Over the next two weeks, Next City will unroll short profiles of 77 people, places and ideas that have changed cities this year. Together, they make up our 2012 Disruption Index. Forefront subscribers can download the Index in full as a PDF, complete with beautiful designs and graphics by Danni Sinisi. Readers who make a $75 donation to Next City will have a full-color printed copy of the Index mailed to them.
Anyone expecting Rahm Emanuel to come quietly into Chicago’s mayoral seat clearly does not know Rahm Emanuel. The brash, cocky and often profane former White House chief of staff has taken the reins tightly in Chicago since being elected mayor in 2011. After more than a year in office, Emanuel’s aggressive character is being reflected in his early policies. From focusing on non-motorized transportation initiatives to a revamp of the city’s garbage collection, Emanuel has not been shy about asserting himself in office. For the most part, these efforts have been well received, though a messy weeklong teacher strike in September served as a reminder that governing a city is about much more than a singular strong personality.
Emanuel’s boldest move in terms of urban policy is his proposal to create an infrastructure bank that will bring in private investors to provide the city money. And it’s a lot of money. Emanuel’s administration is eyeing more than $7 billion in projects and maintenance, and has already secured a handful of major investors. It’s a different approach to funding urban infrastructure, and Emanuel is hoping Chicago will offer a large-scale success for other cities to follow.
Nate Berg is a writer and journalist covering cities, architecture and urban planning. Nate’s work has been published in a wide variety of publications, including the New York Times, NPR, Wired, Metropolis, Fast Company, Dwell, Architect, the Christian Science Monitor, LA Weekly and many others. He is a former staff writer at The Atlantic Cities and was previously an assistant editor at Planetizen.