VIDEO: Max Wilson’s Incredible Two-Year Timelapse of Chicago

We occasionally post videos put together by people from around the world for no other reason than to share their incredible job of showcasing cities. The latest such example began surfacing a couple of weeks ago, and this time the video profiles Chicago.

The approximately six minute video, entitled Windy City Nights, was put together by Max Wilson over a nearly two-year period. The extraordinary timelapse video showcases a number of Chicago landmarks while also profiling some more casual scenes from about The Windy City.

According to Wilson, he shot over 200,000 exposures to end up with the final product. It also apparently taxed him due to his simultaneous full-time work and family commitments.

Well, Max Wilson’s struggles are for your enjoyment. So sit back, relax and enjoy this wonderful video of the capital of the Midwest.

The rise of downtowns and resurgence of inter-city bus travel

The resurgence of center cities and urban living has been well-documented. When combined with the inability of the United States to significantly invest in inter-city passenger rail, it appears to be only natural that inter-city bus travel has boomed. More from Chicago Magazine:

“In 1960, there were 454 daily arrivals and departures by bus in and out of Chicago. In 1980, 290; in 2002, 147 (O’Hare has about 2,400 flights every day). From 2002-2006, intercity bus service across the country declined eight percent. Then it turned around…With the resurgence of central-business districts, travelers too young to remember the stigma associated with bus travel, especially those living on college campuses and in large cities, are turning to motor coaches in especially large numbers.”

Cincinnati: A Love, Love, Hate Relationship

This guest post by Greg Meckstroth originally appeared on urbanOut.

Oh Cincinnati, Oh. How I love, love, hate you. Before moving to Indianapolis I spent 2 years living in Cincinnati, Ohio in the neighborhood of Clifton. During this time I gained a true appreciation for what the city is and all the quirks that exist there. What I concluded is that there is a lot to love about the City, but also some things to hate…but more love than hate. Culturally, physically, and emotionally, Cincinnati is an amazingly unique place with a provincial attitude completely different than any other Midwest counterpart. With these oddities and attitudes comes certain social down sides that gives the City a bad reputation and why it ultimately isn’t a creative class destination. Below, I list the positives and negatives of Cincinnati.

Here is why I love, love Cincinnati:

  • Identity: The region has a unique, provincial culture not found anywhere else. Whether it’s the food (Skyline Chili, Dewey’s, Graeter’s to name a few), the government, or the institutions, Cincinnati seems to have retained its sense-of-self in ways other Midwest cities have not. People in the area don’t consider themselves from Ohio, but instead just from Cincinnati. Cincinnati is its own city-state.
  • Local: Locally owned businesses seem to thrive in Cincinnati. While other Midwest towns have become ‘Chain City USA’s’, Cincinnati celebrates their local businesses and builds community around them. What I find interesting about downtown Cincinnati’s renaissance is the number of locally owned establishments fueling the rebirth. Unlike other towns, Cincinnati isn’t marking their downtown’s success by which chains it does and does not have.
  • Community: The sense of community pride in the City is strong. More often than not, people who live in Cincinnati love Cincinnati. Also, since the City is so neighborhood focused, each having it’s own flavor and sense-of-place, people latch on to their respective communities, keep up on current events, and actively voice concerns. More so than other places, Cincinnati citizens definitely care about their community.
  • Density: Cincinnati is structurally America’s oldest inland City and thus developed before the car and in extremely dense fashions similar to East Coast cities. Plus, the City’s hills constrained development, making the neighborhoods even denser (Cincinnati was the densest City in the United States outside of New York for quite some time).
  • Geography: Cincinnati’s hilly geography allowed each neighborhood to develop separately, each with their own business district and each in different forms. On top of this, the hilly, river valley geography provides great views and interesting urban landscapes and juxtapositions.
  • Architecture: The City’s core features the Midwest’s best collection of 19th Century architecture as well as innovative new architecture (hello The Ascent and Contemporary Arts Center).

So enough gushing about how great the City is, because with this love, love comes the ‘hate’:

  • Cliques: Because of the provincial culture, Cincinnati seems closed off to outsiders and their respective ideas. Newcomer’s often describe Cincinnati as ‘cliquey’ and find it difficult to fit in to social circles.
  • Close-minded: The City has a negative reputation with being open to minorities, namely the gay and lesbian population and African-Americans. As a gay man living in the City, I feel this stereotype applies more to the surrounding suburbs than the liberal leaning City, but it nonetheless is a perception problem the reigon has to deal with.
  • Status-quo: While other parts of the country progress on certain issues, Cincinnati seems to take a ‘wait-and-see’ approach. If something is proven successful time and time again, Cincinnati will come on board, and probably when other places like New York and San Francisco have already moved on to the next big thing. Thus, the City seems comfortable with the status quo, and progress happens slowly here.

