CityLab

  • Will Cities Pay Federal Workers During the Shutdown?
    The thirty-day mark of the government shutdown has come and gone, meaning some 420,000 federal employees have done a month’s work for free. Legally barred from striking—and driven, perhaps, by a higher sense of duty—FBI, secret service, and Transportation Security Administration agents; food inspectors; and air traffic controllers clocked hours to keep vital parts of the government running. This week, more workers previously deemed “nonessential” have been called back: IRS agents will return to work to deal with the looming tax season, and the Farm Service Agency will staff its office a few days a week to process loans.The federal government won’t pay their salaries until President Donald Trump calls off the shutdown, something he claims will happen only after the Democrats agree to broker a $5 billion-plus deal to build a border wall. In the interim, local services have been stunted, and families are struggling. Now, in an effort to keep federal employees afloat (and to keep things running), some cities and states are weighing whether to start covering paychecks themselves.On Wednesday night, San Jose’s city council was the first to approve a plan to offer no-interest loans to 500 federal airport workers at Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport. “We know for many customs and TSA employees who are living paycheck to paycheck, the shutdown has forced them into the decision of going to work, unable to pay rent, or driving for Uber,” Mayor Sam Liccardo told CityLab. “That’s a choice no one should be subjected to.”And, as Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport contends with the longest lines in the country—and prepares to host the Superbowl—Atlanta city council member Michael Bond also proposed giving loans to its TSA workers. Mayor Keisha Lance-Bottoms ultimately decided not to pursue the plan. Her office did not respond to requests for comment.The heightened focus on San Jose’s airport workers, as opposed to the thousands of others affected, is a matter of public safety, says Pam Foley, a San Jose city council member who supported the plan. “We want to make sure our airports are running efficiently, effectively, and safely for all passengers,” she said. It’s also a shrewd economic move, says Will Wilkinson, vice president for research at the Niskanen Center, a Washington think tank: “Cities really depend on movement of people,” he said. “San Jose is in the middle of Silicon Valley, and … there’s a lot of business that needs to get done.” To do it, they need to fly. In Liccardo’s policy memo, he alluded to this, too: “We must do so to … protect our regional economy.”The TSA absence rates at Norman Y. Mineta have reached 14 percent from the typical 3 percent; nationally, the TSA reported an absentee rate of 6.1 percent on Wednesday, elevated from an average of 5 percent. On Wednesday, TSA leaders told the Washington Post that “many employees are reporting that they are not able to report to work due to financial limitations.”But other compensation programs for federal workers, regardless of position, have ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Friday, January 18, 2019By Sarah Holder
    1 day ago
  • CityLab Daily: How Populism Takes Hold in Superstar Cities
    What We’re FollowingNow That’s What I Call Populism, Vol. 2010: America’s current image of populism tends to graft on to the urban-rural divide. In that image, a movement fueled by the anger of the white working class—comprising the base that of support that sent Donald Trump to the White House—looked like an outgrowth of left-behind places. But populist movements can indeed take hold in diverse, progressive, urban areas. For proof, just look to Toronto.A new study revisits the tenure of former mayor Rob Ford, digging in to the ways he turned key social issues—particularly toward feminism and the LGBTQ community—into a divide that pitted the city’s outlying areas against the “downtown elites.” It goes to show that the politics of fear and perceived economic and cultural threats can carry the day in an urban setting, too. In Trump’s case, it’s immigration, but in Toronto, it was fears of gentrification and the erosion of “traditional values” that gave Ford a target as he campaigned for office. CityLab’s Richard Florida writes on why “superstar cities are not immune to a brand of urban populism.”—Andrew SmallMore on CityLab Los Angeles Passed a Historic Transit Tax. Why Isn’t It Working? Voters who supported L.A.’s Measure M may like transit, but they don’t seem to want a city that’s built for it. Laura Bliss Remembering Atlantic City’s Black History and Segregated Past After the Great Migration, black residents in the Northside neighborhood duplicated businesses that excluded African Americans, creating a thriving environment. Carson Bear The ‘Marie Kondo Effect’ Comes at a Weird Time for Thrift Stores Netflix’s hit show has everyone tidying up, but that's not the only reason second-hand stores are being flooded with donations. Sarah Holder Paris Will Make Public Transportation Free For Kids In a plan to help families and reduce car usage, anyone under 11 years old will be able to ride metro and buses for free, as will people with disabilities under 20. Feargus O'Sullivan Mapping the Chicago Neighborhoods Most at Risk From Pollution New research on municipal pollution may help organizers push for more equitable policy. Sophie Yeo Netflix and BurnAs we head into a long weekend, many of you might have the same plans we do: watching one of the two new documentaries on the ill-fated Fyre Festival of 2017. No matter if you pick Netflix’s Fyre or Hulu’s Fyre Fraud, either telling of the story of a wannabe-Woodstock on an island will pin some blame on Millennial culture. But the concert’s disastrous failure was also an exercise in ignoring the basics of urban planning, as CityLab wrote in 2017: The logistical challenges involved in housing, feeding, and attending to the bodily functions of hundreds of thousands of festival-goers are often beyond the capacities of those who organize these events. These are, after all, essentially pop-up cities, often sited ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Friday, January 18, 2019By Andrew Small
    2 days ago
  • Paris Will Make Public Transportation Free For Kids
    When Parisian elementary school students head back to class after the summer break this year, life may well turn out to be a little cheaper for them and their families.Starting in September, Paris is making all public transit free for people under 11, including non-nationals. Preteens aren’t the only ones getting a bonus, either. All people with disabilities will get free public transit until the age of 20, while high school students between the ages of 14 and 18 will be entitled to a 50 percent tariff reduction. To make transit access for this group even easier, any 14- to 18-year-olds who buy a travel pass will also get a free bikeshare account as well.The plans, which apply across the Greater Paris region and cost an estimated €15 million a year, are part of a staggered plan to make things cheaper for people with mobility challenges. Already last spring, the region introduced a (means-tested) scheme by which adults with disabilities and all people over 65 got a free annual travel pass if they were on a low-to-medium income. This new plan to extend cheap or no fares toward younger people should make the public transit system more widely accessible and prove to be a happy cost-saver for families.It should do more than that, too. As more families leave their cars at home to capitalize on the low- or no-fare policies for their children, it could push a modal shift that would reduce pollution and congestion on Paris’s roads. Furthermore, the plans should help to consolidate public opinion behind the city’s long, fairly uncompromising battle to whittle away the urban space granted to cars.This