Anthony Downs is a senior fellow in the Economic Studies Program at the Brookings Institution. His specialties are housing, real estate, real estate finance, metropolitan planning, demographics, and transportation. His books include New Visions for Metropolitan America (Brookings/Lincoln Institute for Land Policy, 1994), and Still Stuck in Traffic: Coping with Peak-Hour Traffic Congestion (Brookings, 2004).
This book argues that such flows of residents are not random. Rather, they are closely linked to overall migration into or out of each metropolitan area and to the way U.S. cities develop. Downs contends that both urban development and the social problems it spawns are built upon social arrangements designed to benefit the middle-class majority. Racial segregation divides housing in each metropolitan area into two or more markets. Socioeconomic segregation subdivides neighborhoods within each market into a class hierarchy. The poor live mainly in the oldest neighborhoods, close to the urban center. The affluent live in the newest neighborhoods, mostly at the urban periphery. This separation stems not from pure market forces but from exclusionary laws that make the construction of low-cost housing illegal in most neighborhoods. The resulting pattern determines where housing is built and what housing is left to decay.
Downs uses data from U.S. cities to illustrate neighborhood change and to reach conclusions about ways to cope with it. he explores the causes and nature of racial segregation and integration, and he evaluates neighborhood revitalization programs, which in reviving part of a city often displace many poor residents. He presents a timely analysis of the effect of higher energy costs upon urban sprawl, argues the wisdom of reviving older cities rather than helping their residents move elsewhere, and discusses the advantages and disadvantages of public and private policies at the federal, state, metropolitan-area, city, and neighborhood levels.
In this new book, Anthony Downs looks at the causes of worsening traffic congestion, especially in suburban areas, and considers the possible remedies. He analyzes the specific advantages and disadvantages of every major strategy that has been proposed to reduce congestion. In nontechnical language, he focuses on two central issues: the relationships between land-use and traffic flow in rapidly growing areas, and whether local policies can effectively reduce congestion or if more regional approaches are necessary.
In rapidly growing parts of the country, congestion is worse than it was five or ten years ago. But Downs notes that the problem has apparently not yet become bad enough to stimulate effective responses. Neither government officials nor citizens seem willing to consider changing the behavior and public policies that cause congestion. To alleviate the problem, both groups must be prepared to make these fundamental changes. Selected by Choice as an Outstanding Book of 1992 Co-published with the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy