Bull City Rising’s Kevin Davis Visits

Kevin Davis showing job density in the Triangle AreaYesterday evening, urban economics students learned about Durham’s history and development from Kevin Davis, the creator of the popular Bull City Rising blog about Durham. Here Davis shows where jobs are concentrated in the Triangle Area. – Melissa Eggleston, Communications, Duke Economics


  1. One of the themes in Kevin Davis’s lecture was how the history of Durham’s industry and transportation has impacted the development of the city today. A particularly compelling image was the one displayed above, which demonstrates the density of industry in the triangle area.

    The slide shows that popular use of automobiles and the relatively low price of gas has enabled unplanned and decentralized development. In addition, as noted by many students in class, there are relatively few public transportation options between so spread out of locations. With the idea that most people commute every day using cars across spread out distances, the question becomes how long can the triangle sustain this model, both environmentally and logistically.

    A few people asked about the logistics of establishing light rail and other public transportation options. Kevin Davis was nice enough to send us the following follow-up materials for any one interested in this topic.

    Next American City article about BRT development in Oakland
    The Transport Politic: A very interesting transit blog

    Do you think that this model of development has already become a problem for the Raleigh-Durham area? What solutions would you propose given the current developmental pattern?

  2. During his talk, Kevin Davis, aka the “blogging czar of Durham” from BullCityRising.com gave insight into the transition Downtown Durham has undergone over the past few decades.

    One interesting part of the talk focused on the changes American Tobacco district. In the early to mid-1900s, American Tobacco was a center for industrial jobs, which required high school education and supplied employment longevity.

    However, with the relative decline of smoking in the United States and the movement to relocate production of cigarettes to more rural communities, Durham was at risk of stagnating.

    Instead of being torn down or left empty, American Tobacco now serves as office space, with jobs in university administration, information-technology, advertising, broadcasting, and software. In some ways, the changes in the American Tobacco district can be seen as a microcosm for the changes in Durham. It represents an overall shift from an economy that requires on a high school diploma to one that requires college or graduate degrees.

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