The Brian Lehrer Show

Suburbs and Segregation

Monday, August 25, 2014

WNYC reporter Arun Venugopal and Slate's Jamelle Bouie explore the suburban racial divide. 

Comments [14]


What NJ Police Are Doing with Mine-Resistant Trucks

Friday, August 22, 2014

Last year, police departments in New Jersey received $20 million in donated military equipment from the federal government. The next step: figuring out how, and why, to use it.

Comments [5]


Where The Birds Are Is Not Where You'd Think

Monday, July 28, 2014

Birds are everywhere, but the greatest concentration of different birds — the "bird mecca" of America — is not in our great parks, not in our forests, not where you'd suppose. Not at all.    

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Innovation Hub: Celebrating American Innovation

Saturday, July 05, 2014

On this episode of Innovation Hub, celebrate Independence Day by taking a look at great American innovations and how the American dream has changed over time. 

Comments [3]

The Brian Lehrer Show

Is New York Less Walkable than DC?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

New York came in second, behind Washington DC, in a recent ranking of walkability -- because NYC's suburbs are less walkable. Call and share your stories of trying to walk around the tri-state suburbs.

Comments [33]

The Brian Lehrer Show

Trouble in the Suburbs

Monday, April 28, 2014

Job growth has been weak in the suburbs. The Regional Plan Association has released a report, "Fragile Success: Taking Stock of the New York Metropolitan Region", with a section on why the suburbs are falling behind. Juliette Michaelson, vice president for strategy at the Regional Plan Association and manager of the Fourth Regional Plan, talks about the problems.

Comments [48]

The Brian Lehrer Show

Open Phones: Where Would You Move?

Friday, October 18, 2013

If you were going to leave where you live, where would you go? Do you live in a tiny apartment but are you longing for a big house? Do you want to try life on the West Coast? Are you tired of winter? 

Give us a call and tell us where you would move. 212-433-9692 or post below. 

Comments [35]


Wealthy Districts Outpace Poor on State Exams

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Despite test scores going down throughout New York, the gap between rich and poor remains when it comes to student performance.

“The districts that are lower-needs districts significantly outperformed the other districts in the state,” said State Commissioner of Education John King at Wednesday’s press conference in Midtown.


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The Brian Lehrer Show

Changes in Suburbia

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Leigh Gallagher, Assistant Managing Editor of Fortune Magazine  and author of The End of Suburbs: Where the American Dream is Moving (Portfolio, 2013), explains why since the recession more Americans are opting out of the suburbs for car-free city life. 

Comments [13]

The Leonard Lopate Show

The World After Oil, Cars, and Suburbs

Monday, June 03, 2013

Many experts agree that energy is the defining issue of this century. Ecologist Eric Sanderson explores the interconnections between oil and money, cars and transportation, and suburbs and land use. In Terra Nova: The New World After Oil, Cars, and Suburbs he charts a path toward renewed economic growth, enhanced national security, revitalized communities, and a sustainable environment.

Comments [12]

Annotations: The NEH Preservation Project

A Conflicted Portrait of Robert Moses,'The Builder for Democracy'

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


"I'm not an author. I'm merely a victim" is the unwittingly prescient opening statement from Robert Moses at this 1952 Books and Authors Luncheon. 

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The Leonard Lopate Show

How Wildlife Comebacks Turned Backyards into Battlegrounds

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Jim Sterba explains how Americans came to live in closer proximity to more wild animals and birds in the eastern United States than we have in 400 years. In Nature Wars: The Incredible Story of How Wildlife Comebacks Turned Backyards into Battlegrounds, Sterba looks at how how efforts to protect animals allowed wild populations to burgeon out of control, causing damage costing billions, degrading ecosystems, and touching off disputes that polarized communities.

Comments [11]

The Brian Lehrer Show

Suburban Voting Trends

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Larry Levy, executive director of the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University, talks about the final National Suburban Poll, which measures the voting preferences of the nation's most influential swing voters, suburbanites.


Comments [2]

Transportation Nation

In Age of Streetcar, Transit (not Cars) Fueled DC Suburbs

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Undated. Streetcars running on 14th Street, NW near the District Building, now known as the John A. Wilson Building. (Courtesy of DDOT)

(Rebecca Sheir, WAMU -- Washington, D.C.) Mount Pleasant, Anacostia, LeDroit Park...all three a part of our nation's capital, are probably not the first names that come to mind when one thinks of the D.C. suburbs. But these three neighborhoods actually comprised the District's earliest 'burbs. They were called "streetcar suburbs," since their development stemmed from streetcar lines.

In the case of Mount Pleasant, the streetcar transformed the community from a sleepy village to a bustling neighborhood. Local historian and writer Mara Cherkasky says the electric streetcar came up 14th Street NW around 1893, but everything changed when D.C. extended 16th Street past Boundary Street, which is today's Florida Avenue.