There are plenty of other things to both love and hate about Cincinnati, but my analysis is limited to the region’s provincialism and unique culture. I have to say that I have seen great progress in Cincinnati over the past few years, with current leadership and community activism geared towards ending the status quo, ridding the City of this ‘hate’ I speak of, and moving forward in positive ways. With this progress comes the question: if Cincinnati continues to open itself to other ideas and virtues, can it hold onto its uniqueness?

In general, can a City continue celebrating it’s uniqueness while opening up to the outside? I think the obvious answer is ‘yes’, a City can do this and there are plenty of examples. But unfortunately, there are also examples that point to the contrary. So as Cincinnati moves forward it must be aware of this give and take and find the proper balance in becoming a bigger and better 21st Century City.

For as long as I can remember, I have had this love, love, hate relationship with Cincinnati. However, my ideas are not new and have been examined before. Check out this post by the Urbanophile for a similar take on Cincinnati.

Greg Meckstroth holds a Geography degree from the Ohio State University along with a Masters in Community Planning from the University of Cincinnati’s nationally-ranked School of Planning. Greg currently works as a planner with an urban design firm in Indianapolis.

Sen. Brown announces $700k for Ohio Hub

United States Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has announced the passage of $2.75 million in federal funds for transportation and infrastructure projects in Ohio. $700,000 of that money will be going towards improving the capacity of passenger and freight trains – a critical component of the Midwest Regional Rail System that officials says will integrate the region’s air, highway, and local transit networks along 3,000-mile interstate rail network with more than 45 proposed passenger stations.

Senator Brown said that, “investing in Ohio’s transportation infrastructure is critical to ensuring the long-term economic competitiveness of our state. These funds will help communities make necessary improvements to buildings, roads, and public transportation.”

Also within the bill, the Cincinnati Freestore Foodbank, Inc. will receive $500,000 for renovation and improvement work at their 110,000 square-foot food distribution facility. Senator Brown’s office states that these improvements will allow the center to increase capacity and food handling efficiency, while also creating a suitable space to the organization’s Nonprofit Training Center.

Contact the White House on the behalf of Cincinnati

A few weeks back, I wrote about the newly formed White House Office of Urban Affairs (OUA), which seeks to be more mindful of the impact federal policies have on metropolitan areas. As a way to better our metropolitan areas, the director of OUA has begin a several month-long tour of American cities.

Director Carrion’s focus recently has centered on cities’ efficiencies and therefore their natural ability to serve as the catalyst for a new, environmentally conscious economy. Director Carrion spent Tuesday in Kansas City meeting with “Special Assistant to the President on Urban Policy Derek Douglas, Special Adviser for Green Jobs Van Jones, … HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, Transportation Deputy Secretary John Porcari [and] … local elected officials, stakeholders, and community members to discuss the development of the Green Impact Zone, an initiative which is using federal and local resources to invest in components of sustainable living and to create jobs in one of the city’s most challenged communities.”

The Director will be touring the nation holding similar meeting and seeking input to shape his policies. The fact that his first of such meetings focused on the potential for cities to act as an incubator for the green economy demonstrates Carrion’s willingness to research new, innovative ideas. As a result, the director’s policies will favor those cities that best implement best practices and innovative techniques.

Cincinnati needs to be on this list of innovative cities. There is no reason that our manufacturing past cannot resurrect itself to be the leader in inventive technology. One way to ensure that Cincinnati stands up and is counted among the cities that does not want to be left behind is to send a loud, clear message that we want to be involved. The White House encourages Americans to request that Director Carrion stop in their city to discuss their issues with him.

We ought to take the White House up on this offer. Please send a clear message to the Obama Administration that Cincinnati is a force to be reckoned with by emailing urbanaffairs@who.eop.gov. When you do, respectfully request that Director Carrion come to Cincinnati, and mention whatever urban issues you think are most pressing. When I wrote I motioned that Cincinnati’s once-booming manufacturing infrastructure currently lays under-utilized, so we need policies to encourage business development in the US. I also said that the gorgeous and historic architecture of this city is undervalued and under-appreciated, which accelerates its demise, so we need policy that encourages restoration and infill as opposed to demolition and new building. Finally, I praised the administration for taking a firm stance on high speed rail, and pled for a set of comprehensive, fair and practical transportation policies that encourage competition instead of an auto-centric monopoly.

If you have a moment, please write a few sentences on why Cincinnati needs to host the Director of Urban Affairs, and send it to urbanaffairs@who.eop.gov. It is vital for the future of this city that the voices of Cincinnatians be heard as they are crafting policy.