battle has been going on in Paris for some time. As CityLab has reported, the city’s roads are steadily being pedestrianized or seeing their number of car lanes reduced, and the most polluting cars are experiencing a staggered ban from the inner city. The chief critics of these plans have claimed that they are intended for the benefit of wealthier people in the city core at the expense of suburbanites, who often have lower incomes and need cars to make their commutes feasible.By making public transit ever more accessible and affordable, the Paris region serves to provide its own argument against this, and also open a door for the few who are finding running a car that little bit harder. There are already some murmurs of a close-to-total ban on cars in Paris’s historic center coming in the near future, and ensuring that public transit access to the area is easy for everyone seems a sure-fire way of winning public support. For the time being, however, Paris City Hall has ruled out going down the same route as Luxembourg and making public transit free for all.This is surely good news for any Parisian young people hoping to save some cash, especially in the inner city, where daily journeys such as the school run are quite easy to make—and commonly made—via public transit.Some families may nonetheless find their ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Friday, January 18, 2019By Feargus O'Sullivan
    2 days ago
  • The ‘Marie Kondo Effect’ Comes at a Weird Time for Thrift Stores
    Community Thrift is a second-hand staple in San Francisco, a spot consistently mobbed with shoppers and donators alike, employees say. For the past week, though, the mob of people armed with donation bags has grown. By a lot.Another weird thing has been happening, says Susan, who works the front desk: People have been thanking their objects before giving them away. She rolls her eyes.“People are influenced easily,” says her colleague, Rene.The influencer here, of course, is Marie Kondo, a Japanese organizing consultant-turned-author whose book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, re-popularized the idea that the first step to achieving inner peace is to give away the useless piles of things you’ve accumulated over the years. (Per the KonMari method, you’re first encouraged to hold the stuff, think about the stuff, and thank the stuff for its service). The guru’s new Netflix show, Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, has drawn people further down the anti-hoarding rabbit hole: Binge all eight episodes and you might find yourself purging your earthly belongings.That’s the sell, at least. And, according to the benefactors of all that tidying, it seems to be working.Community Thrift. (Sarah Holder/CityLab)At the downtown Salvation Army, a few blocks down Valencia Street from Community Thrift, I met donations processor Richard Washburn, who said he’d packed two and a half trucks full of stuff (clothing, house-ware, coffee pots) in four hours—something LeAnn Trimmer, the office’s business administrator, says usually takes two days. At a San Francisco branch of the national thrift chain Buffalo Exchange, five people waited in line to donate bags that were stuffed or overflowing. It was a rainy Monday afternoon, usually a shopping lull.“Clothing has really inundated us right now,” said Clint Smith, who’s worked at Community Thrift for 17 years. He slouched on a stack of wood cabinets, wearing a vintage-looking Giants jacket. “We’re treading water trying to get rid of everything.” Salvation Army’s Trimmer agreed. “Usually, donations dwindle after the first of the year,” she said. But December has come and gone, and the donations rate hasn’t slowed down the way it usually does. “The piles are still high.”Across the country, things are trending similarly. At Beacon’s Corner, New York City’s famed used-clothes emporium, a clerk told the New Yorker’s Rachel Syme that the store was the most crowded it’s been in five years. Washington, D.C.-area Goodwills reported a 66 percent spike in donations during the first week of January, according to the Washington Post; with one branch reporting a 367 percent increase. Chicago’s Ravenwood Used Books store got a month’s worth of donations in a week, its owner told CNN. We’ve definitely seen a lot of new faces coming in to sell their closet cleanouts and many of our sellers have been specifically mentioning Marie Kondo,” Kerstin Block, Buffalo Exchange’s president, said in an email.This January, it seems, has been a season of tidying up.But is all this life-changing magic really happening because of a Netflix show? Though spring and December cleanings usually account for most of ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Friday, January 18, 2019By Sarah Holder
    2 days ago
  • Where Your Pizza Comes With a Side of Organ Music
    By 5 p.m., in a commercial section of Mesa, Arizona, the line to order pizza stretches past the arcade, out the door, and onto the sidewalk. But the main attraction isn’t the pepperoni pie: It’s a giant pipe organ, played by a professional, with an accompanying light show during your meal.An organist performing at Organ Stop Pizza in Mesa. (Organ Stop Pizza)Believe it or not, this used to be a fairly common dining experience, offered by more than 100 such establishments in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s. It was Ye Olde Pizza Joynt in Hayward, California, that pioneered the “pizza-and-pipes” restaurant in the 1960s. (If this sounds a bit like Chuck E. Cheese’s, you’re not wrong: Nolan Bushnell, the founder of Chuck E. Cheese’s, told The Atlantic in 2013 that his inspiration for every parent’s nightmare was a pizza-and-pipes restaurant.)Today, Organ Stop Pizza in Mesa is one of the few restaurants left. The restaurant’s organ, the “Mighty Wurlitzer,” lives up to its name—it’s the largest Wurlitzer organ in the world. The Wurlitzer sits atop an 8,000-pound console, which controls the pipework, percussion, and lighting via 1,074 individual keys, buttons, and switches. It’s even bigger than the organ at Radio City Music Hall, although that is a classical organ (the type you’d find in a church) and the Wurlitzer is a theater organ. And yes, there is a distinction.The “Mighty Wurlitzer,” the largest Wurlitzer organ in the world. (Organ Stop Pizza)“It’s kind of like comparing a 747 to a Cessna type of thing: They’re just different,” said Jack Barz, the co-owner of Organ Stop. “There are so many more things you have to do with a theater organ because of all the different sound effects and instruments—[there are] actual real, live instruments that it controls.”Theater organs, or “unit orchestras,” were designed in the era of silent films as a cost-saving measure to include the variety of sounds and instruments required by the score, so that one musician could be paid instead of many. Once talkies began, many of the organs fell out of use and sat unplayed for decades. Organ Stop’s Wurlitzer was built in 1927 for the Denver Theater; it’s currently insured for $5 million.The first location of Organ Stop opened in Phoenix in 1972. After a few successful years, original owner Bill Brown opened another location in Mesa in 1975, followed by a third in Tucson in 1977. The Tucson and Phoenix restaurants have since closed down. Brown sold the Mesa restaurant to two of the managers and one of the organists in 1984. A few months later, in 1985, Barz started working there as a dishwasher, before rising through the ranks.In 1995, the then-owners decided they wanted to open a bigger location in Mesa. So they closed down the original spot, which sat 335 people, and moved to their current location, which has room for more than 700. This wasn’t a simple move: Over a five-month period, each of the nearly 6,000 pipes of the ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Friday, January 18, 2019By Elizabeth Yuko
    2 days ago
  • Los Angeles Passed a Historic Transit Tax. Why Isn’t It Working?