"Starting in 1905 stores started popping up, and apartment buildings and row houses," she says. "So that streetcar coming up Mount Pleasant Street in 1903 turned this neighborhood into what it is."

Cultural Tourism DC's Chief Historian Jane Freundel Levey compares the impact of the streetcar to the impact of modern-day Metro.

"Every place where we've had a new Metro station we've had a tremendous amount of the most modern style of building," she says. "And that's what happened here in Mount Pleasant, too."

The electric streetcar had its last run in 1962. Levey says its demise was connected to the advent of the highway lobby in the 1950s.

"The government was giving huge amounts of money to build roads and the number of cars just burgeoned," Levey says. "And cars and streetcars were not very compatible. Streetcars were not maneuverable; they had to be on the tracks. Cars were zipping in and out; it got dangerous, it got very dense."

In terms of when a suburb like Mount Pleasant stopped being known as a suburb and started being known as a part of the city proper, Levey says it's hard to pick a date.

"We have generational changes in how we define a suburb," she says. "So, what was a suburb, as in Mount Pleasant, that lasted really only a short amount of time until other suburbs developed. This was a suburb that pretty quickly took on urban forms, so the next rank of suburb is a little bit farther out from Mount Pleasant, especially going up Connecticut Avenue."

Levey says suburbs were attractive in D.C.'s early days because the city was "chock-a-block with industry and commerce, and you didn't want to mix that kind of activity with where you lived."

She says that same idea is still attractive to many people today.

"There are still a lot of people who just want to have their house, their castle," she says. "They want to have land around them that belongs to them, and they don't want to have to look out the kitchen window and be able to read the newspaper of the guy sitting in the kitchen next store. There will always be people who look at it that way."

Washington D.C. is looking to revive a streetcar line by the summer of 2013, though not for the suburbs.

The audio version of this story at WAMU has additional information, gripping voices, and sounds like a trip back in time for a streetcar ride. Listen

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Comments [1]

Selected Shorts

Selected Shorts: What the Blind Can See

Sunday, June 17, 2012

This program features two stories in which houses figure, and represent more than just a domicile.  In Yasunari Kawabata’s “Household,” a husband takes his blind wife to “see”, so to speak, a possible house where they might live.  “To the blind, houses are alive,” she says.  All the Kawabata stories we have presented as part of SELECTED SHORTS are terse, short, haiku-like gems, and this one is no exception.  The reader is Fionnula Flanagan.


Transportation Nation

Fewer Houstonians Striving To Own 'That House In The Suburbs'

Monday, April 23, 2012

Houston Suburbs (photo flickr cc Nelson Minar)

(Houston, TX -- David Pittman, KUHF) The idea of having a house in the suburbs is rapidly losing its luster among folks in Houston. This year's Houston Area Survey finds a significant increase in the number of people who are sick and tired of burning up their precious money and time on the road.

Thirteen years ago, the Houston Area Survey started asking people who lived in urban areas if they'd prefer to live in the suburbs.  It also asked people in the suburbs if they'd like to move into the city one day. Survey founder Stephen Klineberg, a Rice University sociology professor, says the survey has revealed a clear shift in opinion.

"In 1999, twice as many people in the city said 'I want to move to the suburbs,' than people in the suburbs saying 'I want to move to the city.' Those lines have crossed now. And in this year's survey, significantly more people in the suburbs said 'I would be interested in, someday, moving to the city,' than people in the city saying, 'I want to move to the suburbs.'"

The most obvious reason is the rise in gasoline prices. But Klineberg says shifting demographics are also at play.

"You've got empty-nesters. Kids are grown up. You've got young creatives who want the urban life. When all this began, 65% of U.S. households consisted of a husband and wife and two kids. Now, it's less than a third."

And that change in the makeup of households is also reflected in the type of houses people in Houston aspire to own.  The percentage of people who say they'd like a traditional house with a yard in the suburbs has dropped from 59% four years ago, to 47% today. While the proportion who would like a smaller home in a more walkable neighborhood has risen dramatically over the same period of time — from about a third, to more than half.

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The Takeaway

New Census Data Reveals Shift from Suburbs to Cities

Friday, April 06, 2012

New Census data released Thursday shows that the annual rate of growth in American cities has now surpassed that of the suburbs for the first time in 20 years. Lawrence Levy, executive dean of the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University, joins us to discuss why that shift is occurring.


Transportation Nation

Maryland County Explores Bikeshare in the 'Burbs

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Columbia's pathways (photo: Jonathan Wilson)

Leaders in Howard County, Maryland, and  the unincorporated town of Columbia are trying to figure out whether something that seems to be working quite well in more urban areas can be part of the plan going forward in their neck of the woods -- they’re exploring the potential of bike sharing.

