Gabrielle Gurley

Gabrielle Gurley is The American Prospect’s deputy editor. Her email is

Recent Articles

Infrastructure, Immigration, and Trump’s War on Cities

The president’s putative concern for America’s decaying infrastructure takes a back seat to his anti-immigrant demagoguery and anti-urban policies.

(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
The Master of Distraction has done it again. America’s trillion-dollar infrastructure crisis will never get the concentrated attention from the White House that it desperately requires, because the president of the United States enjoys poisoning the American body politic with divisive scapegoating. This week’s target: big-city mayors. When he was running for president, Trump inveighed against the country’s Third-World airports, rail, and other emblems of national decay. In his first year in the White House, however, he has dodged and weaved away from any decisive action on the issue. Infrastructure has been lost in the hostage negotiations that pass for legislative deliberations over immigration, taxes, and health care. State and local leaders have endured unprecedented procrastination from the administration as they try to read between the lines of memos and vague speeches. Trump avoids constructive engagement even when opportunity walks straight into the White...

Gateway To Nowhere on the Hudson

Donald Trump could well kill more funds for the construction of critical rail infrastructure projects—which doesn’t bode well for the Northeast.

AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews
On December 29, 2017, the Trump administration announced that it had no intention of upholding Obama administration’s unofficial agreement to pay 50 percent of the cost of the Gateway Program, a slew of infrastructure improvements, including a new cross-Hudson rail tunnel between New York and New Jersey. “We consider it unhelpful to reference a nonexistent 'agreement' rather than directly address the responsibility for funding a local project where 9 out of 10 passengers are local transit riders,” K. Jane Williams, the Federal Transit Department’s Deputy Administrator informed state and program officials. The news was as welcome as snakes let loose in Times Square ten minutes before midnight. Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo stayed mum; a spokesman for departing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie remained “confident.” Which left Republican Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen to state the obvious: "There has long been agreement among federal...

Amazon, City Killer?

Amazon has whittled down the list of contenders for its second headquarters. Are those metropolitan areas ready for seismic socioeconomic upheaval?

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson
Trying to figure out where Amazon will set down roots or, depending on your perspective, spread its tentacles, is the newest capitalistic cage match. Nineteen American cities and one Canadian metro area, down from the original 238, now go into overdrive to secure what promises to one of the most transformative economic decisions in the world: a single $5 billion investment in a second headquarters that brings 50,000 high-tech workers and their families, plus thousands more jobs in associated sectors. This competition spurred the type of collaboration between private sector and political leaders that only develops when a trophy like an Amazon comes into view, according to Susan Wachter, a University of Pennsylvania Wharton School professor of real estate and finance and co-director of Penn Institute for Urban Research, which assembled a group of urban experts to weigh in on the Amazon competition. In a conversation with The American Prospect , Wachter uses the word “...

What Cities Can Learn from Houston Metro’s Hurricane Harvey Experience

The city’s bus and light rail network got through Harvey mostly unscathed because officials improvised—and learned lessons from previous storms.

(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
screen_shot_2017-07-19_at_4.28.52_pm.png In early December, two groups of researchers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the World Weather Attribution, a global network of scientists, independently concluded that climate change made Hurricane Harvey’s record-setting torrents far more damaging. Hurricanes usually weaken and sputter out after making landfall, but Harvey sat and spun, drenching the metro region with nearly 50 inches of rain over five days . The storm surge that pushed against the coastline slowed the outflows from rivers already swollen by rainfall farther inland, contributing to major flooding. Climate change finds public transit agencies hard-pressed to confront and adapt to extreme meteorological events. Most transit systems have long-established emergency procedures to handle hazards like hurricanes, blizzards, or major accidents. But small and large systems alike are woefully unprepared for increases in the severity or frequency of storms. The...

Boston’s Amazon HQ2 Fantasies Take Off

Who needs one million square feet of office space in Boston’s Seaport District? Amazon might. The Boston Globe reported Thursday that real-estate industry executives “with knowledge of the talks” dished that Amazon is in the market for one, maybe two office buildings in the bustling and picturesque waterfront neighborhood. (The Boston Business Journal first reported the story Tuesday.)

This latest revelation has set tongues wagging that “the Hub” (a Boston nickname, short for “Hub of the Universe”—yes, seriously) had moved to the front of the pack of more than 200 U.S. cities looking to land “HQ2,” Amazon’s much-discussed second headquarters—even though Amazon had already been in the hunt for more office space (the company has about 1,000 employees in metro Boston) long before company officials announced the new headquarters search.

Predictably, Amazon had nothing to say to the Globe. The company plans to make a decision on an additional Boston site at about the same time that it announces its short list of finalists for its new headquarters. The much-vaunted new HQ would employ about 50,000 people.

Massachusetts officials are salivating over the possibility of adding Amazon to its roster of corporate catches. General Electric has already decided to move its headquarters from Fairfield, Connecticut, to Boston.

City officials have also proposed another location, a former race track in an eastern section of the city. The race track would be better able to provde the 8 million square feet that the company says it needs for a new campus. But emails obtained by the Associated Press indicate that state officials are trying to “pitch the whole state” as a potential site.

A whole-state strategy might be a more attractive option. Massachusetts prides itself on its highly educated workforce and its standing as home to dozens of other technology innovators.

That pitch has the virtue of glossing over some Boston negatives. The Seaport flooded in jaw-dropping fashion during a recent nor’easter. (Also known locally as the “Innovation District,” some locals refer to the area as the “Inundation District.”) Area residents fear that an HQ2 victory would drive up the metro region’s already astronomical housing prices and saddle new workers with a notoriously poor transportation system: