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his podcast speaks to a subject I’ve written about a lot lately — the demographic movement of Americans leaving the big cities for small cities and small towns. New York City alone has lost over 300,000 residents since the onset of the corona virus. John Boone and Hunter Renfro are the young principals at Orchestra Partners, a real estate investment company working to rehab old neighborhoods in Birmingham, Alabama, (pop. 212,000) and elsewhere in the south. Neither of them are trained architects or urban planners, nor are they card-carrying New Urbanists, but they’re working very much in that vein and have a lot to say about creating towns and neighborhoods that are worth living in and worth caring about.

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About James Howard Kunstler

View all posts by James Howard Kunstler
James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency and the four-book series of World Made By Hand novels, set in a post economic crash American future. His most recent book is Living in the Long Emergency; Global Crisis, the Failure of the Futurists, and the Early Adapters Who Are Showing Us the Way Forward. Jim lives on a homestead in Washington County, New. York, where he tends his garden and communes with his chickens.

5 Responses to “KunstlerCast 335 — The Demographic Shift from Big Cities to Small Cities and Towns, with John Boone and Hunter Renfro”

  1. doggersize October 9, 2020 at 10:08 am #

    cleveland barely has more than 300,000 people. stop on by.
    the cost of living is low, and with a car you can shop wherever most of the blacks and hillbillies don’t shop

    • kewanee boiler October 9, 2020 at 12:08 pm #

      I am one of those Cleveland hillbillies thru my mother’s side of the family. What the comment refers to is the Appalachian exodus after WW 2. They congregated on the near west side in the older part of town from the second half of the 19th century. Houses are close together, and in general much more walkable. In general, some charming areas survived the 1960’s and are now desirable.

      • doggersize October 10, 2020 at 11:35 am #

        yes. my grandparents side came to town during the great depression. my step-grandparents came to town around 1960. most of their kids moved to the burbs. there’s a portion of their descendants that adopt worse habits overtime, just as with those descended from the folks from Mississippi that migrated here.

        but…cleveland has the same amenities as nyc, without as many problems. we have coffee shops and restaurants. we have museums. we have bagels. we have a theatre district. we have reasonable decent highways and light traffic. we have a much lower cost of living. our winter weather might even be considered better.

  2. dowd October 9, 2020 at 12:08 pm #

    Not so sure how all this fits in with the future you (and I) imagine Jim. The two gentlemen you interviewed are long term optimists and appear to disregard the gathering political storm. But they could be a beneficiary of the falling apart of our country in the short term as folks and companies seek shelter from incipient anarchy and socialist Democrat administration.


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