    In November 2016, Los Angeles County made history. A whopping 72 percent of voters approved Measure M, a sales tax measure set to generate $120 billion over 40 years to expand rail, rapid bus, and bike networks. With it, the L.A. Metropolitan Transportation Authority promised to “ease traffic congestion” and “transform transportation” across the region. But that promise is likely to remain unmet, judging by history. Between 1980 and 2016, L.A. passed three major transit sales tax measures and built 110 miles of rail. Yet ridership on L.A.’s transit system has been slipping for years, while the number of miles traveled in private cars is rising. Other American cities that have passed major transit measures are facing the same conundrum. Which is? Voters might love transit, but that doesn’t mean they plan to ride it. And transit agencies that appeal to voters with pledges to solve traffic woes might be digging themselves into a hole. Those basic disconnects at the heart of a landmark sales tax measure are the subject of new research by Michael Manville, an urban planning professor at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs. His research is full of wisdom and warnings for other cities keen to replicate L.A.’s superficial success. Trends in transit ridership, rail ridership, traffic congestion and ballot successes in Los Angeles County, 1980-2016. The brief spike in transit ridership in the 1980s was driven by significant, temporary fare cuts. (Michael Manville/Institute of Transportation Studies, UCLA)When Measure M hit the ballots, Manville suspected that there’d be divergence between Angelenos’ choices at the ballots and on their commutes. He wanted to find out who actually planned to ride L.A.’s shiny new rail system, now that the money was there to expand it. “What I was trying to get at is, how invested are people in the idea of moving around differently?” he told me.  So Manville surveyed 1,450 adults online and by phone one week after election day. The questions touched on attitudes towards transit, congestion, and Measure M, along with a host of other policies that could affect transportation in the region. In particular, he wanted to know who respondents imagined would be most affected by the success of the transit measure. The survey also wove demographic and socioeconomic indicators throughout. Anticipating that the first survey skewed towards white, affluent, and non-immigrant individuals—a slice of the population least likely to ride transit in Los Angeles—Manville followed up a few months later with an shorter survey that intercepted transit users at busy Metro stations.The results? The outcome of the election itself made clear that L.A. voters want more trains and buses. But there seemed to be little expectation among most voters that they’d necessarily use them, Manville found. Demographically, the average Measure M supporter resembled someone with a very high likelihood of driving: They owned cars, enjoyed free parking at home and work, and had higher incomes. Voters who reported wishing to drive less were no more likely to vote for the transit tax, and nor ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Thursday, January 17, 2019By Laura Bliss
    2 days ago
  • CityLab Daily: The Shutdown Is Screwing With Cities
    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 FollowingTick tock: Mayors are watching the clock as the federal government’s partial shutdown reaches its fourth week. The consequences may be less visible beyond D.C., where the majority of the 800,000 furloughed federal employees work, but the impacts will start to trickle down to cities in far more dramatic ways over time. Here are a few examples of what that might look like as federal funds freeze up:Food assistance: The USDA will continue to provide food to local food banks, but furloughed workers could mean a dramatic uptick in customers, especially if SNAP loses funding. The department could also soon run out of funds to store and transport that food. Opioid services: Cities could have to foot the bill for keeping federally funded anti-opioid centers open if the shutdown extends beyond 30 days. Grants that support victims of violence and drug abuse also became inaccessible when the shutdown started; the longer it drags on, the greater the risk that nonprofits will run out of money while waiting for federal reimbursements. Late rent: Renters who receive Section 8 assistance have already had monthly payments end, putting millions at risk of eviction. But if the shutdown continues through February, more funds to local housing authorities that help low-income renters find housing could dry up. That’s just a portion of the mounting pressures cities face during the shutdown. Karim Doumar takes a deeper look today on CityLab: The Shutdown is Screwing With Cities and Mayors Are Not PleasedAndrew SmallMore on CityLab This Isn't a Border Wall: It's a Monument to White Supremacy Like Confederate monuments, President Trump’s vision of a massive wall along the Mexican border is about propaganda and racial oppression, not national security. Bryan Lee Jr. The Verdict's Still Out on Battery-Electric Buses As cities experiment with battery-powered electric buses, some are finding they struggle in inclement weather or on hills, or that they don’t have enough range. Alon Levy Alabama Can’t Make Birmingham Display Confederate Monument The legal decision was monumental both for its dismantling of a pro-Confederate law and the implications for cities’ rights in the face of states’ rights. Brentin Mock How Social Media Will Save Historic Lighthouses While other attractions feel cursed by Instagram hoards, the United States Lighthouse Society is embracing social media. Daisy Alioto Why Do Cities Discount Public Input in Expanding Bikeshare Systems? Under 10 percent of new Citi Bike and Divvy bike docks are sited where residents suggested using interactive online maps, a new study shows. But that doesn't mean city officials weren't listening. Greg Griffin and Junfeng Jiao Who Can Ditch the Car? (Institute of Transportation & Development Policy)Getting people to commute without a car isn’t ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Thursday, January 17, 2019By Andrew Small
    3 days ago
  • Ford Nation: How Populism Took Hold in Toronto
    Conjure up the current image of a populist politician: someone like Donald Trump may come to mind, a politician who feeds into the anger of the white working class in left-behind places. But large, superstar cities are not immune to a brand of urban populism.Before Trump, the late Rob Ford rose to power in Toronto, arguably North America’s most diverse city, filled with tall towers, dense walkable streets, and a vibrant knowledge economy, with a long history of progressivism on social issues. Rob Ford’s rise was not just a one-off event: It was part of a much broader populist movement dubbed “Ford Nation” that ended up propelling his brother Doug to the much more powerful post of premier of Ontario.The rise of Ford’s brand of populism in Toronto is the subject of a new study by my University of Toronto colleagues Daniel Silver and Fernando Calderón-Figueroa, and Zack Taylor, a political scientist at the University of Western Ontario. Their detailed research is a warning to all of us, especially to left-leaning urbanists, that populism can grow in superstar cities. So exactly how did Ford’s populism emerge in Toronto and Ontario, the largest city and largest province of a country whose national political scene is often noted as virtually immune to populism?For one, Rob Ford did not fit the conventional image of a populist. We think of populists like Trump as being anti-immigrant, but Ford embraced, and was embraced by, a wide band of ethnicities, cultures, and religions. In addition to the white working class, his base of support drew heavily from recent immigrant groups like Arab Muslims, South Asian Hindus, Caribbean Evangelicals and others. The study notes that more than half (57 percent) of Ford supporters said more should be done to protect the rights of racial minorities, a striking departure from the coalition that often supports Trump and other populists in Europe. That said, Ford’s appeal was still rooted in more traditional values regarding family, gender, sexuality, and religion, similar to many conventional populists. As the study points out, “Ford supporters held the LGBTQ community in much lower regard than immigrants and non-whites, and rated feminists lowest of all.”Whereas American and European populism is premised on geographic divides between thriving cities and left-behind rural places, Ford’s populism was based on divides within a successful city—in the economic and cultural differences between the downtown core and outlying areas. Take a look at the map below, which compares the large difference in attitudes on key social issues separating the more progressive city center from the outlying areas that formed the base of Ford’s support.“These changes were focalized in the downtown core,” the study argues. “The downtown is home to the Gay Village and to numerous university professors who proudly and forcefully advocate for feminism and LGBTQ rights. Ford’s supporters could present themselves as defending traditional religious and family values against secularism and feminism imposed from above. The concentration of secular and feminist attitudes in the downtown core further amplified the sense ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Thursday, January 17, 2019By Richard Florida
