CityLab

  • Never (Baby) Trump
    Baby Trump may be coming home, and Americans—well, some of them, at least—couldn’t be more delighted about it.Baby Trump, of course, is the affectionate nickname given to the blimp launched by protesters during President Donald Trump’s visit to London last week. As the adult Trump met with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, Londoners mugged with a 20-foot inflatable balloon caricature floating around Parliament Square. A good time was had by all (except May).Now activists in New Jersey hope to launch a flotilla of four Baby Trump blimps, so that the president they abhor can be annoyed by them in his homeland. In no time flat, the group known as the People’s Motorcade crowdsourced $24,000 toward a plan to tour the country with les infants terribles. (The blimp’s British creators have raised even more.) But watch out! Trump supporters have pledged to pop the Babies Trump, and even launch some Make America Great Again balloons as countermeasures.There’s a trio of British museums looking to keep Baby Trump in London, however. The New York Times reports that the British Museum, the Museum of London, and the Bishopsgate Institute are all vying for Trump Baby, the official title for the original yuuge blimp. London might be resolutely #NeverTrump, but they’ve fallen hard for the Muppet Baby version.And who wouldn’t? Trump Baby depicts a diaper-clad Donald, his orange fulsomeness on full view. This emperor can’t even dress himself. The crabby baby clutches his smart phone like a toy rattle, ready to shake off another noisy tweet if he doesn’t get what he wants. Matthew Bonner, the graphic designer behind Trump Baby, told Dezeen that he used “the language of mockery, because this is the language that [Trump] understands.” He makes a smart point about public protest in London: Fearing that the streets would be shut down, Bonner looked for a statement that could rise above. The blimp didn’t completely dissuade Trump from coming to London—the president was always going to be more comfortable in Brexit country anyway—but it did send a message, one that the president apparently received. “I guess when they put out blimps to make me feel unwelcome, no reason for me to go to London,” he said in an interview with The Sun.    Like those naked Trump statues that activists installed in several U.S. cities during the summer of 2016, Baby Trump belongs to the burgeoning genre of political art designed to shame a man who is known for his shamelessness. But it might be the most visible and enduring effort yet. Baby Trump schwag already comes in all sizes online and could soon be museum bound. Baby Trump memes continue bouncing around social media. The blimp itself is like a floating festival, primed to draw crowds and cameras wherever it goes. The Resistance has escalated, quite literally, into the sky. Whether the blimp elevates the discourse is a different question.Baby Trump accessories. (Peter Nicholls/Reuters)It was a safe bet that this visual would not please a president who famously does not ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Friday, July 20, 2018By Kriston Capps
    1 day ago
  • A Community Restores Its Keith Haring Mural
    Welcome to the latest installation of “Public Access,” where CityLab shares its favorite videos—old and new, serious and nutty—that tell a story about place.Earlier this year in Amsterdam, a mural painted in 1986 year by the late artist Keith Haring was uncovered along a brick wall hidden behind aluminum insulation panels for years. Forgotten or unknown to most locals three decades after its completion, the mural’s discovery has been a source of excitement.It’s just one of the 32 known public murals around the world done by Haring, whose playful, socially conscious paintings endure as symbols of New York City’s exciting arts scene of the 1980s. The artist died at age 31 in 1990.But in Melbourne, a Haring mural nearly faded into obscurity without ever being hidden by a misguided makeover.As retold in Keith Haring Uncovered, a 2015 documentary by the Australian Broadcast Corporation, the artist’s celebrated visit to the Collingwood Technical School resulted in a stunning mural depicting a giant caterpillar with a computer for a head and a mass of humans trying to climb up to it. Haring’s charm and ease around kids is obvious in the documentary’s archival footage. Former students and teachers tracked down 30 years later still remember him fondly.Collingwood was an industrial, blue-collar neighborhood when Haring arrived, but gentrification has swept through recently, filling it up with art galleries and expensive real estate. The school closed in 1987. In 2004, the mural was added to the Victorian Heritage Register but it continued to deteriorate. A concerned local stole the small wooden door that contained Haring’s signature to spare it from further decay. In 2010, Creative Victoria, a state agency that advocates for local creative industries, took over management of the site and an effort to conserve the mural began as part of a plan to make the former school into the new Collingwood Arts Precinct.Today, the mural looks as fresh as it ever has, restored in 2014 by Antonio Rava, who is now responsible for the same task in Amsterdam. The anonymous door thief—one of the more rewarding interviews in Uncovered—returned the prized possession to its right place knowing that the mural’s fate appears to be in good hands now. ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Friday, July 20, 2018By Mark Byrnes
    1 day ago
  • Sweden Will Meet Its 2030 Green Energy Target 12 Years Early
    You can’t fault the Swedish Energy Agency for ambition: Last year, it decided to increase its target for renewable energy, aiming to produce an additional 18.4 terawatt hours per year by 2030. That’s a huge amount—it would be enough to provide all the power needs for the U.K.’s 66 million citizens for just under three days.It seems, however, that it won’t be met in 2030 after all. Instead, Sweden should reach the target by as early as the end of this year.Behind this unexpectedly rapid success lies a huge push for a more sustainable energy sector. Sweden already has a cross-party agreement to have all its energy needs met from renewable sources by 2040. To date, renewables’ share of energy consumption in Sweden has risen to as much as 57 percent of the total—in 2015, a year when strong winds and heavy rain made wind and hydroelectric power plants especially productive.By the end of this year, the country of 10 million should have 3,681 wind turbines producing power. So swift has been the proliferation of Swedish wind farms that the government is facing kickback on their site selection, both for the usual aesthetic reasons but also because they now threaten to encroach on airspace used by the military. Indeed, the expansion push has proved so effective that there are now fears that it might even risk shooting the renewable energy market in the foot.How has Sweden managed to go so far in an area where other countries continue to struggle, both with will and logistics? It’s certain that high public awareness of environmental issues, a strong economy, and effective governance have all helped. But Sweden’s commitment to renewables is also a response to specifically local conditions, both positive and negative.For a start, the country’s mountainous, rainy, and sparsely inhabited north made it an obvious place to experiment with that earliest of renewable energy sources, hydroelectric power. With ample suitable rivers crossing an area where dams caused little population displacement, the country has been producing hydroelectric power for over a century.Sweden still relied on cheap imported oil during most of the 20th century, making the shock of the 1973-4 oil crisis especially sharp. The impact of the crisis on the region isn’t always understood by people whose countries were partly shielded from it by their own oil and gas production. In neighboring and equally stricken Denmark, for example, it led to the wholesale replacement of domestic bathtubs with showers, and tubs are now a rarity in that country’s homes. Faced with spiraling energy prices and a desperate need to make energy savings, Sweden hunted round for locally-produced alternatives to oil.Following the spirit of the times, it decided nuclear energy was the answer. The Swedish attitude toward nuclear power has been ambivalent. After the 1979 leak at Three Mile Island, Sweden held a national referendum on nuclear energy, with the country voting to phase it out gradually. Since this phase-out did not include plants under construction, nuclear power’s share of the market ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Friday, July 20, 2018By Feargus O'Sullivan
    1 day ago
  • CityLab Daily: Think Outside the Bike Lane
    What We’re FollowingCrossroads: “Build better infrastructure” might be the most common refrain of urban bike advocacy. No doubt, protected bike lanes and street design are essential to cycling safety in a city. But pushing for infrastructure as an end in itself creates blind spots—especially because it may overlook other challenges to improving bike access for immigrants and people of color.In her upcoming book, Bicycle/Race: Transportation, Culture, & Resistance, urban anthropologist Adonia Lugo describes how cycling resembles a border, with different experiences for privileged and marginalized people. Drawing on her experiences as a biracial bike advocate in Portland, D.C., and Los Angeles, Lugo explains how “human infrastructure” could be key to bridging equity gaps, and argues that bike advocacy needs to also grapple with broader issues such as housing, policing, and economic justice. CityLab’s Tanvi Misra spoke with Lugo about what needs to be on the agenda to address bike advocacy’s blind spot.—Andrew SmallMore on CityLab Ozone Levels in Many U.S. National Parks Are Similar to Those in Large Cities Even in Big Sky Country, you can’t escape from air pollution. Nicole Javorsky A Family Dispute: Who Counts As Homeless? A bill designed to expand HUD’s recognition of homelessness reveals a split between advocates on who counts as the most vulnerable population. Rachel M. Cohen Could the Russians Hack the Census? Why national security experts want some answers as the Census Bureau prepares for its first electronic count in 2020. Kriston Capps Hong Kong’s Pedestrian Mecca Gets the Axe The raucous pedestrian zone in Mong Kok will reopen to vehicles, following hundreds of noise complaints. Mary Hui Hartford Trains Its Hopes for Renewal on Commuter Rail Connecticut’s new Hartford Line isn’t just a train: It’s supposed to be an engine for the capital city’s post-industrial transformation. Leonard Felson Grid Quirk(New York Public Library)Chaz Hutton has a delightful yarn on Twitter today about how New York’s street grid got its quirks. Starting as New Amsterdam, you can see the ad-hoc beginnings of a few grids appearing along Wall Street, but later development required a more coordinated plan, with the 1811 Commissioners’ Plan. At a certain point, the new commissioners’ plan begins to intersect with the older grids, producing New York’s distinctive triangular blocks. The story culminates in the city’s dispute with the Hess family over using their plot of land for a new subway station. While the city seized most of the property, it somehow missed a triangular plot of land not much larger than a pizza slice and covered in mosaic tiles. The family later refused to hand the plot over, creating the infamous “Triangle of Spite.”Also: We recommend Hutton’s “Map of Every City.”What We’re ReadingDemocrats push for big government response to soaring rents (Washington Post)Cities face tough bets on driverless cars (New York Times)Give ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Friday, July 20, 2018By Andrew Small
    1 day ago
  • Hong Kong’s Pedestrian Mecca Gets the Axe
