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Sic Transit Gloria Mundi

A mash note to Houston

Posted by John on March 18, 2008

Via Tory Gattis’s Houston Strategies blog, I found this article by Joel Kotkin making the case that Houston might be the best placed municipality to “emerge on the world stage” as the next great global city.  As a resident of the Greater Houston MSA, your correspondent is always interested to see some national-type, intranetz hype on H-town, particularly the kind of hype that reinforces my own opinions and biases.  Here’s one of the stronger excerpts:

The Next Great World City?

Given these trends, it seems likely that the next great American city will emerge from the ranks of the opportunity cities. The ultimate winner will come from those that keep up with the infrastructure needed to accommodate their growth. They also will have to deal with issues of education, crime, and creating a skilled workforce— issues that are important anywhere, of course, but can be particularly challenging in a rapidly growing metropolis. 

Perhaps the key factor that will influence the rise of the next great American city is the ability to fit into the global economy. An opportunity city with only modest links overseas can certainly grow rapidly, but only an urban center with powerful ties to global commerce is likely to achieve greatness. 

This may be where the case for Houston’s emergence is strongest. From its inception, Houston has been oriented to markets outside the country, first through its exports of timber and cotton and later as a major oil port. Trade and the global connections of the energy industry have also paced the development of internationally minded banks, business-service firms, hotels, and specialized shopping areas. An indicator of Houston’s international reach: it now ranks third among U.S. cities, behind Los Angeles and New York, in the number of consulates located there. 

I also enjoyed this quote about H-Town weather:

And in those days, long before air conditioning, there was the Houston weather, which often combined scalding temperatures with soupy humidity. “Heat is so severe during the middle of the day that most of us lie in the shade and pant,” wrote a doctor, Ashbel Smith, in 1838. Yet the Allen brothers had not really chosen so badly.

Kotkin also included a nifty graphic showing net domestic migration and job growth for various metro areas.  The huge job growth numbers in Houston and DC weren’t surprising, but I didn’t expect to see that much growth in Miami.  I’m curious what the Miami population growth would look like if they included domestic migration plus immigration.

Opportunity Cities

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