    3 days ago
  • What Cities Are Getting Wrong About Public Transportation
    Each year, the U.S. Census releases an update in “commuting mode shares” in its American Community Survey. This is an annual accounting of the share of people in every U.S. city who bike, walk, or ride public transit to their jobs, as well as drive. Mostly the latter: Nationally, about 75 percent of the country is sitting alone in their cars every morning. About 10 percent carpool, 5 percent ride transit, and the last 10 percent either walk, bike, or work from home.If you peruse this data-dump every year, you’ll probably notice something: Despite the tireless efforts of transit planners, bike-lane boosters, and other actors in the mobility arena, the mode-share percentages don’t seem to budge much in the any given growing city as they add more people, despite massive investments in transit infrastructure. Take Dallas, Texas, for example: In 1996, that city opened the first stage of its light-rail network, which has since grown into the largest system in the U.S., at a total cost of something around $5 billion. But the share of commuters in the city who ride transit has remained below 6 percent since 1990.This can be exquisitely frustrating as cities task transportation leaders with tackling some of the country’s most daunting challenges, from reducing climate change to alleviating economic inequality. But a new report and interactive tool from the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy wants to make the leap to a low-car future feel less enervating by breaking the numbers into smaller chunks. They’ve developed a suite of “indicators for sustainable mobility,” aimed at helping cities measure their transit systems for better outcomes by taking a closer look at where and how they reach jobs and people.To do that, the report digs deeper in the 2015 ACS data to get a more complete picture of how cities can improve their share of sustainable transport—that’s public transportation plus walking, biking, scootering, and any other means of moving around that doesn’t involve a car. No matter if this category makes up the majority of commuters, as it does in New York City (66 percent) or the extreme minority (Nashville, 4 percent), there’s more to say about how it reaches people, housing, and jobs in any given city. (For a wider comparison, the report also looks at mode share in four Canadian cities and transit access in four cities in Mexico)Oh, Canada: Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal beat out Boston, Philadelphia, and Seattle on sustainable transport mode share. (ITDP)The study breaks the data down into 12 different indicators to assess transportation options in 20 cities in the United States. It looks at factors such as how many people live or work within a 10 minute walk or bike to transit, and how many jobs they can reach within 60 and 30 minutes. The result is a more bite-sized and relatable look at where transit can improve, especially on the city-level interactive that lets you pick apart the data and compare with other cities.“One of the things that we ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Thursday, January 17, 2019By Andrew Small
    3 days ago
  • How Social Media Will Save Historic Lighthouses
    The continental United States is bookended by lighthouses. In Maine, the West Quoddy Head Light sits at the country’s easternmost tip. The Cape Blanco Lighthouse in Oregon marks its westernmost point. “Lighthouses have a direct connection to the development of the United States,” says Jeff Gales, executive director of the United States Lighthouse Society (USLHS), enabling the country’s sprawl from sea to shining sea.In the early 20th century, there were approximately 1,500 light stations in the United States. The first electric lighthouse in Dover, Kent, modified in 1875, thrust lighthouses and their keepers into modernity. However, soon the keepers themselves became obsolete—and, with the onset of GPS, vessels had little need for the beacons at all. Those 1,500 lighthouses now amount to 600 historical preservation sites—including adjacent places like light towers and and range lights. Their financial need is ongoing even if their functions are not.USLHS, a private non-profit that advocates for lighthouses around the country, is well aware of the march of progress that turned active light stations into historical architecture. Now, USLHS is turning to social media to woo the next generation of lighthouse obsessives into visiting and hopefully donating toward their preservation.When Gales was hired in 2004, the organization didn’t have a website or even an email address. (The board of eight is made up of Baby Boomers and non-digital natives.) In October 2018, Gales hired their first dedicated social media manager. “We’re on the precipice of something big,” says Gales, noting this is all relative given the organization’s slow embrace of technology.As noted in this publication before, cities are increasingly experienced as Instagram playgrounds, sometimes through travel packages that come with Instagram photographers. Destinations like Machu Picchu have blamed Instagram for overcrowding and bad tourist behavior, while environmentalists have shown that Instagrammers are hurting National Parks—and in extreme cases, themselves. USLHS’s enthusiasm for social media in this moment is indeed unique as other attractions feel cursed by Instagram hoards.If the point of modern travel is to collect photographs, well, let them collect USLHS says. They are hoping to capitalize on the popularity of their passport program which encourages visitors to collect stamps as they visit lighthouses around the country. The passports cost $16 to purchase and a donation of $1 will get you a stamp at participating locations. A full passport book is worth $60, says Gale. (The National Parks have a similar program.)USLHS has sold 15,000 passports a year for the past 5 years. The previous five years were steady at 10,000. Every month, dozens of full passports are mailed back to USLHS to be certified meaning that the program has brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations. To underscore the popularity, the number of people in the passport program now far eclipses the annual membership of USLHS.Nathan Wilson, a junior at Florida Gulf Coast University has collected twelve stamps in less than two years. Last summer, he did a self-guided lighthouse tour with his mother, earning ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Thursday, January 17, 2019By Daisy Alioto
    3 days ago
  • The Shutdown Is Screwing With Cities and Mayors Are Not Pleased
