US cities are light on veterans

A Veterans day parade in Fairfield, Connecticut. Image: Getty.

Across the US, around one in 12 civilian adults are military veterans. Since the US ditched isolationism, the proportion of war veterans in the adult population has risen to 6.5 per cent.

That sounds like a lot – but what's even more interesting is how they're spread out. A recent study from real estate company Trulia shows that the concentration of veterans isn't consistent across the country. This diagram shows the percentage of veterans in different areas (the map's divided up according to the metropolitan areas defined by the US census). 

The darkest blue patches, which tend to be rural, have at least double the proportion of veterans of the palest, which include many of the country's biggest cities.

Moreover, when the researchers looked into concentrations in specific cities, they found that the proportion rises to one in five in smaller cities; in larger metropolitan areas, it falls to one in 20. When they cross-referenced city size with veteran density, they found that adult civilian populations in large, dense cities had around 6 per cent veterans, while small towns and rural areas averaged at around 11 per cent.:

So why are veterans urban-averse? One solution might lie in the location of military bases. Veterans are relatively likely to live near where they were based while still in active service: most people don't move town when they retire. And bases are rarely built in large cities: they require training space and accomodation for staff and officers, so a Manhattan skyscraper makes far less sense than a smaller town or city where land is cheap.

Also, while veterans' average age is somewhat lower than the general retired population (the median veteran age is currently 64), retirement communities attract their fair share of veterans, especially older vets who served in the Korean or Second World war. The survey found that the proportion of older veterans was highest in Florida, a state best-known for its retirement communities and Disney World. 

Overall, though, the character of the profession itself might offer the best explanation: those who join the military for its travel, physical activity and excitement probably don't lie in bed dreaming of  an overpriced, high-rise apartment and a job at an accountancy firm. 

 
 
 
 

Barnet council has decided a name for its new mainline station. Exciting!

Artist's impression of the new Brent Cross. Image: Hammerson.

I’ve ranted before about the horror of naming stations after the lines that they’re served by (screw you, City Thameslink). So, keeping things in perspective as ever, I’ve been quietly dreading the opening of the proposed new station in north London which has been going by the name of Brent Cross Thameslink.

I’ve been cheered, then, by the news that station wouldn’t be called that at all, but will instead go by the much better name Brent Cross West. It’s hardly the cancellation of Brexit, I’ll grant, but in 2017 I’ll take my relief wherever I can find it.

Some background on this. When the Brent Cross shopping centre opened besides the A406 North Circular Road in 1976, it was only the third large shopping mall to arrive in Britain, and the first in London. (The Elephant & Castle one was earlier, but smaller.) Four decades later, though, it’s decidedly titchy compared to newer, shinier malls such as those thrown up by Westfield – so for some years now, its owners, Hammerson, have wanted to extend the place.

That, through the vagaries of the planning process, got folded into a much bigger regeneration scheme, known as Brent Cross Cricklewood (because, basically, it extends that far). A new bigger shopping centre will be connected, via a green bridge over the A406, to another site to the south. There you’ll find a whole new town centre, 200 more shops, four parks, 4m square feet of offices space and 7,500 homes.

This is all obviously tremendously exciting, if you’re into shops and homes and offices and not into depressing, car-based industrial wastelands, which is what the area largely consists of at the moment.

The Brent Cross site. Image: Google.

One element of the new development is the new station, which’ll sit between Hendon and Cricklewood on the Thameslink route. New stations are almost as exciting as new shops/homes/offices, so on balance I'm pro.

What I’ve not been pro is the name. For a long time, the proposed station has been colloquially referred to as Brent Cross Thameslink, which annoys me for two reasons:

1) Route names make rubbish modifiers because what if the route name changes? And:

2) It’s confusing, because it’s nearly a mile from Brent Cross tube station. West Hampstead Thameslink (euch), by contrast, is right next to West Hampstead tube.

Various other names have been proposed for the station. In one newsletter, it was Brent Cross Parkway; on Wikipedia, it’s currently Brent Cross South, apparently through confusion about the name of the new town centre development.

This week, though, Barnet council quietly confirmed it’d be Brent Cross West:

Whilst the marketing and branding of BXS needs to be developed further, all parties agree that the station name should build upon the Brent Cross identity already established. Given the station is located to the west of Brent Cross, it is considered that the station should be named Brent Cross West. Network Rail have confirmed that this name is acceptable for operational purposes. Consequently, the Committee is asked to approve that the new station be named Brent Cross West.

Where the new station will appear on the map, marked by a silly red arrow. Image: TfL.

That will introduce another irritating anomaly to the map, giving the impression that the existing Brent Cross station is somehow more central than the new one, when in fact they’re either side of the development. And so:

Consideration has also been given as to whether to pursue a name change for the tube station from “Brent Cross” to “Brent Cross East”.

Which would sort of make sense, wouldn’t it? But alas:

However owing to the very high cost of changing maps and signage London-wide this is not currently being pursued.

This is probably for the best. Only a handful of tube stations have been renamed since 1950: the last was Shepherd’s Bush Market, which was until 2008 was simply Shepherd's Bush, despite being quite a long way from the Shepherd's Bush station on the Central line. That, to me, suggests that one of the two Bethnal Green stations might be a more plausible candidate for an early rename.


At any rate: it seems unlikely that TfL will be renaming its Brent Cross station to encourage more people to use the new national rail one any time soon. But at least it won’t be Brent Cross Thameslink.

Jonn Elledge is the editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and also has a Facebook page now for some reason. 

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