    HONG KONG—At the heart of Mong Kok, one of the most densely populated neighborhoods in the world, is a 1,500-foot-long street that’s a bustling pedestrian zone on weekend nights. Spanning four city blocks, this strip of public space has long attracted buskers, photographers, dancers, acrobats, and people out for an entertaining stroll.But as of August 4, the pedestrian zone on Sai Yeung Choi Street South—first designated as such in 2000—will be no more. The reason: The street had gotten so loud and rowdy that police received more than 1,200 noise complaints about it last year.Spectators take photos of a singer on Sai Yeung Choi Street in May. (Vivek Prakash/AFP/Getty Images)The street had been closed to all vehicular traffic from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays and from noon to 10 p.m. on Sundays and public holidays. (Before 2014, it was closed evenings from Monday through Saturday and on public holidays, but that was scaled back to weekends and public holidays only.) Because of the noise complaints, the district council voted in May to end the pedestrian zone.The noise complaints are just the latest controversy to play out on this busy street, following scuffles between pro-China dance groups and anti-China “localist” protestors in 2015, and violent clashes between riot police and protestors in 2016.The shuttering of the pedestrian zone could mean a step backwards for the walkability of Hong Kong.Although it is compact, dense, and transit-oriented, with public transportation accounting for some 90 percent of daily passenger trips, Hong Kong remains car-focused in its design, and only in recent years has the government begun to push for a more pedestrian-friendly approach to urban planning.“Over the past few decades, the city planning and transport planning has prioritized the convenience of cars, focusing on maintaining traffic flow and motor speed,” said Simon Ng, a consultant who focuses on transportation and is the author of Global Cities: Urban Environments in Los Angeles, Hong Kong, and China.“The needs of cars have long been emphasized and prioritized” at the expense of pedestrians, he said.For now, the car rules on Hong Kong’s streets. The number of vehicles on the road has grown year on year, increasing by 35 percent between 2006 and 2016—“an alarming rate,” as the government put it in a report on worsening traffic congestion.Andy Yu, a district councilor who abstained from voting on the motion, is worried that the end of the Mong Kok pedestrian zone may set a precedent for closing down others around the city.“Hong Kong has more than 10 pedestrian zones,” he said. “What if district councils just cancelled pedestrian zones everywhere?”A man crosses Pedder Street in the financial district of Hong Kong. The number of vehicles on Hong Kong’s roads increased 35 percent between 2006 and 2016. (Bobby Yip/Reuters)Ng worries that city residents may now associate pedestrian zones with noise, and as a result, turn against calls for walkability. The key, he said, is better operation and management of pedestrian zones.On a recent Sunday evening, the Mong Kok zone ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Friday, July 20, 2018By Mary Hui
    1 day ago
  • Hartford Trains Its Hopes for Renewal on Commuter Rail
    On a recent Thursday morning, Emily Keeney, a 30-year-old digital marketer from Queens, N.Y., was aboard a train rolling through New Haven, riding to her family home in Somers, Connecticut, for her younger sister’s high-school graduation. In the same car, Omar Eton, a 60-year-old Hartford cancer specialist, was returning to his office after appearing on a local TV news show in New Haven. Also a passenger was Nate Evans, a 27-year-old dance teacher, who lives about 40 minutes from his job in Hartford.Together, they were among the first riders on the Hartford Line, the first commuter rail service to operate trains throughout the day through the cities of central Connecticut since the defunct New Haven Railroad stopped running in 1968. The new service, which launched on June 18, runs from Springfield, Massachusetts, to New Haven, making eight stops along the 62-mile Interstate 91 corridor. The full run takes about an hour and 20 minutes, with the Hartford-to-New-Haven stretch coming in around 40 minutes. During weekday rush hours, trains leave about every 30 minutes.It’s no high-tech bullet train, but boosters in Connecticut’s struggling capital hope that the Line can be the little engine that transforms the city, spurring transit-oriented development downtown and luring youthful new residents. And it’s only one part of a whole suite of infrastructural efforts aimed at bringing life to a city overdue for renewal.The new Hartford Line train is the first commuter rail service to connect Connecticut’s interior cities since 1968. (CityLab/David Montgomery)Hartford’s economic woes goes way back: Deindustrialization eroded the city’s factory base during the 20th century; riots in the late 1960s sped the flight of white residents and the middle class. By 1997, when the city’s lone big-league franchise, the Hartford Whalers of the National Hockey League, decamped for North Carolina, gloom had settled over the region’s communal psyche. In 2017, the insurance giant Aetna vowed to flee as well (then reversed itself), and Hartford famously flirted with bankruptcy. A last-minute state bailout saved the day, but lawmakers failed to address what city officials say are fundamental flaws in a municipal tax structure that makes it all but impossible to achieve fiscal stability. Hartford’s poverty rate of 31.2 percent is four times the rate of the surrounding suburbs.Commuter rail has long been mulled as a possible solution. Its roots date back nearly 25 years, when Connecticut’s Department of Transportation undertook a feasibility study on renewing passenger service through the Connecticut River Valley. Leading the push for more trains was the Capitol Region Council of Governments, or CRCOG (pronounced “Crog” by locals), a metropolitan planning organization for the 1 million residents of 38 towns and cities across the 800-square-mile Hartford area. The group argued that commuter rail would improve the critical connection to New Haven and reduce traffic on often-congested Interstate 91. Others advocates and studies claimed it would make the region and state’s business climate more competitive by strengthening the link to New York City and other booming Northeast metros.Importantly, the Hartford Line could also ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Friday, July 20, 2018By Leonard Felson
    1 day ago
  • Could the Russians Hack the Census?
    The U.S. is planning an experiment in democracy: The 2020 census will be the first in the nation’s history to be conducted electronically. The Census Bureau expects more households than not to participate in the process online using computers and even smartphones.By ditching paper questionnaires, the bureau hopes to cut costs, streamline operations, and modernize the constitutionally mandated decennial count. But the decision to go from analog to digital couldn’t come at a worse time. Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election has raised root-level questions about the government’s readiness (and willingness) to shore up its cybersecurity protocols ahead of the midterms.That’s why a murderer’s row of national security experts wrote to Commerce Department Secretary Wilbur Ross and Census Bureau Acting Director Ron Jarmin this week to ask for details about the bureau’s strategy for protecting its data. Putting sensitive data about every American within the potential reach of a foreign power’s hackers could undermine public confidence in the census—or worse.“There’s a motive out there for certain adversaries to obtain personal identifying information, whether it’s for criminal purposes, as we’ve seen with identity theft and stealing of credit-card information, or whether it’s nation-state adversaries for other purposes,” says Mary McCord, former acting assistant attorney general for national security at the Department of Justice.McCord is now a visiting professor at Georgetown Law and a senior litigator in Georgetown’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection, which arranged the memo. She and 10 other experts—all former career civil servants and political appointees from the National Security Council, National Security Agency, Department of Homeland Security, and other federal agencies—signed the letter to “urge the leadership of the Bureau and of the Department of Commerce to share publicly their plans for protecting information vital to the future of American voting but also tempting for adversaries that seek to harm our country and its foundational democratic processes.”To conduct the 2020 count, the Census Bureau aims to use electronic methods to both collect and store the data. That means these data are vulnerable to threats both in transmission and at rest. Even paper questionnaires face potential risks as they’re scanned, uploaded, and stores in databases. Even if none of these external threats come to bear, the public perception that the census isn’t safe is a threat itself.  The Georgetown letter outlines two broad concerns with the next census. One is transparency. Response rates to the survey live or die by the public’s trust in the process. For example, critics fear that the addition of an untested citizenship question may undermine public confidence in the 2020 census, leading to a potential undercount of vulnerable or hard-to-reach populations. Similarly, if the public comes to believe that the decennial count isn’t secure, they may decline to participate. The Census Bureau has not responded publicly to requests from Congress or public-interest groups about its security protocols.A more direct concern is that the bureau may be unprepared for an attack on census data. Danger can take multiple forms, including threats that the bureau ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Friday, July 20, 2018By Kriston Capps
    1 day ago
  • Help Us Shape CityLab
    Hey, reader! We need your help. CityLab relies on you to shape our work. Now is the time to tell us what you think by taking our annual survey.We want to hear from you, whether you are a regular reader, a sometimes reader, or an aspiring reader interested in adding more coverage about cities, localities, and urban issues to your media diet.It only takes five to 10 minutes to complete. (Seriously.) It will be crucial to helping us understand who you are, what you like and don’t like about our site, and how we can improve your experience.Click here to take the survey. And thank you! ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Friday, July 20, 2018By Nicole Flatow
    2 days ago
  • Bike Advocacy’s Blind Spot
    Adonia Lugo grew up in a Latino barrio of Orange County, California, as a biracial child of a Mexican father and a white American mother. Growing up, she felt a constant sense of being at a border—code switching between two identities. She felt privileged in some ways, and marginalized in others, and developed a keen sense of where she fit within America’s racial hierarchy.That experience informs her work as a bike advocate. “Being on a bicycle, that experience of marginality you get of, one, not being treated so great by your fellow road users, and two, seeing those cracks in the city—these opportunities that other people aren't necessarily seeing—that just really mirrored the marginality I've had in terms of my racial background,” she says. “For me, the bicycle became a part of this overall injustice I carry around."Her research as an urban anthropologist and her 10 years as a bike advocate in L.A., Portland, and Washington, D.C., have prompted Lugo to needle the bike advocacy community with tough prods: its lack of diversity, its one-size-fits-all strategy, and the side effects of the some of the infrastructure measures it pushes for. Because of these blind spots, people—particularly those for whom biking may be the only affordable way to get around—are routinely overlooked, she argues in her new book Bicycle/Race: Transportation, Culture, & Resistance. Lugo’s book comes at a time when cities are grappling with stubborn racial gaps in their bikeshare initiatives, and biking communities are recognizing that Vision Zero and other laws seeking to curb crashes can have an adverse effect on communities of color. Meanwhile, voices pushing for a more inclusive bike agenda are getting louder.CityLab caught up with Lugo for a conversation, the highlights of which are below:How did you end up becoming a bike advocate?In 2007, I came back to Southern California from Portland, which is considered a very bike-friendly city; I'd become a bike commuter up there. In Portland, riding a bike was treated like no big deal—a no brainer. Like, “This is better for the environment, you're not relying on putting gas in your car, so, OK, cool—if you can make it work, great!” Whereas in Southern California, a place where we have excellent weather and relatively few hilly neighborhoods, people reacted to me and others on a bicycle in just a really hostile way.At the same time, in Southern California and Portland, the people who were on bikes looked different. In Portland, which is majority white, most of the people on bikes were white. Whereas here in Southern California, with the exception of hipster young people—and that's how I would have identified myself at the time—most of the people I saw riding were black and Latino men. You could tell that biking, for them, was an attractive transportation option because it was cheap.It made me think: How does the way we react to transportation fit in with these other hierarchies around race and class? When I starting mapping how we have tied race to space ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Thursday, July 19, 2018By Tanvi Misra
    2 days ago
  • A Family Dispute: Who Counts As Homeless?
