s who are doing quite well, and living very comfortable lives. Looking at these same people, a common thread is that most of them (including myself) somehow fell into their career, by chance or necessity. Very few of them decided on a career, went to college and obtained a degree in that major, and then found employment in that field. The majority of people I know who have followed that path have either left Buffalo with no plans of returning, or are struggling here, living at home with their parents.

I think one of Buffalo's major weaknesses in attracting or retaining young people is that with very few exceptions, it is difficult to pursue a specific career, and that is what most people are doing. Part of it is that people have unrealistic expectations when looking for a job after graduation, but part of it is the nature of the job market here, and I don't see that changing any time soon. If you are flexible and manage to somehow carve out a little niche for yourself here, you can live very well in Buffalo, but that approach will not be for everyone.

To say that young people are leaving Buffalo due to a lack of walkable neighborhoods or bike lanes just seems highly unrealistic to me.

5to81ALLDAY
5to81ALLDAY

some of the problem too is that we just simply don't have the infrastructure to attract these out of town companies. If you havent noticed, the young work force wants more and more to be working in the city. What is going on in the Larkin District is great, but we are in desperate need of some new product. commercial space in the heart of downtown. If ONLY the skyway was being removed, the foot of the On-ramps at the edge of Canalside would be perfect for a fresh new mix-use building with large enough floorplates to attract new companies. 1 HSBC tower is years away from being attractive to anyone

bung
bung

Ontario Canada approx. 1500 feet from Buffalo NY

30% union workforce

13% V.A.T

Generous social safety net

More stringent health and safety environmental regulation

$10.50 per hour min. wage

More paid holidays

Home to one of the fastest growing population in North America

Have to ask why a large international corporation would move there vs. Buffalo 1500 feet away?

TIBUFF
TIBUFF

As a 22 year old college student I would have to say I mostly agree with this article. Also to add I don't want to act like I speak for my whole generation because everyone is different and it's slightly funny to even separate people this way, but as a young person from Buffalo who is pursuing higher education and eventually plan to enter the work force with the skills I've gained through my education I think that I am one of the people cities like Buffalo are looking to attract so here is my opinion. I want to live in a city that is dynamic and vibrant. I want it to be a place that has history and culture. I'm from the suburbs and the idea of living in a downtown loft/apartment sounds cool. High-rise buildings and cool shops and restaurants (not chain restaurant either) that are not linked together in a strip mall. New York City offers this, and Buffalo could too. I don't hate Buffalo for being suburban friendly but I think it needs to also cater to people who actually want to live downtown. We have cool areas but overall they don't link together well. When I'm in the city there is just this tired look to it like it has a bad head cold. If you have a chance to walk through downtown it's amazing how cool some of the buildings are then I look down and there's no one around except some homeless person eyeing me down deciding if they can scum some money out of me. I can't offer too many ways to fix this I think we're on the right track. I'm not asking Buffalo to be the huge mega city New York is but I want a more dynamic downtown that is a cool place to be and doesn't look like its recovering from a plague.

Also this is my first post I love this site I've been creeping here for awhile and just decided to register and join in the discussions

EricOak
EricOak

But what you said was unfair. I never disparaged Austin or Portland--I respect them no more or less than any other city. I just don't care for them. I like certain cities: New Orleans, Charleston, Portland, Maine, Washington DC, Buffalo, but I find the ambiance of self-conscious cities claustrophobic and uniform, and I think their virtues have been distorted, just as some of Buffalo's problems, as I'm sure you would agree, have been distorted. That's a taste that many people hold but are afraid to express, because we live in a loud and idiotic age of MSNBC and Forbes top ten lists, of vapid real estate shows and stats-addled, urban planning wonks. My argument is simple; cities are larger and more mysterious than any of those voices. Dan thinks that young people crave a magic lifestyle in say, Portland or Austin. I say they are probably moving there for job opportunities (good for them!) but have also been steered by a slick media that is constantly aggrandizing and denigrating cities as it needs to cater to the fickle whims of the day. I think many of us would welcome a break from this obsessive comparing and measuring of cities. We might, finally, discover that people actually live pretty much the same everywhere. It's the deeper emotional meaning in people's lives that really matters, not the ordained lifestyle of the city they move to.

Also, the amenities I listed are not available in all cities. There is more and better literary culture in Buffalo than in either Portland or Austin. The classical music scene in Buffalo is rich and better than both those cities. I am sure they have wonderful qualities, but they don't seduce me.

Lastly, I see nothing constructive in comments like Dan's, which reduce cities to a typical "lifestyle" script. How insulting to all the different kinds of people, young and old, who live in all the cities of America in different ways. I suspect that in our times, when people are so anxious about their life's work, meaning, identity, money, we have placed far too much accent on identifying with our cities. Instead of finding value in our personal mysteries and troubles, instead of accepting that cities of all sizes and kinds can be meaningful and fruitful places to live, we try to feel good, even superior, by being part of a particular city and its particular, probably ephemeral, reputation. I find this sad, and I am as guilty as anyone.

STEEL
STEEL

That is fine. But you sound like you are making excuses for Buffalo by downplaying how nice other cities are. Everything you listed as assets of Buffalo are also available in other cities but other cities that are attracting people and jobs also have vibrant walkable streets all over the place. Not just in a few isolated areas. Pretending Buffalo is peachy keen and need not look beyond its boarders to see how things can be done better is just as damaging as the next parking lot to come along. Buffalo has potential right now - great potential but being satisfied with potential is a recipe for disaster.

