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Today's Smart Brevity count: 1016 words, a <4 minute read.
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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Eight years after IBM trademarked the term "smart cities," we don't seem to be much closer to the vision of sparkling U.S. urban centers with futuristic conveniences galore.
The big picture: Around the world, people are streaming into big cities. But in the U.S. at least, they are doing so at a slower rate and turning back to the suburbs. One reason is that few can afford a home of any size.
Housing costs have gotten so out of hand that they have boomeranged against the concept of the "smart city." That's because the epicenter of the housing crisis is the coastal and largest cities — the same metropolitan areas that have been the most hospitable to smart city discussions.
The smart-city concept has evolved: Alain Bertaud, author of "Order without Design" and a professor at New York University, tells Axios that the term "smart cities" began mostly as a slogan. But over time, its definition has been fungible.
This is a global issue. A recent survey by Demographia, a firm that researches cities, looked at 309 metros in 8 countries.
Some urban experts blame "urban containment" policies that seek to build up density by limiting the contours of a metropolitan area. "All cities with severe unaffordability have adopted one form or another of urban containment," said Wendell Cox, a St. Louis-based urban policy expert.
The resulting out-migration has affected cities like Chicago and New York. California is a key symbol of high housing costs and population outflow, specifically the Bay Area.
The bottom line: "We ought to redefine what smart is," says Kotkin. "To me, smart is upward mobility, maintaining the middle class and helping the working class."
Go deeper: American suburbs swell again
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
The official figures won't be in for a number of months, but as of now, the U.S. appears to have just marked its longest economic expansion on record.
What's happening: At 121 months, the U.S. expansion has edged out the 1991–2001 recession-less period, reports Axios' Courtenay Brown.
That's the good news. But it's worth looking more closely at the underlying data. At the Conversation, Steven Pressman, a professor at Colorado State University, points out that the expansion has been lackluster and has treated Americans very differently.
Courtenay's thought bubble: The unevenness of the economic boom is most acutely seen by the fact that those who were hit the hardest by the financial crisis still haven't recovered.
Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty
In Bitcoin, there has been something for everyone over the last 18 months.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Photo: Natasha Breen/Reda&Co/Universal Images Group/Getty
Sometime last year, a colorful — and highly Instagrammable — new beverage trend took American coffee shops by storm: the golden milk latte (pictured above).
Erica writes: Big chains like Starbucks and Le Pain Quotidien took the Ayurvedic coconut milk and turmeric drink and marketed it to the masses. Now, after discovering that brightly colored beverages that pop in photos can go viral on Instagram, companies are betting on pink, green and blue lattes.
My thought bubble: 🙄