    Is homelessness in America surging or ebbing? It depends not only upon where you are, but who you ask—and what, precisely, you’re looking for.Should you live in a big, high-cost city like Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Seattle, you’d be forgiven for assuming that the number of people living in homelessness is exploding: In those metros, tent cities full of those priced out by soaring housing costs have created a major crisis for local leaders. Overall national figures from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, however, tell a different story. At the end of 2017, HUD announced that with the exception of really expensive areas, homelessness had continued to decline across the United States, a 13.1 percent decrease since 2010. When it came to families with children experiencing homelessness, HUD reported a drop of 5.4 percent since 2016, continuing a 27 percent decline since 2010.And yet according to many homeless service providers, these HUD figures belie not only their experience, but also data collected by other federal agencies, which use less narrow definitions for homelessness. For example, the U.S. Department of Education counted 1.2 million students experiencing homelessness in 2015—a 19 percent increase from the 2010-11 school year. The number of children experiencing homelessness reported by Head Start, which is administered through the Department of Health and Human Services, nearly doubled between 2006 and 2016. While popular portrayals of the homeless typically feature individuals living on the streets or in shelters, advocates say there’s a growing crisis of family homelessness in the U.S., one that’s been rendered invisible by HUD’s refusal to count those in need who are living in motels or doubling up with others. Now a bill is before Congress, the Homeless Children and Youth Act, that would seek to address this problem. Introduced by Senators Diane Feinstein and Rob Portman, and Representatives Steve Stivers and Dave Loebsack, the legislation would amend HUD’s definition of homelessness to align it with other federal agencies, thereby allowing more families to qualify for HUD’s services. Qualifying doesn’t mean necessarily receiving assistance, but it means eligible children and parents could be assessed for HUD services based on a variety of “vulnerability” measures. Supporters of the legislation say this would provide a more accurate picture of the state of homelessness in the United States, and help better steer limited resources to those who are most in need. As it currently stands, HUD’s rules and regulations effectively exclude those not living in shelters or on the streets from qualifying for homeless assistance. But not all advocates for the homeless agree. The legislation, which was discussed in a House Financial Services subcommittee hearing last month, has a powerful opponent: the National Alliance to End Homelessness, a national organization that provides data and research to policymakers and technical assistance to community providers.The heart of the dispute involves how HUD gets its numbers on homelessness: Every year, on a night in late January, communities all over the U.S. go out and literally count the number ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Thursday, July 19, 2018By Rachel M. Cohen
    2 days ago
  • CityLab Daily: No, the ‘War on Poverty’ Isn’t Over
    Keep up with the most pressing, interesting, and important city stories of the day. Sign up for the CityLab Daily newsletter here.***What We’re FollowingWar is over?: Last week, the White House Council of Economic Advisors declared that the War On Poverty was “largely over and a success.” That declaration might come as a surprise to the millions of American children who benefit from safety-net programs for food, housing, and healthcare, and who are still living in what looks and feels a lot like poverty.While Congress has yet to pass cuts to aid, we’re already seeing a downward trend in spending for children in the federal budget. As the Trump administration emphasizes “self-sufficiency” and work requirements, economists say we could be squandering our investment in the next generation. CityLab’s Kriston Capps has the story: The ‘War on Poverty’ Isn’t Over, and Kids Are LosingSurvey says: Help shape our work by taking our annual audience survey. Your feedback is essential to making the site better for you.—Andrew SmallMore on CityLab How Cars Divide America Car dependence not only reduces our quality of life, it’s a crucial factor in America’s economic and political divisions. Richard Florida Summer of Scams, Apartment Rental Edition Tenant beware: Some cities are hotbeds of rental fraud, and Millennials are the most vulnerable targets. Sarah Holder Munich Wants a Gondola (Not a Tourist Attraction) In a flat city with good transit, a proposed overhead line could close a gap in the existing network. Here's what the plan gets right. Feargus O'Sullivan Seeing the Beauty in Ukraine’s Soviet Architecture The authors of an upcoming book on the nation’s most threatened buildings have a dramatic short film that makes a case for preservation. Karim Doumar Can Florida’s Toxic Algae Be Stopped? The algae blooms pose risks to humans and marine animals—and to Florida’s tourism-dependent economy. Rebecca Renner Emission Control(America’s Pledge)It’s been one year since the Trump administration withdrew from the Paris Agreement on climate change, but there’s still a lot that can be done to improve our climate footprint. Bloomberg Philanthropies has some ideas in its annual America’s Pledge report for reducing emissions from electricity, fuel use in buildings, and transportation. The charts above show how much those sectors make up of the total greenhouse gas emissions produced by the United States in 2016.According to the report, 42 percent of the country’s electricity consumption occurs in the 1,400 cities in the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and two-thirds of miles traveled by American drivers are in urban areas. From clean energy to mass transit, there are plenty of ways cities can fight climate change in the near-term, even without the federal government. Related: If the U.S. Won’t Keep the Paris Agreement, Can Cities and States?What We’re ReadingUnder Trump, transit expansion projects are starving for federal funds (Streetsblog)Let ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Thursday, July 19, 2018By Andrew Small
    2 days ago
  • Summer of Scams, Apartment Rental Edition
    In case you haven’t heard, we are officially in the summer of scams. There’s the fake German socialite racketeer who stole thousands before ending up in Rikers. There’s the mattress-ordering, private-plane-chartering, nepotism-wielding cabinet member who resigned, eventually, in disgrace. And of course there’s the still-unraveling “epic grift” that may lurk behind the current presidency.Then there are the more run-of-the-mill ripoffs that have become part of the background noise of modern life, like apartment rental fraud. Think fake Craigslist deals and Zillow listings for apartments that don’t exist. In many cases, phantom landlords ask for application fees and deposits from aspiring renters before agreeing to show the place, then vanish with the cash. These kinds of advance-fee scams are all too common in the digital age, and the apartment market is no different: A new survey from ApartmentList indicates that 6.4 percent of renters have lost money in scams like this.Unlike time-share or vacation rental schemes, which tend to target susceptible older buyers, Millennials are more likely to find themselves bilked while trying to rent an apartment: According to the report, “renters aged 19 to 29 are 42 percent more likely to have lost money due to rental fraud.” A little more than 10 percent of this age cohort has been victimized, and a third of them have lost $1,000 or more.While rates of fraud were higher than researchers had initially anticipated, responses were drawn from a sample of fewer than 2,000 renters, and there isn’t much historical data to measure trend growth against. But since these scams are targeting younger, more vulnerable renters, the stakes of identifying them are high. “We think that younger renters and those who are more desperate for a deal are both more likely to be scammed and to be hit harder by the scam,” said Sydney Bennet, an author of the report. “If you’re really struggling to find an apartment you can afford and you lose on a fake deposit, you might not have enough money for the next apartment.”Common tricks include the “Bait and Switch,” where tenants show up to a rental address and it looks nothing like the apartment they saw—and paid for—online, or the “Phantom Rental,” where landlords make up places entirely to secure a deposit or a social security number, then ghost. Some landlords just copy legit ads from building websites and copy them verbatim into new Craigslist postings, changing only the contact info. Others try to rent out apartments that are already filled, cashing in on application fees with no intention of actually leasing rooms out. A few renters said they’d actually moved into a building only to be kicked out a few months later, after realizing their landlord had sold them an apartment with the knowledge that it would soon be foreclosed upon. Landlords lie to tenants about amenities like heat, A/C, rooftop patios, or laundry (which ApartmentList recently deemed the “hardest amenity to find” on the current rental market). Apartment fraud victims are also in danger of having ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Thursday, July 19, 2018By Sarah Holder
    2 days ago
  • Ozone Levels in Many U.S. National Parks Are Similar to Those in Large Cities
    Even in the awe-inspiring canyons of Yellowstone and mountains of Yosemite, the fresh air may not be so fresh: Concentrations of ozone in many U.S. national parks are similar to levels in America’s largest metropolitan areas, according to a new study in Science Advances by researchers at Iowa State University and Cornell University.Back in 1990, the biggest U.S. metro areas had higher average ozone concentrations and more exceedance days (when the EPA deems ozone levels unhealthy for sensitive groups) than national parks. But by the early 2000s, the study notes, ozone concentrations were “nearly identical” in national parks and large metro areas. In cities, average summer ozone levels decreased by more than 13 percent from 1990 to 2014. The same metric for national parks increased from 1990 to the early 2000s, but declined to 1990 levels by 2014.Average annual ozone concentrations in top 20 metros and national parks. (From Keiser et al., Science Advances, July 18, 2018. This work is licensed under CC BY-NC)The researchers noted that these trends align with the timing of federal regulatory efforts, namely the Clean Air Act (CAA) Amendments of 1990 (mostly focused on pollution in urban areas) and the EPA’s Regional Haze Rule (centered on national parks).The study’s authors looked at 33 national parks across the U.S., including the largest and most visited in the NPS system, such as Acadia, the Great Smoky Mountains, Yellowstone, and Yosemite. The 20 largest metro areas, led by New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston, were selected based on 2015 population estimates.Sequoia National Park had the highest average ozone concentration of the parks studied, and its trend for exceedance days is similar to that of Los Angeles—the city with the highest ozone levels.Exceedance days at Sequoia National Park and in Los Angeles. (From Keiser et al., Science Advances, July 18, 2018. This work is licensed under CC BY-NC)Ground-level ozone is the main ingredient in smog. It is created by chemical reactions between nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds (VOC) in sunlight. Common sources of nitrogen oxides and VOC include emissions from industrial facilities and electric utilities, motor vehicle exhaust, and gasoline vapors. Ground-level ozone is different from stratospheric ozone, or “good” ozone, which appears naturally in the upper atmosphere.The study found that national parks had fewer visitors on days with poor visibility, presumably because some people followed air-quality warnings. Ozone exposure is associated with respiratory symptoms and increased hospitalization rates, and exposure during exercise worsens the effects.Although the Clean Air Act (CAA) Amendments of 1990 expanded regulation of toxic chemicals to fight acid rain, urban air pollution, and toxic air emissions, the efforts largely centered on places where many people live. Substantive efforts to address air quality in national parks did not materialize until 1999, when the EPA created the Regional Haze Rule, which called for state and federal agencies to work together on the issue. This April, President Trump directed former EPA head Scott Pruitt to review the Regional Haze program. The rule has been controversial with ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Thursday, July 19, 2018By Nicole Javorsky
    2 days ago
  • How Cars Divide America
