Filling Up

In the column Filling Up , professional Blogger Matthew Yglesias talks about “Filling Up” the spaces around cities. “The problem issue the traffic which is bad everywhere anyone wants to be.”
A solution Yglesias seems to miss: create places where people want to be elsewhere, i.e. if all the current good places are taken (and too expensive in terms of time and money), then create new good places where land is cheaper, either suburbs, satellite cities, or make other existing places “good”. Economies of agglomeration, while they still exist, are clearly not what they used to be, and downtowns are far less important. Managing the positive feedback loop that are cities/real estate/accessibility is no easy trick, but it takes a special kind of elitism to think that “interesting places” (to use the term from Brad DeLong’s post are inherently limited to a few large cities with long commute times.
(full quote “The filling-up of America so that you can no longer build a detached single-family house within half-an-hour’s driving time of the interesting places people want to be, and the consequent rise both in current location premia and expected future location premia”)
This Census Bureau Table gives commute times in large cities in the United States. In short, only three cities had an average over 30 minutes (New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia) though another few come close (Go Baltimore!). As a Baltimore native, I take pride we almost make DeLong’s list of interesting places, but I am sure I could find reasonably priced housing within 30 minutes of downtown if I wanted to.