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admin | Office Exercises | 10.03.2014
It is one of the most iconic photographs of all time but as it celebrates its 80th anniversary it has emerged that a€?Lunch atop a Skyscrapera€™ may not have been as impromptu as previously thought.Archivists say the shot showing 11 construction workers enjoying their break on a suspended beam, high above the streets of Manhattan, was in fact a publicity stunt. Taken on September 20, 1932 it was intended to look like a natural break during the construction of the RCA Building (later renamed the GE Building in 1986), which forms part of the Rockefeller Center.The image of the 11 workers perched on a beam 69 floors above Manhattan eating lunch, sharing banter and lighting cigarettes is one of the worlda€™s most reproduced. The image first appeared in the New York Herald Tribune a few weeks after it was taken on October 2, 1932.
The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline. That comes from reams of data and piles of research that suggests commute times tend to cluster around this point. I was inspired to look into this further after seeing an article by Charlie Gardner over at his blog, The Old Urbanist. But before we ask why commute times hover in a tight band, perhaps we need to ask why people commute so far in the first place. Now we can move on to the more curious question, why commutes tend to average 20-30 minutes. Commuting is a big part of our lives, so it makes perfect sense that it would affect so much of the world around us, especially the cities we live in. That presents a real dilemma for urban planners, who have been striving to increase densities in cities across the board. Thanks to the support of readers like you, Per Square Mile remains independent and ad-free. If you enjoy what you just read, please consider supporting the site with a monthly recurring donation as a Sustaining Member. I should live as far from work as I decide to live because no one can judge all of the intimate factors involved in my decision. I like the overall direction of your argument but and somewhat sceptical of your use of mean commute time and not median. If you have not seen the median data then I am afraid much of first half of your article (wisdom of crowds bit) is speculative.
The 30 minute commute time is sticky, but there are a lot of good reasons why we might want cities that have people commuting short distances slowly rather than long distances quickly. In freer markets, jobs follow workers who have lower housing costs, rather thanv the other way around. In a growing city, travel times get longer anyway, which both sets of authors correctly state.
Is there any information about governmental efforts to encourage living close to one’s workplace? Although the photo it is commonly credited to photographer Charles C Ebbets, information which was uncovered by a private investigation firm in 2003, Corbis say that after it emerged that there were multiple photographers at the shoot, they are no longer certain Mr Ebbets took it.
Recently arrived in the city, the Irish natives came to Manhattan seeking employment at a grim economic time. Gardner had mined the American Community Survey for average commute times in major metropolitan areas. One study in the Netherlands and another in Quebec, found that polycentric metro areasa€”those with two or more cities, like Minneapolis-St.


A survey of 2,000 commuters in the San Francisco Bay Area reported that 52 percent of respondents said they commuted at least 5 minutes longer than they would like. People in the Bay Area survey who didna€™t mind their commute said they agreed with statements like, a€?I use my commute time productivelya€? and a€?My commute trip is a useful transition between home and worka€?, which supports anecdotal evidence Ia€™ve heard that people enjoy the separation between work and home. Take a dense city like New York that has oodles of jobs, and lots of dense housing close in.
Recent research has shown that cities resemble living organisms, and suggests that the millions of people living in them reach much better decisions on crucial issues than small groups of bureaucrats on planning boards. Especially, at the point when you discuss change over time I would have liked to have known how the median has moved.
The iconic image has frequently been wrongly attibuted to Lewis Hine, who was famous for documenting the rise of the Empire State Building in 1931. Indeed, the photo was taken while the city was in the depths of the Great Depression when one in four New Yorkers were unemployed. Though there was a tight correlation between population and commute time (metros with larger populations have longer average commutes), the differences werena€™t pronounced. The answers may seem obvious, but whata€™s readily apparent to one person may not be to another. As metro areas add more jobs, those jobs tend to be concentrated in business districts (after all, not everyone can work out of their homes).
Among that group, median commute times were 40 minutes, which is certainly longer than the regiona€™s average. People may find that time more productive, or maybe the time seems shorter because driving can be stressful, while just sitting usually isna€™t.
A study of two metro areas in Washington State discovered that commute times dona€™t change much when people move or switch jobs. That may help reduce trip times for errands and such, but it doesna€™t preclude people from living in one mixed-use neighborhood and working in another. Jobs-Housing Balance Revisited: Trends and Impacts in the San Francisco Bay Area, Journal of the American Planning Association, 62 (4) 511. Job and housing tenure and the journey to work, The Annals of Regional Science, 31 (4) 471. What we perhaps do not know, is how much longer trip times might have been had a growing city remained strictly monocentric.
Nevertheless, huge-scale construction projects begun during the boom years of the 1920s were nearing completion.
But therea€™s a point where that journey becomes too onerous, and you are willing to sacrifice some of those desires to live closer to your job. And as business districts fill up, commute times lengthen because the roads leading there become more congested.
As cities grow and begin bumping into one another, such agglomerations are likely to become more common. On the other hand, 42 percent said their commutes were just right (their median time was 15 minutes). The thinking is that if a person gets a new job thata€™s farther away, they are more likely to move.


But somewhere like Tulsa that doesna€™t have as many jobs doesna€™t have as much need for density. Changing Jobs and Changing Houses: Mobility Outcomes of Employment Transitions, Journal of Regional Science, 39 (4) 673. The Impact of Metropolitan Structure on Commute Behavior in the Netherlands: A Multilevel Approach, Growth and Change, 35 (3) 333.
Analyzing Changes in Urban Form and Commuting Timea?—, The Professional Geographer, 55 (4) 463. The Changing Commute: A Case-study of the Jobsa€“Housing Relationship over Time, Urban Studies, 30 (10) 1729. The Quebec paper points out that their findings indicate that further research is necessary to establish whether the Gordon et al Law does not apply to smaller cities.
Commentators have suggested that during the economic depression men were willing for to take on any work regardless of safety issues.
To increase an average by that amount, some commutes had to grow significantly to counter those that shrunk or remained the same. Another reason is because mass transit commutes tend to be more reliable in terms of duration (at least for trains). Form follows function, and currently the freeways in Tulsa are functioning pretty well compared with New York. If we offer faster and better transportation, people will use it until it becomes overburdened. An older study by Martin Wachs and his colleagues at UCLA found, unsurprisingly, that people choose where to live not just based on commute times but also neighborhood characteristics, schools, and safety.
While there may not be consensus on this point, I havena€™t found any studies that claim changes in urban form will shorten commute times. But despite the fact that a majority think their commute is too long, most people said they didna€™t mind it, so long as their trips were less than 100 miles.
People told me, if you think traffic is bad now, it was much worse during the tech boom of the late 1990s.
That makes sense if you look at somewhere like New York City, which is both monocentric and dense. Attempts to influence urban form through design may not have much of an impact if jobs dona€™t follow.
People may work a short distance from their homes, but traffic is so congested and public transit makes so many stops that commute times are still relatively long. If an employer moves and an employee doesna€™t move as well, the employee is more likely to find another job.
Simply increasing density in some cities may shorten commutes for a brief period, but the honeymoon wona€™t last forever.
Companies looking to relocate simply to cut costs may find the high turnover that results more costly in the long run.



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