    Urbanists have long looked at cars as the scourge of great places.  Jane Jacobs identified the automobile as the “chief destroyer of American communities.” Cars not only clog our roads and cost billions of dollars in time wasted commuting, they are a terrible killer. They caused more than 40,000 deaths in 2017, including of some 6,000 pedestrians and cyclists.But in the United States, the car plays a fundamental role in structuring the economy, our daily lives, and the political and social differences that separate us.Writing from prison in the 1930s, the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci dubbed our modern economic system Fordism—invoking the system of automotive production developed by Henry Ford. On the factory floor, Fordism described the powerful synthesis of scientific management and the moving assembly line, which revolutionized industrial production. Applied to the economy, the term captured Ford’s move to higher pay for his workers—the famous $5-a-day wage—that enabled them to buy the cars they produced. At a broader societal level, Fordism catalyzed the shift to a mass suburbanized society.As Ford himself once put it: “We shall solve the city problem by leaving the city.” The car enabled the American suburban dream, prompting the relocation of the middle class, industry, and business from the city. In doing so, it helped shape the relatively short-lived era of post-World War II prosperity and the rise of a stable, blue-collar middle class, stoking economic demand for the products coming off the country’s assembly lines.But today, the car plays a central role in worsening America’s social, political, and economic divides.This can be seen in a simple statistical-correlation analysis by my colleague and frequent collaborator Charlotta Mellander. Mellander ran correlations for the share of workers who drive their cars to work alone, along with three other types of commuting: taking transit to work; walking to work; and biking to work. She compared these to certain key features of our economic and political geography, including income, education, and occupational class; population size and density; and political affiliation and voting.As usual, I point out that correlation in no way infers causation, but simply points to associations between variables. (All of the correlations reported below are statistically significant.)She found sharp differences between metropolitan areas where a high share of people drive their cars alone to work and those where greater shares of people take transit, walk, or bike there. These are especially striking in the light of the fact that an overwhelming share of Americans—85 percent of us—drive alone to our jobs. Also, car dependence encompasses both liberals and conservatives: 73 percent of independents, 86 percent of Republicans, and more than three-quarters of Democrats say that they depend on their cars to get to work.The key is not individuals’ car use, but the way we sort into communities based on our reliance on cars.For one, the geography of car use tracks with income and wealth: Car-dependent places are considerably less affluent. Metros in which a higher share of people depend on their cars to get to work ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Thursday, July 19, 2018By Richard Florida
    3 days ago
  • What Can a Gondola Do for Munich?
    In Munich, the future of public transit might be up in the air. This month, the city is discussing a plan to create a new 4.5-kilometer gondola link in the northern part of the city, linking two districts on the internal beltway that are currently poorly connected for everyone except drivers.Supported by the mayor, the regional transit minister, and even the opposition parties in the city’s assembly, it’s a plan that has a strong likelihood of being built.It’s still perhaps a little unexpected: Munich is a flat city with a good public transit network. Gondolas have a mixed reputation, having both transformed mobility in some very hilly cities while failing to be more than gimmicky white elephants in others. So would Munich’s embrace of the gondola be a good or a bad thing? And why would the city even need one in the first place?The fact is that even the better public transit systems have their limitations. Munich’s subway (U Bahn), Suburban rail (S Bahn), and tram networks offer good coverage of the area, but they all focus primarily on getting people in and out of the city center. This is fine for commuters, but can pose an inconvenience for people in outlying districts who simply want to travel between two adjacent neighborhoods. Bus routes compensate for this, but their speed and efficiency is dependent on road traffic.The gondola poses a solution to a small local issue that could, if effective, be rolled out at other sites in the city. The proposed link would connect two subway stations (at Oberwiesenfeld and Studentenstadt) that sit 4.5 kilometers apart on a major road. Despite being close to each other, it’s time-consuming to travel between them, requiring a five-stop subway trip toward the city center, a transfer, and a five-stop trip back out in a different direction.The gondola could knit these two districts tidily together. Sailing over the road, the wires would be far cheaper to install than the terrestrial rails of a train or tram, but still ferry up to 4,000 passengers an hour. Land-wise, the gondola would only take up the space that’s necessary to support its towers. Indeed, the road it would follow already has space for these in the median. To make it a fully functioning link, it’s vital that each terminus connects swiftly to the subway, but broadly the idea seems sensible.Similar projects elsewhere in Europe—where urban gondolas are still in their infancy—suggest grounds for cautious optimism. France in particular has embraced the mode with enthusiasm, with five gondola projects currently under construction and due for opening before 2021. The gondola that the French city of Brest opened across its river in November 2016, for example, celebrated its millionth passenger last month—not bad for a metro area of only 300,000 people. Initially resisted by some residents for fear it would provide unwelcome views into people’s houses, Brest resolved the issue ingeniously by installing windows that misted temporarily when the cars neared people’s homes. London’s Emirates Air Line nonetheless ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Thursday, July 19, 2018By Feargus O'Sullivan
    3 days ago
  • MapLab: The Map Is a Feedback Loop
    Welcome to the latest edition of MapLab. Sign up to receive this newsletter in your inbox here.Orient yourself: A smarter “smart city”Perhaps you’ve heard that the future of cities lies on the internet. Buildings, streetlights, roads, and sewers will be blanketed with wifi-connected sensors, tuned to gather vital signs of the urban environment and our movements within it. At least that’s according to many a “smart city” product pitch from the likes of Alphabet, IBM, Cisco, and others.The uneasy part is what happens with the information, collected by gunshot scanners, traffic detectors, even public wifi kiosks. It’s not that governments necessarily intend to do anything nefarious with people’s data. But “smart cities” are usually designed from the top-down with predetermined objectives, be it surveillance, prediction, science, or profit.Waste travels in Seattle. (Senseable City Lab)Carlo Ratti, an Italian architect, urban designer, engineer, and theorist, sees that heavily internet-ed future differently. I spent an afternoon with Ratti in May at the Senseable City Lab, his research consortium at MIT—you can read my profile of him here. He develops urban data-gathering projects where sensors interact with people and the environment in a more open-ended feedback loop, rather than in pursuit of particular outcomes. Take his exploratory sewage probes that somewhat inadvertently uncovered a new way to track opioid abuse. “It wasn’t supposed to solve anything. It was more like, what we can discover?” Ratti told me. Or take the GPS trackers tagged to bits of garbage that revealed the surprisingly broad pathways of American waste. Above, a map of a local trash route in Seattle.A view of Boston’s tree canopy coverage on Treepedia. (Treepedia)There are often gorgeous mapping components to Ratti’s work, rooted as it tends to be in cities. Above, behold a visualization of Boston’s “Green View Index,” part of his lab’s “Treepedia” project, which gathered satellite imagery to determine the quality of canopy coverage in cities around the world. The idea was to help people get smarter about the living, breathing infrastructure around them, and possibly pique their interest in protecting it. A positive feedback loop, indeed.Compass points: Inside the 100-mile zoneWith the help of ESRI, CityLab’s Tanvi Misra recently mapped the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s “100-mile-zone,” a wide belt of American soil where CBP agents are allowed to detain, search, and seize individuals, including on the basis of race.The zone happens to contain a whopping two-thirds of the U.S. population. But after Tanvi published the story, she got a lot of questions asking why all of Michigan was in there, too. After all, a portion of the state lies far beyond the 100-mile line from the U.S.-Canada border, as the crow flies.In the zone. (CityLab/Esri)In other words, when the government decides where to patrol “the border,” how does it decide where it is? Turns out, it makes up the answer. Exclusively for MapLab, Tanvi writes an update: This issue came up in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in 2016. In the complaint, the plaintiffs ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Wednesday, July 18, 2018By Laura Bliss
    3 days ago
  • The ‘War on Poverty’ Isn’t Over, and Kids Are Losing
    Raise the banners and strike up the band, because the “War on Poverty” is won. Mission accomplished! And that means it’s time to hack down the safety net that saved the nation’s poor.That was the head-turning takeaway from a report last week from the White House Council of Economic Advisors that declared the War on Poverty “largely over and a success.” The report diverged sharply from what even other Republicans say about poverty, to say nothing of economists. (“Do these people ever visit the real world?” Paul Krugman asked.)But while the language marked a rhetorical reversal of the usual conservative efforts to undo Johnson-era programs designed to aid low-income Americans—which hinge on the conceit that federal aid is wasteful, not that it nailed it—the intent is largely the same. This was an argument for work requirements in welfare, one of the Trump administration’s top domestic priorities.The Trump administration’s declaration might also come as a surprise to the millions of American children (still) living in what looks and feels a lot like poverty. Kids are major beneficiaries of most safety-net programs for food, housing, and healthcare. Some 44 percent of the people who receive food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program are children, for example. Cutting spending on poverty means cutting spending on kids—a downward trend that is already happening. ...While poverty has been decreasing, especially once using the most accurate measure which is based on consumption (including government benefits) pic.twitter.com/gTvj2nZ9OU — CEA (@WhiteHouseCEA) July 12, 2018Declaring an end to the war on poverty allows federal agencies to pivot to other goals, namely “self-sufficiency,” which is a watchword for setting strict work requirements for aid. Congress has yet to pass draconian cuts to aid, but spending on children is already declining, even as overall federal spending continues to rise since the Great Recession. A new report from the Urban Institute finds that by 2020, the federal government will spend more on interest payments on its debt than it pays to provide support for children.Children will receive just one cent of every dollar from the projected $1.6 trillion increase in federal spending authorized under the Trump administration, according to the report. And over the next decade, the children’s share of the budget will drop from 9.4 percent to 6.9 percent.That dip is happening even without factoring in the changes now being proposed by chief White House economic advisor Gary Cohn and company—those who argue that poverty’s a thing of the past. If and when work requirements and cuts to aid are implemented, the outlook for kids will only get darker.“If we spend less on children, we’re investing less in the next generation,” says Julia Isaacs, senior fellow at the Urban Institute. “We want children to be well fed, well housed, and well educated.”Isaacs, the co-author of the Urban Institute’s report on current and future federal expenditures on children, adds that cutting spending on kids has implications for future growth. “We can think of children as human capital, if we want to ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Wednesday, July 18, 2018By Kriston Capps
    3 days ago
  • CityLab Daily: Inclusionary Zoning: What Is It, and How Does It Work?