The two municipalities have teamed up to apply for for grant money to fund a feasibility study on such a program.

The arrival of a bike sharing program could coincide with major redevelopment in Columbia's downtown, which is currently dominated by a sprawling shopping mall.

"It isn't a traditional downtown with a main street," Columbia Association director of community planning Jane Dembner says. "

But the sprawling retail complex and the expanse of parking lots surrounding it haven’t stopped Columbia, which is about a 30 minute drive from Baltimore and a 45 minute drive from the nation's capital, from regularly being listed as one of the very best places to live in the country.

The town's 100,000 residents have access to some of the best public schools in the nation, and foreclosure and jobless rates are impressively low.

But local leaders believe a bike sharing programs could make things even better.  And there are already reasons to believe that if bike sharing is feasible in a suburban environment at all, Columbia would be the place.

Turn in to any of the residential streets in Columbia and it’s not long before you see some of the paved trails that snake through the neighborhoods.  The trails were created as a selling point when this planned community was conceived by local developer Jim Rouse more than 40 years ago.

"We have 94 miles of pathways that are separated from our roadways. Major cities don’t have that many," Dembner says. "Washington [D.C.] doesn't have that many pathways."

The paved pathways are perfect for bicycling in most spots, but that doesn't mean they're perfect for bicycle commuting.

Some routes contain steep and winding sections that are difficult to navigate on a bicycle, and signage is almost non-existent. Even some locals say it's easy to lose your way.

"For people who know the area, it's in your head -- a mental map, I guess you could say," says Anthony Rizzi, a 17-year-old student at Wilde Lake High School.  "But I know as a freshman doing cross-country I got lost all the time."

Howard County Council Chair Mary Kay Sigaty says the county, which is in charge of road improvements in Columbia, will have to invest in better on-road bike lanes to make bike sharing work.

"If you go on our bike trails, you can go all sorts of wonderful places, but you can't necessarily get from here to there," she says.

You can hear the entire WAMU story here.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: The Political Implications of Volatile Gas Prices, The New Suburban Growth, and Why Cabbies Don't Want to Leave Manhattan

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

More on the political implications of volatile gas prices--as well as oil company subsidies--from the Wall Street JournalThe Takeaway talks about what -- if anything -- Congress can do to lower them.

Cabbies say the reason they often refuse to take passengers to New York's outer boroughs is because of their bottom line. (WNYC)

USA Today looks at suburbanization, and says most of the growth is happening on opposite ends of the suburban expanse: in older communities closest to the city and in the newer ones that are the farthest out.

The first crash test evaluations of the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf earned the cars high safety ratings from the IIHS; AP video below.

Speaking of EVs: an unmodified Nissan Leaf is entering a steep hill climb race. (Inhabitat)

An audit found that Los Angeles is losing up to $15 million in revenue because the city barely captures half of the parking fines owed to it. (Los Angeles Times)

North Dakota became the 31st state to ban texting while driving. (Grand Forks Herald)

Utah lawmakers have scheduled a vote on whether to overturn the governor's veto of a bill that dedicates a portion of the state sales tax to transportation. (Daily Herald)

NYC DOT puts a digital speed detector at an intersection in Staten Island because "two out of every three cars were exceeding the speed limit," according to commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. (Staten Island Advance)

Transparency watch: NY's MTA has a board meeting this morning at 9:30am; you can watch it here.

Despite moving forward on creating their own electric vehicles, the head of BMW says he doesn't think EVs are right for more than 10% of the population. (Fast Company)

Follow Transportation Nation on Twitter.

In case you missed it on Transportation Nation:

--The NYPD ticketed cyclists for not riding in a bike lane (link)

--BART wants rider input on new seat design (link)

--TN's Andrea Bernstein will be at the NYC Transit Museum tonight to talk about the past -- and future -- of Penn Station (link)

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Transportation Nation

De-Sprawling Houston

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Galina Tachieva & Tom Low

(Houston - Wendy Siegle, KUHF News) Ever since post-war communities like Levittown and the advent of cheap gasoline, the suburban model has been one built around the automobile. But that model may be changing, even in the sprawling suburbs of Houston. Old strip malls and shopping centers are being retrofitted into walkable town centers, and high density, pedestrian-friendly enclaves, where people can live, shop,  and grab a bite to eat, are popping up around the region. I sat down with two sustainable development experts, Galina Tachieva and Tom Low, to talk about this move to urbanize the suburbs. They're in Houston today to lead an urban planning workshop, where they'll talk about how their ideas can be applied to Houston. (You can listen to the interview over at KUHF News.)

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