Greetings from Scott Rosenberg, Axios managing editor, sitting in for Kim Hart, who is recovering from an injury. Kim will be back next week!
Today's newsletter is 1,516 words, a 6-minute read.
Nearly 10 million American kids live in low-opportunity neighborhoods, with limited access to good schools, parks and healthy food, Axios' Erica Pandey reports.
Why it matters: Simply being born in these pockets put these kids at a stark disadvantage. The neighborhoods in which children grow up shape many aspects of their adult lives, including how long they'll likely live, how healthy they'll be and how much money they'll make.
The big picture: In a new report, researchers at Brandeis University used several factors — such as poverty rate, employment statistics and acres of green space — to assign opportunity scores (ranging from 1 to 100) to all 72,000 neighborhoods in the country.
There are whopping disparities even within metro areas.
There's also "an extremely clear and disturbing racial divide," says Dolores Acevedo-Garcia, the lead researcher and director of Brandeis' Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy.
What to watch: Some city leaders have turned Brandeis' child opportunity index into a guide to address inequities at home.
The bottom line: "We've grown very complacent and grown used to seeing our metro areas so starkly divided," says Acevedo-Garcia. "But the fact that some kids live in these neighborhoods that have much, much, much worse conditions hurts all of us, as a country."
Rapidly aging populations are set to challenge U.S. cities, five mayors told a roundtable yesterday.
The big picture: The median U.S. age jumped from 28 to 38 between 1970 and 2016, per CityLab. As cities get older, their mayors are tasked with creating policies and building infrastructure to adapt, Erica reports.
Details: The mayors, who are in D.C. for the U.S. Conference of Mayors gathering this week, spoke with reporters before an event organized by The Hill. They identified affordable housing and access to transportation as two urgent issues affecting seniors.
What to watch: Some cities are aging faster than others, CityLab reports. Communities in the Midwest and Appalachia are getting increasingly older as younger people move to the coasts, and managing aging populations will be an even more acute issue there.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
The local news crisis is hitting major cities across America, Axios' Sara Fischer reports.
Why it matters: Financial woes have shut down hundreds of local outlets across the country. Now, bigger metro and regional newspapers and outlets are finding they're not immune, either — and in some cases, their problems are harder to solve.
Driving the news: Two investigative reporters at the Chicago Tribune, in a New York Times opinion piece Sunday, told of receiving buyout offers that foreshadowed major cuts at the 173-year-old paper following its acquisition by Alden Global Capital, a hedge fund known for cutting journalists at local papers to maximize profits.
The trend is spreading across the country. Just two days before the Tribune staffers' op-ed, a reporter at the Orlando Sentinel also detailed similar buyout alarms. The Orlando Sentinel is also owned by Alden Global Capital.
The big picture: Cuts to big-city papers around the country are happening as more faltering newspapers are acquired by hedge funds and private equity firms aiming to slash costs and boost profits.
Between the lines: Large city and regional papers often compete for subscribers with national papers, like the New York Times or the Washington Post, that cover topics appealing to their readers.
Be smart: Even some national titles owned by billionaires or well-off families are struggling.
Go deeper: Cities are turning into news deserts
Computer image of Woven City. Photo: Courtesy of Toyota
In China and Japan, high-tech cities are being developed as living laboratories to test automated vehicles, robots and artificial intelligence, Axios' Joann Muller reports.
Why it matters: The real-world incubators could help accelerate the development of infrastructure and systems needed to support self-driving cars, at a pace the U.S. will find hard to match.
Yes, but: It's a different story elsewhere in the world.
China's Xiongan New Area project, near Beijing, is part of the central government's ambitious drive to lead in new technologies like AI and 5G communication.
Woven City, near Japan's Mount Fuji, is a much smaller project — just 175 acres — led not by government but by one of Japan's leading industrial giants, Toyota Motor Corp.
If the U.S. were to build a similar prototype city, it would need to invest or direct billions of dollars in advanced technologies like 5G, vehicle-to-vehicle communication, electric charging infrastructure and vehicle automation in an area with a high population density.
Is America ready for car-free cities? Not yet — even if the example of Ghent, in Belgium, shows just how successful banning cars can be. Still, America does seem to be ready for car-free streets, which is a good start, Axios' Felix Salmon writes.
Driving the news: New York City released data this week showing that crosstown bus travel times plunged from 16.8 minutes to 10.4 minutes after cars were banned from 14th Street, a major thoroughfare. Meanwhile, bus ridership rose by 25%, to exceed 30,000 riders per day on a single line.
Why it matters: Banning cars is great for more than just bus riders. In New York, 14th Street has become a bicyclist's paradise — and retailers in places like Denver and Minneapolis have also learned to love being located on bus-only streets.