    Keep up with the most pressing, interesting, and important city stories of the day. Sign up for the CityLab Daily newsletter here.***What We’re FollowingSummer school: If you’re an avid urbanist, the odds are good that you’ve encountered the term “inclusionary zoning” at some point. And if you’re like me, you probably nodded along without actually asking, “wait, what’s that mean exactly?” Well fear not, reader, CityLab University is here to explain it all. (Madison McVeigh/CityLab)Benjamin Schneider gives an intro course on inclusionary zoning, walking us through the history of the affordable housing policy and how leaders have used it to address city segregation. This syllabus comes packed with frequently asked questions, a case study, viewpoints, a toolkit, and a reading list—explaining all the acronyms and jargon along the way. Even if you’re already an expert, keep it on hand to share with people you know who could use the lesson: CityLab University presents: Inclusionary Zoning.Let us know what you think of our pilot endeavor and what you’d like to study up on next: Drop us a line at hello@citylab.comAndrew SmallMore on CityLab Cities and the Vertical Economy Vertical clustering—of certain high-status industries on the higher floors of buildings, for example—is an important part of urban agglomeration. Richard Florida Dockless Bikesharing Hits New York City’s Transit-Hungry Fringes The strategy: Keep free-range riders off Citi Bike’s turf. John Surico The Surprising Fortunes of a Metro Expansion What urban archaeologists found underneath Amsterdam as workers dug out the new Noord/Zuidlijn line. Michaela Cavanagh Mobile Home Co-ops: A Lifeline Against Displacement When a landlord sells a mobile home park, it can upend an entire community. By banding together, residents are finding a way to stay where they live and control their rent costs. Hallie Golden When Portland’s Nuclear Defense Drill Was Televised Credits for the 1957 CBS airing of The Day Called ‘X’  list the cast as “the people of the city of Portland, Oregon.” City officials, including the mayor, got lead roles. Carl Abbott What We’re ReadingHeat makes you dumb, in four charts (Washington Post)I tried to fall asleep at a nap bar (Fast Company)Rising seas could cause problems for internet infrastructure (NPR)Senators want to sneak safety exemptions for self-driving cars into law (Streetsblog)A photography project, by homeless people (The Guardian)Tell your friends about the CityLab Daily! Forward this newsletter to someone who loves cities and encourage them to subscribe. Send your own comments, feedback, and tips to hello@citylab.com. ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Wednesday, July 18, 2018By Andrew Small
    3 days ago
  • Mobile Home Co-ops: A Lifeline Against Displacement
    More than a decade after Jim Wallace moved into a small mobile home community in Duvall, Washington, he said the landlord threatened to sell the property and possibly make everyone leave. Wallace had been living there since 1982. He didn’t want to move. He also didn’t think he could afford to.If he tried to move his 14-foot, single-wide mobile home, it “would fold up like a cardboard box,” he said. Wallace didn’t own the land he was on; like his neighbors, he was renting it. Leaving the community would probably have meant dropping his home off at the dump and leaving Duvall, where he has lived in his entire life, in order to find a cheap apartment somewhere farther north.  “I was doing some pacing on the floor,” said Wallace, now a 71-year-old retired manufacturing engineer.But by 2012, everything changed. Once again, there was concern that the landlord was going to sell, but this time Wallace and the other members of the 25-home community had a plan. For years, the residents had wrestled with the fact that they have little to no say in the park’s long-term future. So in July, they wrote a letter to the landlord, expressing their concern. “We wanted assurance that our homes would be safe for us to enjoy in the future,” said Katy Bowen, president of the Duvall Riverside Village’s board of directors and one of its residents. The next month, the landlord sent them a letter offering to sell them the property.The entrance to the Duvall Riverside Village. (Hallie Golden)They formed a co-op, got a loan, and bought the 4.5-acre land, about 25 miles northeast of Seattle, for $1.18 million. With that, they officially became Duvall Riverside Village. Now any household can pay the one-time membership fee of $200 to become part of the co-op that owns the land. In other words, the residents were given the long-term security and financial stability that is so often unavailable at a mobile home park.Manufactured home communities have a long history of providing low-cost housing in the U.S., where residents drive their homes in, secure them, and pay a monthly rent to stay on the owner’s land. These homes are typically the least expensive option when it comes to unsubsidized housing, serving households with a median annual income of about $30,000, according to the Manufactured Housing Institute, a national trade organization. Today, about 22 million people in the U.S. live in these homes. On average, they pay a gross housing cost of $564 per month, compared to $1,057 per month for people living in homes or apartments, according to Apartment List.But residents in most states find there are few protections to prevent them from being kicked out of mobile home parks at an owner’s or developer’s whim. If the land value increases, the owner might be tempted to sell, and residents in many places aren’t entitled to such protections as an advanced notice to vacate or money to cover relocation costs. As a result, an increasing ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Wednesday, July 18, 2018By Hallie Golden
    4 days ago
  • When Portland’s Nuclear Defense Drill Was Televised
    Welcome to the latest installation of “Public Access,” where CityLab shares its favorite videos—old and new, serious and nutty—that tell a story about place.Portland, Oregon, was already a television star a half century before Portlandia. On December 8, 1957, CBS aired The Day Called ‘X’, a documentary style dramatization showing the city responding to an impeding nuclear attack from Soviet bombers arcing over Alaska.The 27-minute film opens with wailing air raid sirens wailing and Portland’s mayor speeding to an emergency headquarters. It then cuts to an introduction by actor Glenn Ford, who sets the serious tone and provides the narrative voice-over. Viewers see the beginning of “an average day in an average American city,” with paper routes, breakfast routines, men at work, and kindergarteners in their classroom. Five and a half minutes into the film—at 10:32 am on a clear sunny day—the news breaks that bombers are a little more than three hours away. Portland springs into action: City workers know their jobs, hospitals evacuate, children hurry home from school, a mom calmly packs four kids into her sedan to head beyond the radiation zone. Downtown empties as drivers follow the rules and traffic flows smoothly outward at a steady 15 mph. The story cuts periodically to the operations center where police, fire, engineering, and health officials share updates. The story ends three hours after it starts—the sirens sound again, evacuation stops, and people take cover with bombers supposedly overhead, leaving viewers to contemplate what might happen next to a city “the size of Hiroshima.”Portland had already shown its enthusiasm for civil defense. Two years earlier the city and state had staged the preparedness drill Operation Greenlight, which provided a template for the 1957 script. On September 27, 1955, 101,000 Portlanders evacuated 1,000 blocks in the center of the city and headed for dispersed reception centers as they followed flashing green traffic lights that marked escape routes. The exercise mobilized medical personnel, highway crews, and emergency responders at staging centers 20-30 miles outside the city center and even designated the number of evacuees that would be assigned to each Oregon county.The city cooperated with the filming. The credits list the cast as “the people of the city of Portland Oregon,” playing themselves. Portland officials got lead roles. Mayor Terry Schrunk, in the first of four terms, acquitted himself well in front of the cameras. The city made its new emergency command center available for dramatic scenes in which civil defense workers track the approach of the bombers on a giant wall map. Built into a hillside six miles from downtown, the Kelly Butte Control Center could accommodate three hundred people for up to a week with its own power, telephone system, and air filtration.Portland was an ideal city for testing out civil defense efforts—an adamantly ordinary place that served the farm and forest industries of the Pacific Northwest, ran regional resources through mils and factories, and shipped their output from the region’s busiest port. Portlanders were overwhelmingly white, conservative, and ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Wednesday, July 18, 2018By Carl Abbott
    4 days ago
  • Can Florida’s Toxic Algae Be Stopped?