Rand503
Rand503

Baloney. this canard has been around since at least the 60s. The entire Buffalo region gets far more from Albany than it puts in.

Trust me -- I have a close friend from Buffalo who used to work at Tax and Finance for NY. Buffalo would fall off the fiscal cliff if it were to leave.

Don't believe me? Consider this: One block of midtown Manhattan generates more tax revenue for Albany than the entire city of Buffalo. You just can't compare the two. The budget for New York city dworfs that of the entire WNY community.

It's just crazy and ill informed talk that thinks that New York city or Albany are so dependent upon the weak economy of Buffalo. You seriously think that a city and county that is receivership is subsidizing downstate?

It's beyond laughable, but so sad that we have so many urban myths still floating around.

EricOak
EricOak

Steel--I think that's unfair. I'm a trustee of Preservation Buffalo Niagara. I work to stop demolition for parking. I'm here to fight for Buffalo.

I'm happy you like Portland, but I simply prefer Buffalo. What is blind about that?

And what did I say about Buffalo that was inaccurate? I think Buffalo is an extremely handsome and very anemic city -- much of it I dislike. And I prefer it to any city I've lived in. Why do you care?

Rand503
Rand503

Amen to that.

I travel around the country, and I often find myself in the very cities that are described as "best places for young people" or "to start a business" or whatever. Usually, that means Denver, Seattle, Portland, Richmond, Austin, Dallas/Houston, Charlotte, and so on.

When I go there, I usually take a day or so to explore the city and what's what. Every place has their own version of the Artvoice, so I check that out for things to do and places to see.

Invariably, the city will have just one Actor's Equity theater, and then at most two or three other theaters. The big museum in town will be new and designed by a starchitect, but is empty of anything worth seeing. The really cool hipster area that the hotel concierge tells me I must check out is about four blocks long, and has two or three funky boutiques, a brewpub or two, and few converted warehouses. (To be honest, only Portland - both of them -- actually have a fairly large hipster areas and a decent number of cool bars and restaurants).

So why are they thriving and Buffalo is not? Jobs for young people. Coming out of college with six figure debt really leave little room to select a city based on walkability. You need a job. And even if you don't have one, your chances of getting a job in any number of fields is better in these cities than Buffalo.

These cities attract young people IN SPITE of a lack of liveability. Humans are amazingly adapable, and even the most diehard urbanist will live in the suburbs of some tacky city if it's the only job he can find. You will also notice that all these cities are far more expensive to live in than Buffalo.

We need to develop the types of businesses that hire young people. It has little to do with taxes or cost of living, as these cities are located in both high tax and low tax environments, and most are more expensive than Buffalo.

Rand503
Rand503

Euclid Ave was once even grander than our own Delaware Ave. It was known around the world. Today, only a handful of the old mansions are left, and it's much more a commercial street. IT's very sad, but we are lucky that we still have much of our intact.

TurkeyBurger
TurkeyBurger

While I would agree mostly with your comments, you need to understand that not every young professional longs for an atmosphere like Boston, NYC and SanFran where the cost of living is quite out of reach for some folks, even in professional jobs. How great are place like Cleveland, Detroit and Buffalo where you can make a decent living and have pockets of culture, great food, music etc. These places have areas that offer whatever it is that young people are looking for. Its just a matter of scale. I happen to be from Buffalo and love its scale and livability. NYC, Boston are nice places to visit but who wants to commute 2-3 hours a day and not even have time to enjoy all the things you're saying these cities have to offer? There is no right or wrong answer to where anyone wants to live and why. There are so many factors that go into it, affordability, family etc. I don't think it makes any sense to compare our Rust Belt cities with that of our "cosmo" cities. They just aren't the same. They don't attract the same people. I wish we would stop trying to get people to believe that their city is 'on the edge' of trying to be like NYC or Boston. YOU'RE NOT. and we like it that way. If you don't like it...move. Its not the same. Yes there are elements that work in those cities, but again they are on a different scale.......

TurkeyBurger
TurkeyBurger

I am responding to the original piece on Rustwire....While I would agree mostly with your comments, you need to understand that not every young professional longs for an atmosphere like Boston, NYC and SanFran where the cost of living is quite out of reach for some folks, even in professional jobs. How great are place like Cleveland, Detroit and Buffalo where you can make a decent living and have pockets of culture, great food, music etc. These places have areas that offer whatever it is that young people are looking for. Its just a matter of scale. I happen to be from Buffalo and love its scale and livability. NYC, Boston are nice places to visit but who wants to commute 2-3 hours a day and not even have time to enjoy all the things you're saying these cities have to offer? There is no right or wrong answer to where anyone wants to live and why. There are so many factors that go into it, affordability, family etc. I don't think it makes any sense to compare our Rust Belt cities with that of our "cosmo" cities. They just aren't the same. They don't attract the same people. I wish we would stop trying to get people to believe that their city is 'on the edge' of trying to be like NYC or Boston. YOU'RE NOT. and we like it that way. If you don't like it...move. Its not the same. Yes there are elements that work in those cities, but again they are on a different scale.......

grad94
grad94

ericoak has never been one to favor demolition. are you sure you replied to the right comment?

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