    The mayors are watching the clock—most of the time, helplessly—as the federal government’s partial shutdown finishes its fourth week, with consequences slowly mounting for their cities and residents.Already, essential federal subsidies that help low-income people pay rent have expired, and if the shutdown crawls into a second month—which many think is likely—the impacts to federal food aid recipients could be catastrophic.Thus far, many cities have been working to provide for their residents where the federal government isn’t.“Our cities and counties are the safety net, and we’ll continue to have that safety net,” said Nan Whaley, the mayor of Dayton, Ohio. Due to staggering competence, your local government will remain open today. — Mayor Svante Myrick (@SvanteMyrick) January 9, 2019But soon, the longer-term impacts of prolonged federal government absence will start to trickle down to cities in far more dramatic ways.On top of those impacts to their residents, mayors are grappling with halted, slowed, or imperiled federal funds for development, transportation, police, and other projects. “The lack of federal funds will affect public safety, road repair, housing, and other essential services,” Steve Benjamin, the mayor of Columbia, South Carolina, and the president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, said in a statement.Less funding for food assistance, escalating demandIn Dayton, Ohio, one of Mayor Whaley’s biggest concerns is food pantries. “In two weeks they won’t have any funding for the storage of food,” she said. While the Department of Agriculture will continue providing food to local food banks in the area, according to the Dayton Daily News, the department won’t be able to shoulder the transportation and storage fees.A spokesperson for Dayton’s food pantry told the Daily News that storage costs typically run about $14,000 a month. “The community’s in the process of trying to fill that void, but it’s rather expensive,” Whaley said.But food pantries across the country are bracing for an even bigger crisis. Furloughed workers without pay could mean a sudden and dramatic uptick in customers, straining supply and budgets even more, and if the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) loses funding, pantries’ supplies will dwindle as another rush of people come their way. According to the Washington Post, USAID will provide SNAP benefits through February by moving up the distribution date to January 20—before its money is set to expire. If the shutdown continues long past that, another creative solution will be required to keep benefits flowing through March.Counties may foot the bill to keep opioid services runningLocal nonprofits rely on federal grant funding to provide support to victims of violence, drug abuse, and more. And the consequences of lapsed funding for some of them can be so dire that cities are anticipating trying to foot the bills themselves.In Cincinnati, Hamilton County could be forced to step in and provide additional funding to keep anti-opioid centers open should the shutdown extend past 30 days.“No matter what is debated on the top level, here at the street level it’s us trying to save people’s lives and make our communities ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Thursday, January 17, 2019By Karim Doumar
    3 days ago
  • Do Electric Buses Have Enough Juice?
    In the last decade, electric vehicles have become mainstream. Having captured a small but growing share of the passenger-car market, and an enormous amount of media buzz thanks to Tesla, the EV industry is now setting its sights on the bus market.Several companies that manufacture battery-electric buses, or BEBs, are selling the product to cities interested in zero-emission buses that operate without trolley wire. (While many cities already have extensive networks of electric trolleybuses, such as Zurich and San Francisco, these buses require overhead wires to operate.) Manufacturers include the longstanding Canadian bus manufacturer New Flyer, China’s BYD, and the American startup Proterra.As part of generous government subsidies to BYD, Shenzhen has replaced its entire fleet with BEBs. Cities in Europe and the United States are also experimenting with them. Moscow plans on replacing its trolleybuses with BEBs, and small and medium-sized American transit agencies have begun leasing or buying this technology. Part of the rationale behind this shift is to reduce local-diesel bus pollution; part of it is about cutting greenhouse-gas emissions, and part is the perception that BEBs are a futuristic technology.But is the technology really ready?There are reasons for skepticism. So far, it looks like BEBs struggle when it’s too cold (below freezing) or too hot, and on routes with hills. The global frontier of public-transit innovation in Western Europe is cautious about adopting BEBs and prefers a hybrid form of trolleybuses and battery-electric technology called in-motion charging, or IMC. Some Swiss cities are adding trolley wire at low cost while using IMC to extend the range of their existing trolleybuses several miles beyond the wire.Range anxiety, but for busesBattery-electric vehicles’ biggest problem has always been range. At the dawn of the automobile age, electric cars competed with gasoline and steam-engined vehicles: In 1900, 38 percent of U.S. cars were battery-powered, and only 22 percent boasted internal combustion engines. As late as the 1910s, Thomas Edison was working on an electric car and a network of charging stations. But in time, gasoline-fueled cars came to dominate the market, partly because a car’s range on a full tank of gas was far greater than on a full battery charge.Dramatic improvements to battery technology have fed the recent EV renaissance, allowing such models as the Tesla Model 3 and BYD Qin to travel about 200 miles on one charge. That’s helped alleviate the “range anxiety” that keeps many U.S. drivers from considering an electric vehicle.Still, the energy density of batteries remains well below that of gas. And, unlike most passenger cars, city buses run for the entire day. The big American transit agencies run buses for about 25,000 to 40,000 miles a year, which is two to three times the average distance a car is driven—and buses have a more energy-intensive urban driving cycle (with little highway running), totaling 100 to 200 miles of city running per weekday.Moreover, the routes most likely to get battery-electric technology are the strongest ones, where fleet utilization is higher, since electric buses are ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Thursday, January 17, 2019By Alon Levy
    3 days ago
  • Alabama Can’t Make Birmingham Display Confederate Monument
    Long before Donald Trump proclaimed that there were some “very fine people, on both sides” of the alt-racist eruption in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, Alabama Lieutenant Governor R.M. Cunningham gave similar equivocations at the 1905 dedication ceremony for the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument that was being installed in Birmingham’s Linn Park. Cunningham told the gathering that “the characterization of either side [of the Civil War] as rebels is false” because “both parties were loyalists and patriots.” The then-mayor of Birmingham Mel Drennen cosigned and said that his city’s new Confederate monument “memorialized … a cause that will ever remain fresh in the memories of our Southern people.”The monument is a sandstone obelisk that stands 52-feet tall—higher than the average telephone pole—on a concrete foundation laid during an 1894 Confederate veterans reunion. Little did those vets know that in a few decades Birmingham would become the epicenter of a civil rights movement that explicitly disavowed the Confederate and Jim Crow causes the monument stood for.In 2017, Birmingham would join a wave of cities that decided Confederate monuments were no longer welcome, largely in response to the Charlottesville debacle. Birmingham’s solution was to wall off the monument with large planks of plywood, obscuring it from public view. However, also that year Alabama lawmakers passed the Alabama Heritage Preservation Act, which forbade Birmingham or any city in the state from removing or altering Confederate monuments that had stood for more than 40 years.The act will not be enforced. This week Alabama circuit court Judge Michael Graffeo not only ruled that Birmingham had the right to block off the monument, but also invalidated the Alabama Heritage Preservation Act by finding it unconstitutional. The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed by Alabama’s Attorney General’s office that argued that the city’s barricading of the monument was a violation of the act. Judge Graffeo’s decision on the matter is itself monumental, as much for its dismantling of a pro-Confederate law as it is for what it says about the rights of cities in the face of states’ rights.“Yesterday’s ruling is the first time a court has concluded that a state cannot force a city to maintain a Confederate monument that its citizens find abhorrent,” said Rhonda Brownstein, legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which filed a brief on Birmingham’s behalf. “The Circuit Court ruled that Birmingham has a constitutionally protected right to decide for itself what messages it wants to convey to its citizens and to the world. Alabama's majority-white legislature cannot force Birmingham, a majority-black city, to maintain a monument to white supremacy.”Birmingham first began exploring taking down the monument in 2015, when then-Mayor William Bell asked the city’s attorneys and its parks and recreation board to investigate a legal path towards removal. It seemed like a safe time to do this given that Alabama’s then-Governor Robert Bentley had taken down Confederate flags from the state’s capitol grounds. However, the state legislature immediately began crafting legislation to ensure that other Confederate symbols would ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Wednesday, January 16, 2019By Brentin Mock