    Toxic blue-green algae has bloomed again in Lake Okeechobee, Florida’s largest lake, an outbreak so severe that Governor Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency in seven counties. While the term “algae bloom” might not sound dangerous, it is an outbreak of cyanobacteria that presents a significant risk to public health.In early July, the bloom was reported to cover more than 90 percent of Lake Okeechobee’s surface. The green sludge has crept outward from the lake and filled waterways with a putrid sludge that locals say smells like mold. News reports are warning residents to keep children and animals away from contaminated water. According to the CDC, ingesting it—including through consumption of marine animals like oysters—is the most dangerous type of exposure. Effects can include skin, nose, eye, and throat irritation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.What’s causing the bloom?Pollution and warm water fuel the algae’s growth. Research from the U.S. EPA suggests that fertilizer runoff is introducing phosphorous and nitrogen to waterways, essentially fertilizing the algae.Another factor is water flow. The Everglades, a wetland ecosystem, naturally flows from Lake Okeechobee south to Florida Bay. But since 1910, a series of more and more robust dikes have been built to contain that flow. The current dike system, called the Herbert Hoover Dike, is made up of about 143 miles of levees. Additional canals divert the flow to the east and west coasts.With the natural flow of the Everglades staunched, water builds up when it rains. Then the algae blooms again, and like clockwork, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers tries to relieve Lake Okeechobee’s water levels by discharging more water along the canals. This increases the concentration of fresh water in the estuary, giving the cyanobacteria even more opportunity to thrive.Lake Okeechobee in 2016. (Wilfredo Lee/AP)The Army Corps has been releasing a lot of water from Lake Okeechobee, and, in combination with the rain runoff from the basin, it’s compressed the estuary so that it’s mostly fresh [water] now—which is what cyanobacteria like,” said John Cassani of Calusa Waterkeeper, a nonprofit that’s part of the Waterkeeper Alliance. “So cutting back on those fresh-water inflows would increase the salinity of the estuary, and hopefully discourage continued growth of this cyanobacteria.When the Army Corps discharges water from Lake Okeechobee, it increases the concentration of fresh water in the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries, giving the cyanobacteria even more opportunity to thrive there—while interrupting the Everglades’ natural southward flow.Others point to the role of agriculture, especially Florida’s massive sugar industry. Peter Girard, a spokesperson from the environmental group Bull Sugar, said, “Sugarcane needs water when Florida is dry, and it needs drainage when Florida is wet. The industry has secured policy and practice from both state and federal authorities to give them that at the expense of everyone else in Florida.”For years, Florida environmentalists have complained that agricultural runoff from and water mismanagement by “Big Sugar” cause damage to Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades. Grassroots pushes for the state to buy back ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Wednesday, July 18, 2018By Rebecca Renner
    4 days ago
  • CityLab University: Inclusionary Zoning
    If you’ve hung around the CityLab site, sat through a City Council meeting, or hobnobbed with a housing developer, you’ve probably run across the term “inclusionary zoning.” You might even think you know what it means. But wait, do you? Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. Welcome to the pilot edition of “CityLab University,” a resource for understanding some of the most important concepts related to cities and urban policy. If you like this feature, have constructive feedback, or would like to see a similar explainer on other topics, drop us a line at editors@citylab.com. KEY POINTS Inclusionary zoning is a policy that was first developed in the 1970s in response to exclusionary and often racially segregated “snob zoning.” It’s a popular tool for getting the private market to subsidize affordable housing. But critics, namely developers and some economists, say the policy reduces the overall supply of housing, thus raising prices. Other anti-poverty critics say it’s a Band-Aid that doesn’t adequately address the housing needs of low-income people. SUMMARY (key terms in bold)In Washington, D.C.’s rapidly gentrifying Petworth neighborhood, the recently opened Fahrenheit building could easily be seen as a symbol of the area’s increasing unaffordability. Its bright red exterior and ground-floor craft cider house send a powerful signal about the price of the apartments above, which range from $2,400 to $2,745 for a two-bedroom unit. But all is not as it seems. Three of the Fahrenheit’s 31 units are available at below market rates as part of the District’s inclusionary zoning (IZ) program, which, in fiscal year 2016, offered two-bedroom apartments for an average rent of $1,636.In D.C. and around the country, inclusionary zoning (also sometimes called “inclusionary housing”), is an increasingly popular way to produce affordable housing through the private market. And while these programs only produce enough units for a lucky few low- and moderate-income households, they remain one of the main tools cities have for maintaining neighborhood diversity, and keeping high-opportunity areas affordable.For city governments, the big appeal of IZ is the fact that it often requires little or no public subsidy. But if the affordable units IZ produces feel “free” to governments, they are anything but for the developers who produce them. Therein lies the rub: How much affordable housing can cities demand from private developers without making new housing construction economically infeasible? And even if cities can find the IZ sweet spot, will such policies ever produce enough affordable housing to make a dent in the need?A growing number of cities, counties, and even a couple of states have decided inclusionary zoning is worth it, even as they acknowledge that such policies are hardly a solution to the housing crisis. In one building in San Francisco, for instance, 6,580 households applied for 95 affordable units that were partially funded by IZ policies.But producing affordable housing is not IZ’s only goal. It was developed in the U.S. in the 1970s in response to the widespread trend of “exclusionary ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Tuesday, July 17, 2018By Benjamin Schneider
    4 days ago
  • Cities and the Vertical Economy
    In today’s knowledge economy, the clustering of companies and talent is the key driver of innovation and economic growth. Such clustering is usually thought of as occurring horizontally on the flat plane of a map, across a geographic area with large concentrations of companies, highly educated workers, and capital. Even as our cities rise higher in the sky—and policy makers and urbanists call for increased densities—we have little understanding of the ways cities are organized vertically.A new paper published in the Journal of Urban Economics takes a close look at the organization of economic activity in our increasingly vertical cities. Its authors, urban economists Crocker H. Liu, Stuart S. Rosenthal, and William C. Strange (my colleague at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School), examine the kinds of economic activities that cluster in tall buildings; the types of industries that concentrate on higher floors; the variation in rents in these vertical (as opposed to traditional horizontal) clusters; and the effects of such vertical clustering on city economies.Their study uses data from three sources: a set of confidential offering memoranda, supplied to potential investors when a building is up for sale, with detailed information on rents and tenants; CompStak, a commercial real estate analytics startup; and Dun and Bradstreet, which has detailed data from credit reports on a wide range of business establishments. It quite literally adds a new dimension to the study of agglomeration in urban economics, one that will become increasingly important as cities grow taller and denser.The key takeaway is this: Not only do rents rise by floor as tenants pay more for status, prestige, and view, but the rate at which rents increase, or the rent gradient, is higher than the price premium tenants pay for being in prime locations in the central business district. In other words, vertical clustering is a bigger deal than horizontal clustering, at least in terms of the premium on commercial rents that tenants are willing to pay.Commercial rents are high on the first floor because retail businesses want to be at street level. They then drop and make small climbs and dips before steadily rising at higher levels. The chart is based on a sample including only suites from buildings over 30 floors in height, and is restricted to suites from two floors below ground level up to floor 30. (Liu, Rosenthal, and Strange)That said, the ground floor, on average, is the most expensive, because retail businesses are willing to pay a higher premium for being on the street. But starting at the second floor and moving up, rents gradually increase by floor, with bigger increases for higher floors. On average, rents increase by roughly 0.6 percent per floor.Higher floors bring a bundle of attributes, including views (of course), reduced noise, and higher status and prestige. This is why the highest floors in residential towers are called penthouses and command a higher price. Also, higher floors in office towers are a way of “signaling” that a firm is high-status and performs important, ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Tuesday, July 17, 2018By Richard Florida
    4 days ago
  • CityLab Daily: Charlotte’s Convention Dilemma
