Welcome to your February long weekend. It’s not the best of weather in Seattle, so we look askance at all you escaping to beaches in Mexico. Even you should still take a second to appreciate that the long weekend is brought about by the President’s Day federal holiday.
What would make an urbanist president? We’ll let you know when we have one. Until then, let’s take a look at Woodrow Wilson. Towering racist that he was, it was during the decade of his presidency that the United States went from majority rural to majority urban society. In the mixed-bag category, Wilson actually met the challenge of monopolies and wrestled them to heel, navigated the country to a war footing, and tried to win the peace afterwards.
Besides presiding over the moment the United States switched to being an urban country, nothing Wilson did uniquely focused on cities. Perhaps that is why we have never had a truly urbanist president, it’s difficult to decide what kind of city to focus upon. The United States is unique in that our brand of federalism prevents the formation of a single primate city that’s multiple times larger than others. We have three metro areas above 9 million people, six more above 5 million, and almost fifty more over 1 million. Though they house the majority of Americans, and have since Wilson’s time, it would take a uniquely gifted politician to adequately address their diversity of needs.
Ray Dubicki is a stay-at-home dad and parent-on-call for taking care of general school and neighborhood tasks around Ballard. This lets him see how urbanism works (or doesn’t) during the hours most people are locked in their office. He is an attorney and urbanist by training, with soup-to-nuts planning experience from code enforcement to university development to writing zoning ordinances. He enjoys using PowerPoint, but only because it’s no longer a weekly obligation.