    3 days ago
  • Like Confederate Monuments, Trump’s Border Wall Is Really About Racism
    Not long ago, I sat on a panel to discuss monuments and memorials as civic infrastructure at the National Trust for Historic Preservation conference in San Francisco. Afterward, during a question-and-answer period, an older white man asked if there was any universe in which these existing monuments to the Confederacy should stand, given that the South won the war.Yes, you read that correctly.It was a bewildering statement, and the simple answer was no. The panel took issue with the premise, and as we challenged the questioner’s assertion, we came to realize that he viewed the war through the lens of its residual propaganda. And from his perspective, it seemed clear to him that the Confederacy must have prevailed—how else could so many monuments and markers honoring its generals and leaders stand in the streets of America’s cities?This view of the world is the reason these symbols, lionized in civic space, are so incredibly dangerous: They validate a racist system of policies and practices designed to subjugate the powerless and operate continuously, independent of individual biases.And, thanks to the growing movement to remove racist monuments around the world, many of these markers are in retreat. In the last few years we’ve watched Cecil Rhodes fall in South Africa, Lee and Beauregard leave New Orleans, Silent Sam knocked down in Raleigh-Durham, and John A. MacDonald packed up in Victoria, Canada. All of these monuments were bound by the common cause of white supremacy, entrenched in the ideology of dehumanization and brutality.But today the president of the United States demands that we spend billions of dollars to build a new monument—a wall on the nation’s southern border—under the same cause.The spatial justice movement is rooted in the larger struggle for freedom and liberation that has always required challenging the systems represented by those symbols. The abolitionist movement challenged the system of enslavement. The civil rights movement challenged the system of political and legal subjugation. The Black Power movement challenged all systems of racial disempowerment, and Black Lives Matter challenges the system of police brutality and criminal justice.White supremacy, established long before the founding of the U.S., found its footing in this country post-Reconstruction through both policy and physical space, through Jim Crow and Confederate monuments. This strategy to make a national statement of values through the icons and ideas of white supremacy grounded itself throughout the South and conspicuously attached itself to institutions of power. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, of the 1,700-plus monuments and symbols built from the late-19th century to the mid-20th century, a significant percentage are on the grounds of courthouses, or are actual buildings that bear the names of Confederate leaders.Racism is the coordinated system of oppression, a power dynamic premised on the superiority of one race over another. To act in support and maintenance of this system is to be complicit or, yes, a racist. One’s ignorance of it does not negate it. The explicit attempt to reify a devastating migration system through a useless wall ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Wednesday, January 16, 2019By Bryan Lee Jr.
    4 days ago
  • CityLab Daily: Why Detroiters Didn’t Trust the City’s Free Trees
    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 FollowingSeeds of dissent: In 2014, a local environmental nonprofit called The Greening of Detroit partnered with the city to take on an ambitious task: reforesting the city by planting an additional 1,000 to 5,000 new trees per year. But volunteers met stiff resistance. Roughly a quarter of the 7,500 residents they approached declined offers to have new trees planted in front of their homes. That seemed strange, so University of Vermont researcher Christine E. Carmichael went to ask the people who had turned TGD down. She found out she was the first person to ask residents if they wanted the trees in the first place.It’s not that the residents lacked awareness of how trees could benefit their neighborhood, it’s that they didn’t trust the city. Carmichael describes how these “no-tree requests” were rooted in a longer history of their lived experience in the city, what she calls “heritage narratives.” The stories that people from all walks of Detroit life tell themselves and each other about their city’s conditions differed from what the government and volunteers were telling each other. CityLab’s Brentin Mock has the story: Why Detroit Residents Pushed Back Against Tree-PlantingAndrew SmallMore on CityLab Which U.S. Cities Have the Most Families With Kids? Spoiler alert: It’s simply not the case that families with kids have disappeared from urban America. Richard Florida The Shutdown Could Delay Tax Refunds for People Who Really Need It Millions of low-income households rely on the Earned Income Tax Credit to help them get through the winter. Too bad most IRS workers are furloughed. Kriston Capps The Racial Wealth Gap Could Become a 2020 Litmus Test With black votes in the balance in the Democratic primary, would-be candidates are already developing aggressive policies to target inequality. Vann R. Newkirk II Quebec City’s Disappearing Agricultural Land As agricultural areas are snatched up and transformed into new housing developments, one farmer keeps fighting. Tracey Lindeman Why Vegas Clubs Pay Uber Drivers to Drop People Off For decades, Vegas night clubs have paid taxi drivers to bring in new customers. Now ride-sharing drivers find that a good hustle can really pay off. Ryan Joseph Quitter’s Day Daily activity uploads to Strava in 2018 compared to the four-week rolling average of activities by day of week. (Strava)We’re just over two weeks into 2019, and that means we're in that sweet spot of remembering our New Year's resolutions and realizing the ways life might get in the way of them. Fitness-related resolutions are by far the most common, and it turns out that location and fitness apps are a handy way to find out when, exactly, we collectively fall off the wagon. The chart above from Strava shows ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Wednesday, January 16, 2019By Andrew Small
    4 days ago
  • Remembering Atlantic City’s Black History and Segregated Past