    Keep up with the most pressing, interesting, and important city stories of the day. Sign up for the CityLab Daily newsletter here.***What We’re FollowingCarolina on my mind: Believe it or not, the gears are already in motion for the 2020 elections, and that includes finding cities to host political conventions. But for Charlotte, expected to get the nod for the Republican convention, it wasn’t an easy decision to welcome the party of Donald Trump to the city. The city council spent three-and-a-half hours in a passionate debate Monday before narrowly voting 6-5 to allow the Republican National Convention to come to town.At the center of the debate was how to weigh a convention’s economic benefits against the message of welcoming President Trump. Mayor Vi Lyles, a Democrat who championed the bid, defended the decision, saying that “hosting the RNC is not an endorsement of the administration.” But before the vote, city councilman Justin Harlow said, “I’d no sooner bring Donald Trump and the RNC to Charlotte… than I would support a Klan rally in this city” (Charlotte Observer). It’s a tension that may have been unavoidable, as one North Carolina Republican put it: “The fact is—it’s just a reality—that more of the big cities in America are governed by Democrats” (New York Times).CityLab context: Is hosting a political convention ever worth it for a mayor?Andrew SmallMore on CityLab Get Your Kicks Biking Route 66 Cyclists are now rolling on U.S. Bike Route 66 in Missouri and Kansas, the first stretch of a route planned for the whole length of the historic 2,400-mile highway. Michael Charboneau What ‘Skyscraper’ Doesn’t Get About Skyscrapers The Rock’s new movie should have gotten more thrills out of high-rise design, an engineer argues. Alex Weinberg Will Cairo Survive Ben Carson? HUD is shutting down two of the largest housing projects in Cairo, Illinois, leaving the town’s fate to a higher power. Martha Park Don’t Throw It Away—Take It to the Repair Cafe This series of workshops aims to keep broken items out of the landfill, and it might help you save a few bucks, too. Linda Poon Can Cities Shape the Automated Future? Urban spaces are the testing grounds for the automation revolution. Will they destroy our jobs, or just make new and better ones? Brooks Rainwater Movin’ On UpWhere you live has a lot to do with how much you earn, and how far it can go. The rule of thumb is this: For every $1,000 increase in earnings, the cost of living is about 1 percentage point higher. But that’s not always the case: The chart above from the Hamilton Project at Brookings shows how far your income will get you in some metro areas compared to others. Places below the trendline but above the national cost-of-living average (x-axis) ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Tuesday, July 17, 2018By Andrew Small
    4 days ago
  • Dockless Bikesharing Hits New York City’s Transit-Hungry Fringes
    Until now, New York City has been largely left out of the dockless bike party. On the West Coast, the grab-and-go wheels have swarmed the streets of Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, battling for space with their polarizing siblings, electric scooters. Since September, Washington, D.C., has hosted several dockless bike companies, which have been credited with reaching a more diverse base of riders than the city’s docked bikeshare system. Chicago has recently gotten in on the action, via a pilot program introducing dockless cycles to the city’s South Side. And the dueling ride-hailing goliaths Uber and Lyft have both leaped into the bikesharing fray, in their respective efforts to dominate the shared mobility market.But America’s most populous city, home of the nation’s largest bikeshare program with the dock-based Citi Bike (which completed 60 million rides in June), has so far avoided DoBi Fever. And that’s very much by design: Transit officials here have kept a tight grip on Gotham’s streets, even going so far as sending a cease-and-desist letter to dockless operator Spin, who tried to blitz the city with its bikes last August. That finally changed last week.On Friday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Polly Trottenberg respectively rode Pace and Lime bikes up and down the renowned boardwalk of the Rockaways in Queens. The sunny photo spray was part of the city’s unveiling of its first official dockless bike program, which comes a few months after City Hall gauged requests from 12 operators for access to what could be, arguably, the biggest dockless market in the country. In the end, five companies were chosen.But New York’s dabbling with docklessness comes with a twist: Instead of letting the free-range bikes loose on the city’s increasingly congested streets—which is already a legal mess for pedal-assist bikes and e-bikes, as CityLab has reported—transit officials have designated special zones in which the bikes, at least in the pilot phase, will be allowed to operate. And the first four are far from the busiest parts of Manhattan. Instead, the bikes are restricted to neighborhoods outside of the realm of Citi Bike and its network of stations, where it can be time-consuming to get from point A to point B with existing mass transit.“In your mind you would have seen it in Midtown Manhattan or Lower Manhattan, but you would not have assumed it would be in the Rockaways,” Mayor de Blasio said at the event. He added later, “A lot of neighborhoods and a lot of places in the city that didn’t get to go first are now going to get to go first and have this extraordinary amenity and this new technology available to them.”The beachside community of the Rockaways will be first to get the dockless bikes. Then, later in July, bikes provided by the Uber-owned JUMP and Lime will arrive on the North Shore of Staten Island, near the ferry terminal, which is an area largely serviced by buses. Then the Fordham ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Tuesday, July 17, 2018By John Surico
    4 days ago
  • What ‘Skyscraper’ Doesn’t Get About Skyscrapers
    A number of movies starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson have featured the destruction of a huge building. But his new one, Skyscraper, pretty much guarantees it right in the title. In Skyscraper, The Rock plays former FBI agent Will Sawyer, who, after losing his left leg below the knee in a botched hostage rescue, now works as a high-rise security specialist. He is hired by billionaire Zhao Long Ji (Chin Han) to assess the newly-finished top half of the Pearl, a 3,500-foot-tall, 240-story building in Hong Kong.The sinuous CGI tower looks like a cross between the Shanghai Tower, a torqued skyscraper that opened in 2015, and another super-high-rise in the same city, the sphere-embellished Oriental Pearl TV tower. If the Pearl were real, it would reach considerably higher and have more floors than any existing tower. (The Burj Khalifa in Dubai, currently the world’s tallest building, is 2,700 feet high and has 163 floors.) There’s no reason a contemporary skyscraper couldn’t be this tall if someone was willing to finance it.The gracefully twisting, extremely tall CGI skyscraper that The Rock must assess and navigate, called the Pearl. (Universal Pictures)Shortly after The Rock finishes his security assessment of the Pearl and declares it to be safe, the action starts to unfold. A team of international mercenaries led by Kores Botha (Roland Møller) breaks in, plants incendiary chemicals, and sets the building ablaze. Meanwhile, a second team on the ground led by an unnamed female antagonist (Hannah Quinlivan) exploits the Pearl’s catastrophic oversights in IT security to gain control of the building and shut off its fire-suppression systems.(Spoiler: All of this sabotage and destruction is revealed to be cover for the heist of an important … computer thing.)With the Pearl in flames, The Rock must employ his knowledge of the tower to beat the bad guys and save his wife Sarah (Neve Campbell) and their children, whom he has inexplicably brought to stay in the tower during his security assessment.A product of the algorithm that seems to make all Hollywood action movies, Skyscraper is mostly forgettable, punctuated by a few fun sequences. It mimics Die Hard so overtly that a comparison is warranted. Both movies feature a European villain taking control of a tall building as part of an elaborate heist, leaving the action hero to single-handedly foil the plot and save his family.But whereas Die Hard gave us Alan Rickman as the delightfully evil Hans Gruber, Skyscraper offers two villains who lack any compelling motivation or strong character traits (and in the woman’s case, even a name). When Will Sawyer performs self-surgery, it’s a weaker version of Bruce Willis’s John McClane pulling glass out of his shredded feet. The Rock’s character understands the building’s security and fireproofing systems, but he never gets into the guts of the tower the way McClane does. In spite of its height advantage of a few thousand feet, the Pearl stands wholly in the shadow of Nakatomi Plaza.To make the fictional building more believable, director Rawson ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Tuesday, July 17, 2018By Alex Weinberg
    4 days ago
  • The Surprising Fortunes of a Metro Expansion
    Buried treasure is usually the stuff of adventure novels, not municipal infrastructure projects. But in Amsterdam, construction work has given archaeologists the chance to exhume 700,000 artifacts from the city’s rivers and canals and put them on display for the world to see.In the process of constructing the Noord/Zuidlijn, a new metro line that runs north to south and tunnels beneath the riverbed of the Amstel through the historical center of Amsterdam, a team of archaeologists from the Amsterdam’s department of Monuments and Archaeology dug 65 feet below the surface of the river, unearthing artifacts that span the city’s entire history and prehistory, from 119,000 BCE to 2005. The resulting treasure trove has been shaped into an ambitious and innovative four-pronged urban archaeology project: Below the Surface” which catalogues its finds via a website, a book called Stuff, a documentary film, and an exhibition in the Rokin metro station.  So just what can be found beneath layers of sand and silt and clay? A click-through of the objects reflects what daily life was like in Amsterdam and for its visitors across eras. “The riverbed proved to be a very rich reservoir of material culture, because water is always used by people,” says Jerzy Gawronski, the city archaeologist of Amsterdam. “There’s a general global instinct for people to throw their garbage into the water, because if you throw garbage in the water it’s gone.”In this case, many people’s trash has become an archaeologist’s treasure. The finds are expansive in their diversity but also mundane: ancient hooks and nails from 1300 CE, coins and ceramic and leather from the 15th century, travel cards and other wallet debris, Pokemon cards, a toy car, a samurai sword and dozens of keys. “The river received all these objects that people threw away, but also lost by accident. So it’s a very varied and massive collection,” says Gawronski.Amstel, Spiegel van de Stad from AT5 on Vimeo.Gawronski and his team excavated two sites: Damrak and Rokin, both located in the city center, which proved to be rich deposits of human traces. “The river Amstel on a calm day reflects the buildings, and in the same way all the finds from the excavation are reflecting the city itself in all its details,” he says. Confronted with that idea, Gawronski and his team decided to catalogue the underwater finds in a way that would be dynamic, interactive, and intuitive. Instead of grouping the objects together by material or time period, Gawronski split the catalogue into 10 chapters, with an aim of expressing the city in all its iterations: “For example, the city is a built environment, so building materials are in chapter one. The city is always a hub of transport, so you have everything to do with transport—ships, bicycles, horses—in chapter three,” he says.So far, roughly 20,000 of the artifacts have been catalogued on the website, created by the Dutch web design agency Fabrique. Gawronski’s team brought in an art photographer Harold Strak to take photos of ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Tuesday, July 17, 2018By Michaela Cavanagh
    4 days ago
  • Can Cities Shape the Automated Future?