    Like much of the United States, Atlantic City, New Jersey, was both de facto and legally segregated throughout much of its history, until the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision of 1954 and the passage of the Civil Rights Act 10 years later mandated integration across the country.But unlike many other segregated communities, Atlantic City has long been a tourist hub and beach town—and travelers, both black and white, have been vacationing in Atlantic City for more than a century.After Atlantic City was incorporated in 1854, its economy flourished and its population grew quickly. African Americans moved to Atlantic City from the South during the Great Migration, in search of better-paying jobs. Other black people immigrated to Atlantic City from the West Indies and opened many of the town’s black-owned businesses.Though no specific laws segregating the town existed at this time, discriminatory practices including redlining (where potential homeowners are denied access to particular neighborhoods based on race) sequestered African Americans to the Northside neighborhood of Atlantic City, according to Ralph Hunter, founder of the African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey.“The 80-square-block Northside neighborhood was once a thriving community of businesses, entrepreneurs, and professionals including doctors, lawyers, dentists, and funeral directors,” Hunter said. “They could attend school, own property, and vote, but they had to go to a clinic at City Hall instead of Atlantic City Hospital [when they were sick].”Most African Americans who lived in Atlantic City worked as laborers or in the service industry at white-owed hotels. In fact, black workers made up 95 percent of jobs at resorts and in tourism in Atlantic City during the Victorian era, according to a story on according to a story on NJ.com.“Atlantic City was built on the backs of African Americans,” Hunter explained.The residential areas of Atlantic City may have been essentially segregated from the time of the city’s incorporation, but its beaches and hotels were not segregated until 1900, when white tourists visiting from the Jim Crow South started to complain about integration.Only then did the City Council officially segregate Atlantic City. Throughout this period of segregation in the early 20th century, African Americans continued to work at white-owned hotels and businesses.African Americans continued to travel to Atlantic City, but instead of visiting whites-only beaches, they traveled to the only beach open to black people in the area—Missouri Avenue Beach, which was located in front of Atlantic City’s convention center. And though whites-only hotels were now closed off to black travelers, black-owned hotels and residences provided an opportunity for travelers and African American entrepreneurs alike.One of the premier hotels in the northern United States, Liberty Hotel, opened in the Northside in the 1930s. The six-story hotel was a safe haven for African American performers who were playing at local venues, as well as upper-class vacationers, including C. Marrs Kane, a black entrepreneur who developed the first YMCA in Atlantic City and the first housing project in New Jersey. The building still stands today and has been ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Wednesday, January 16, 2019By Carson Bear
    4 days ago
  • In Las Vegas, Kickbacks Sweeten the Deal for Uber and Lyft Drivers
    Harry Campbell and his friends were walking down a side street in Las Vegas last spring when a black Escalade pulled up beside them. The driver made an offer: He’d take them to a strip club and give each person—all ten of them—a $20 bill if they got in the SUV.It sounds odd, but it made perfect sense, says Campbell, founder of The Rideshare Guy blog and podcast. The driver wanted to entice the group to go to the strip club because the club would pay him a kickback for each person he brought there. For any takers, that upfront cash could make a dent in the club’s cover charge. The driver, meanwhile, stood to make anywhere from $40 to $80 per person just for dropping them off.Kickbacks are an old fixture of the Vegas taxi industry. They’re essentially a finder’s fee paid to drivers by any assortment of businesses, but especially ones dealing in vice, like strip clubs, gun ranges, liquor stores, and, more recently, cannabis dispensaries. It’s a practice that has persisted in Las Vegas for decades as a way for businesses to keep a leg up on the competition. And while these incentives have long been a way for taxi drivers to boost their earnings, they’ve also become an important source of income for many Uber and Lyft drivers—especially as those companies have cut rates since arriving in the city in 2015. Knowing how to play the game can really change a driver’s fortunes.“My biggest objective is kickbacks,” says Derrick Smith, a Las Vegas ride-share driver and coach. “I’m spoiled now, but I can make anywhere between $50 to $700 [per week] in kickbacks. I would not still be doing this if it weren’t for kickbacks.”***For decades, the kickbacks ecosystem developed in something of a legal gray area. After arising in the 1950s, the practice was eventually challenged in court in the 1980s, when the Phillips Supper Club was sued by other local restaurants for its practice of tipping $3 per head to every taxi driver who dropped off customers, says Albert Marquis, a lawyer who has argued in court against kickbacks. The parties in that case settled, Marquis says, so the legal question of whether a business can take action against kickbacking competitors remained unsettled.Then, in 2011, a federal judge dismissed a class-action suit that alleged racketeering between Vegas strip clubs and taxi drivers, effectively letting kickbacks stand unperturbed. The case stemmed from a 2009 suit in which a southern California man sued several Vegas taxi companies and strip clubs after he’d asked to be taken to one club but was instead taken to another. The judge in the case swatted down the racketeering claim, saying he couldn’t find anything illegal about kickbacks. Clubs could charge what they wanted, and pay whomever they wanted, as long as they deliver the product, the judge wrote. To underscore kickbacks’ current status, all drivers who receive them are legally required to file 1099 tax forms from each business that ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Wednesday, January 16, 2019By Ryan Joseph
    4 days ago
  • The Rise and Fall of New Year’s Fitness Resolutions, in 5 Charts
    “Beat the New Year’s resolution rush!” read a chirpy email that landed in my inbox as January approached. It was an invitation to join a local gym (first month free!), and it served as a reminder that it was that time again, when many of us vow this is the year we become better versions of ourselves. Indeed, fitness remains the top resolution every year among those who proclaim “new year, new me.”In a survey conducted by NPR and The Marist Poll in November and December, 44 percent of 1,075 American adults said they were likely to make a New Year’s resolution. Among them, 13 percent set out to exercise more, making it the most common resolution. Related ambitions to lose weight and eat better ranked third and fourth, respectively. Together, they’re goals for almost a third of all resolution makers.But such lofty ambitions are notoriously hard to keep. The cold, hard truth about how our determination peaks and wavers—and how many of us will inevitably fall off the wagon—is in the data.One analysis from Strava, for example, estimates that Americans are most likely to give up on this resolution as early as mid-January. So to see how that might play out in 2019, CityLab looked at data from Google and a fitness trade association, as well as those collected from smartphones by Strava and Foursquare.Unsurprisingly, our collective determination starts out strong. Google Trends shows that searches for topics related to exercise and weight loss spike right around January 1 each year.This time of year is also when the fitness industry ramps up its advertising—playing up a sense of inadequacy—and reaps the benefits. In a 2017 survey of nearly 6,400 fitness clubs in the U.S., the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association found that 10.8 percent of all gym membership sales in 2016 took place in January, which is proportionally more than any other month that year.Gym membership sales in 2016 (International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association)But getting a gym membership is the easy part. How much do people then follow through? Gym owners know that, at least when it comes to money, the best customers are those who don’t show up. Membership fees average $50 per month, according to the trade association’s report, with some higher-end studios and boutique charging well over $150 a month.To get a sense of how well Americans make use of their membership, we looked at 2018 data provided to us by Foursquare, whose Swarm app allows users to “check in” and records implicit gym visits by tracking when a phone stops in one for at least five minutes. Using that data, which is based on foot traffic patterns from 10 million users (and normalized against U.S. census data to remove demographic and geographic bias), the analysts compared weekly visits in the first quarter of the year to the full-year average.Their analysis showed that weekly gym attendance begins as early as the second day of the new year, and by January 8, Americans were making ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Wednesday, January 16, 2019By Linda Poon