    Three robotic arms move brushes languidly across canvases as the glass eyes of cameras gaze ahead. The robots are painting a still life—lit with a tarnished black standing lamp—of a stuffed fox, a bird perched on a branch, a skull in the center, and a seashell to the side.This summer in Paris, it is not only the clutch of international travelers filling the museums, but robotic visitors as well. The Grande Palais is hosting an exhibit called “Artistes and Robots” that features works created via artificial intelligence and robotic hosts. Elsewhere, AI-produced art is growing increasingly indistinguishable from the “real thing.” Since 2016, teams of programmers have competed in an annual RobotArt competition (here are this year’s finalists), and robot-made art will go on sale at the Seattle Art Fair this summer, alongside works that came solely from human hands.This partnership between human and machine is what lies ahead as automation tools permeate our lives at a quickening pace. As many worry about the potential for robots to steal our jobs (or lead a violent overthrow of society), the reality may be more nuanced: They may end up being something more like creative collaborators, much like these robotic artists on display.Estimates for the number of jobs potentially displaced by automation vary dramatically, depending who is doing the measurement. But it’s reasonable to assume that people in certain industries will indeed be greatly impacted, while others not as much. And it’s also safe to say that any mass displacement of workers would create a range of bad outcomes—poverty and populism top the list—that we can and must deliberately plan for now. We must re-tool the workforce, be ever learning, and open to rapid change to reduce the negative impact.The urban environment will be the testing ground for these new technologies impacting the workforce, particularly in the transportation sector. The shift toward autonomy—whether with cars, trucks, trains, buses, or delivery robots on the sidewalk or in the air—is already happening. Projections for when these vehicles will be on the street at scale range from next year to the next decade, or even beyond. This being the case, my colleagues at the National League of Cities, together with Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Aspen Institute, built autonomous vehicle scenarios to explore these changes and create people-centered solutions. First and foremost, cities should be in the driver’s seat, and these scenarios explain how city leaders and community members can shape the autonomous future—delving into mobility, sustainability, jobs and the economy, and urban transformation.Overall, we found that “the robotization of the city” (as Paris deputy mayor Jean-Louis Missika calls it) may usher in job creation in certain sectors and make work more accessible to those who are now getting left out. A network of autonomous minibuses and taxis, for example, could help lower-income and disabled city residents who live in “transit deserts” and offer a solution for those who don’t have a car to travel to opportunities that are further away.Robots could also help small mom-and-pop ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Tuesday, July 17, 2018By Brooks Rainwater
    5 days ago
  • Don’t Throw It Away—Take It to the Repair Cafe
    Charlie Goedecke carefully examined the fabric shaver I’d placed in front of him. The motor had stopped working, or so I assumed. Using a voltage tester, he checked to make sure the batteries inside weren’t dead—they weren’t. “Now the question is, how do we take this apart?” he said. I told him that’s where my colleague, who had entrusted me with the item, struggled when she tried to fix it.“They don’t make it easy,” he replied.We were at a “repair cafe” inside the Elkridge Library in Howard County, Maryland. Instead of silence, we were surrounded by the buzzing of power drills and the whirring of sewing machines. Goedecke was one of the “master fixers” there. He doesn’t like the term, though; he says it should be reserved for the professionals. “We’re all just amateurs at this, and we’re just having fun, mostly,” the 67-year-old retired engineer said.Around the room, 10 others were helping residents repair everything from tables and lamps to jewelry and clothing. In one corner, a handful of vacuums had begun to accumulate. These were things people normally threw away when they malfunction. “[Our society] has been inculcated in the last 50 years with this disposable concept and to buy the best and the latest,” Goedecke said. “We just don’t expect to keeps things around.”It’s that throwaway culture that former sustainability journalist Martine Postma—now the founder of the Repair Cafe Foundation—aimed to tackle in October 2009 when she created the first of such cafes in Amsterdam. The world had been chucking away some 20 million to 50 million tons of electronic waste a year, according to the UN, creating environmental and health problems when dump sites are burned. Meanwhile the the U.S. alone had generated almost 25 billion tons of textile waste that year.“It’s not just electronics and textile; also furniture and bicycles and toys—lots of stuff,” Postma said, speaking from her office in Amsterdam. “At the time, the garbage was collected once a week, and every week there were mountains of waste outside, so much that it really shocked me.”That amount of waste continues to grow today, but so has Postma’s movement. From that first cafe in Amsterdam grew nearly 1,600 more across the globe, including 82 within the U.S. The international attention came swiftly, she said, with like-minded environmentalists asking to set up coffee meetings with her to learn how to get started. She now sells a digital starter kit for €49 (about $58) that includes a manual, permission to use the foundation’s official logo, and communication access to all the other cafes out there.What she’s discovered was that it wasn’t that people liked throwing away old stuff. “Often when they don’t know how to repair something, they replace it, but they keep the old one in the cupboard—out of guilt,” she said. “Then at a certain moment, the cupboard is full and you decide this has been lying around [long enough].”Charlie Goedecke demonstrates how the wires are set up inside a lamp. (Linda Poon/CityLab)That’s why ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Tuesday, July 17, 2018By Linda Poon
    5 days ago
  • Seeing the Beauty in Ukraine’s Soviet Architecture
    Welcome to the latest installation of “Public Access,” where CityLab shares its favorite videos—old and new, serious and nutty—that tell a story about place.When Oleksiy Bykov was studying architecture at Kyiv University of Construction and Architecture, he couldn’t even find the resources to study what was built there during the nation’s Soviet occupation. But such designs won’t be forgotten if he has anything to say about it.The architect is co-writing the book, Soviet Modernism, Brutalism, Post-Modernism: Buildings and Projects in Ukraine from 1960–1990 with Ievgeniia Gubkina, due out next October. They also worked with director and producer Roman Blazhan to create a video about the subject, bringing viewers right to the structures that have fallen into the background and into disrepair. And in 2015, Bykov helped put on an exhibit, “Superstructure,” highlighting the buildings.“They symbolize the global idea of the ‘60s—the youth of the world,” Bykov declares as the video pans over Memory Park in Kiev, a monument with its own sordid history. The rounded concrete rises to a point and viewers can see the crematorium from almost every angle.The movement to preserve Soviet Modernism became more urgent last year when it became clear that neighboring Ocean Mall Plaza may soon swallow the the old UFO building. According to Kyiv Post Legal Quarterly, “buildings constructed between 1955 and 1991 aren’t considered a part of the city’s historical or cultural heritage.”But in Soviet Modernism, Brutalism, Post-Modernism, Bykov’s and Gubnika’s dramatic voice-overs make a case for the historical and cultural importance of these buildings as viewers are introduced to some of Kiev’s most iconic structures, like the UFO building and the House of Furniture.“Each succeeding generation does not only reject the previous one but does not notice it at all,” Gubkina declares. The successive architectural styles during the Soviet period were created in voids, unconnected from the generations that preceded them.They hope that trend won’t continue.H/T: The Calvert Journal ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Monday, July 16, 2018By Karim Doumar
    5 days ago
  • To Save a Town ‘By the Grace of God’
    Editor’s note: From Charles Dickens to Ben Carson, those who visited Cairo, Illinois, have rarely described it in kind words. For her latest contribution to CityLab, writer and visual storyteller Martha Park explores the latest challenge facing this long-struggling city.Further Reading:As Cairo, Illinois Reckons with Public Housing Crisis, Basketball Hangs On, Washington Post People Still Live Here, The Southern Visit from Housing and Urban Development Secretary, The Southern HUD Secretary visits Cairo, The Southern Sen. Dick Durbin and HUD Secretary Ben Carson discuss Cairo housing crisis, The Southern HUD Long Neglected These Residents. Now As They Move Out, Some Feel HUD Let Them Down Again, ProPublica ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Monday, July 16, 2018By Martha Park
    5 days ago
  • CityLab Daily: The Sensory City Philosopher
    What We’re FollowingPeople watching, plus: Carlo Ratti is an architect, engineer, and inventor. He’s also a kind of philosopher of the smart city. As director of MIT’s Senseable City Lab, Ratti’s team deploys digital sensors, artificial intelligence, and other wifi-connected inventions in cities. But his work differs from “smart city” dogma in a key way: It isn’t about directly addressing problems with technology as a “solution.” Instead, it’s about observing people’s interactions with urban spaces.Thus the lab’s proposals have a more playful philosophy: Make tweaks and let them ripple. CityLab’s Laura Bliss visited the Cambridge, Massachusetts, lab to check out its latest projects. Read her story: The Sensory City PhilosopherSpeaking of play… If you’re a parent raising small children in a city, take our survey to help inform coverage for our new series, “Room to Grow.”—Andrew SmallMore on CityLab Why New York City Is Reporting Its Sustainability Progress to the UN So far, it’s the only city in the world to publish a review of its progress toward the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Nicole Javorsky What Cities Do Right to Integrate Immigrants, in 4 Charts A sociologist interviewed hundreds of immigrants in New York, Barcelona, and Paris. Here's what he says those cities get right—and do wrong—when integrating foreign-born residents. Ernesto Castañeda Grenfell’s Problem Wasn’t Just Lax Regulation After the tragic, deadly fire in London, there have been calls for increased regulation and inspection, but that alone will drive up rents for the most vulnerable. Cities need a radical change in the way they approach housing. Robin Bartram Imagining a ‘Canadian Anti-Tourist League’ In a short 1950s comedy, a small group of grumpy natives celebrate awful customer service in the hopes of keeping Americans away. Mark Byrnes Launderettes of London As a new photo project shows, these places aren’t just bright and slightly battered spots to clean clothes—they’re community hubs where people linger and make connections. Feargus O'Sullivan Moscow Cool Fonvizinskaya Station, designed by Nikolai Shumakov and built in 2016. (Alexey Narodizkiy/Blue Crow Media)Moscow’s 83-year-old transit system is layered with political and architectural meaning. Different generations have imposed their own visions on the system, from the ornate stations of the Stalin era to more recent utilitarian facilities. Architectural historian Nikolai Vassiliev recently curated an architecture and design map with descriptions and photos of more than 40 of the system’s notable stations. CityLab’s Mark Byrnes asked him a few questions to get behind the design of a Moscow Metro station.What We’re ReadingDon’t call them parks: the success of New York’s pedestrian plazas (New York Times)Chicago police release bodycam footage of deadly shooting (NPR)How Helsinki arrived at the future of urban travel first (Bloomberg)The urban tragedy of Flint’s poisoned water (Next City)Wanted: male architect willing to navigate his own building in a skirt. (Los Angeles ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Monday, July 16, 2018By Andrew Small
    5 days ago