    4 days ago
  • The ‘Childless City’ Is Mostly a Myth
    Look around a hip neighborhood in Lower Manhattan or downtown San Francisco, and you’ll see lots of young people, and Baby Boomers whose kids have left the nest. There are also some stylish moms (or nannies) pushing tots in strollers. But you won’t see many traditional nuclear families with school-age children.There’s a growing consensus that our cities are becoming “childless.” This past October, Axios ran a story on the ”great family exodus,” showing data that the share of families with children under the age of 20 has fallen in 53 large cities across the country. As far as I can tell, the phrase “childless cities” was first advanced in 2013 by Joel Kotkin in an essay of that title for City Journal.Several factors are said to be pushing families with kids out of cities: the expensiveness of city living; the lagging performance of urban versus suburban public schools; and the preference of immigrant families for the suburbs over urban locations. But just how childless are our cities, really?Karen King, a demographer with my research group in the University of Toronto’s School of Cities, pulled data from the 2016 five-year estimates of the American Community Survey on the share of households with their own children under the age of 18. She did this for all principal cities and metropolitan areas in the U.S.Source: Karen King, U.S. Census 2016 American Community Survey (David H. Montgomery / CityLab)Across the U.S., just 28.5 percent of households have their own children under 18. The first table below shows the 10 principal cities with the highest levels of childlessness. To be blunt, only a small number of cities can be said to be anywhere near childless.Of the 47 cities with more than 350,000 people, just seven are far off the national average. San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. are the only three where less than a fifth of families have kids under 18. Add New Orleans (likely a result of depopulation after Hurricane Katrina), Miami (a retirement destination), Minneapolis, and Philadelphia to the list. The remainder of the top 10 is within five percentage points or so of the national average.And some cities we commonly think of as childless are not so childless at all. In New York City, for example, 26.2 percent of families have children under 18; in Los Angeles, the share is 27 percent.Large Cities With the Lowest Share of Families With ChildrenCity Share of households with children San Francisco 16.5% Seattle 18.7% Washington, D.C. 18.9% New Orleans 20.7% Miami 21.4% Minneapolis 21.8% Philadelphia 22.5% Portland 23.2% Denver 23.3% Cleveland 23.7% The next chart looks at the large cities with the highest share of families with kids. These are mainly Sunbelt and Western cities, such as Fort Worth, Arlington, El Paso, and San Antonio in Texas, as well as Phoenix, Colorado Springs, and Fresno. But San Jose, in the very heart of Silicon Valley, ranks third, likely due to the high percentage of immigrant families and its relative affordability compared to ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Wednesday, January 16, 2019By Richard Florida
    4 days ago
  • Quebec City’s Disappearing Agricultural Land
    In his 65 years, Denis Bédard has watched a city grow up around his Quebec City family farm.Beauport used to be a rural area home to dozens of vegetable farmers. “There was no urbanization at all,” says Bédard, owner of Ferme Bédard et Blouin. “The 1960s is when it all started.”That’s when developers began snapping up lands owned by aging farmers. In the decades that followed, Quebec City sprawled into Beauport. More buildings sprang up. Traffic clogged the main street. The number of farms dwindled. But there were always a few holdouts that anchored the area in its agricultural roots, chief among them a congregation of nuns called les Soeurs de la Charité (Sisters of Charity). The sisters owned 500 acres of land that, for more than 100 years, was used primarily for grain and seed production.That is, until 2014, when the nuns sold their land for an astronomical CDN $39 million (plus $14 million in built-in interest) to Michel Dallaire, a private developer who intends to use part of the land to build 6,500 housing units—many of them single-family homes and townhouses. The city, which is in the process of creating a new urban development plan, has endorsed the Beauport project and is working with Dallaire’s company, Groupe Dallaire, to make it happen.“That was the trigger,” says Monique Gagnon, spokesperson for Voix Citoyenne (“Citizens’ Voice”), a grassroots advocacy group opposed to housing development on these lands. The city has since used the Dallaire opportunity to request the dezoning of at least 1,000 acres of agricultural land in Beauport and another 400 acres west of the city, in St-Augustin, in order to grow its urban perimeter.Beauport ‘a hole that must be filled’Quebec City, metro population 800,000, believes that it will need an additional 28,200 households between now and 2036 if it wants to keep pace with divorce rates and immigration. This oft-cited figure is fundamental to the reasoning for the Beauport project—but it’s only part of the story.With 382,000 existing housing units, Quebec City actually has an oversupply of housing—particularly condos—which has caused real estate prices to stagnate in recent years. It also has a low birth rate and an aging population. “We’re probably at the end of strong growth, and are probably going toward stagnation or small growth unless there’s massive immigration,” says Érick Rivard, an architect, urban designer, and university professor based in Quebec City.With a population density of just 608 people per-square-mile, the city also has a notable sprawl problem (for reference, New York City has a density of 27,000 people per-square-mile). The city’s proposed urban development plan looks to maintain this land-use ratio, and it has every incentive to do so. Because the city gets most of its money from property taxes, the more high-value real estate development it greenlights the easier it is to fill its coffers.But many Quebec City residents aren’t interested in more low-density housing. “Everything here is built for the car. Outside of the old city’s downtown, there’s no neighborhood life,” says ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Wednesday, January 16, 2019By Tracey Lindeman
    4 days ago
  • The Shutdown Could Delay Tax Refunds for People Who Really Need It
    With the holidays behind them, millions of Americans are putting a new priority on the calendar: getting caught up on the heating bill. Since most states have laws prohibiting utilities from disconnecting the gas during the winter, households struggling to juggle their expenses sometimes let this one lapse. When the new year arrives, so does help, in the form of the Earned Income Tax Credit.Families rely on the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for a vital infusion of cash after the holiday season. More than 25 million low- and moderate-income tax filers claimed the EITC last year—a total of 18 percent of all tax returns. In 2018, these tax filers saw an average return of $2,488—which helps to explain why households claiming the EITC (or the refundable Child Tax Credit) are among the earliest households to file their taxes every year.This year may be different, thanks to the ongoing federal government shutdown. While the Trump administration has pledged that the Internal Revenue Service will still issue tax refunds, recent changes to the tax code will make that promise difficult to keep, especially with regard to these critical refunds. As the shutdown stretches on, people who depend on the EITC for relief may face serious hardship.“Although the federal government has indicated they want to send out refunds on time, it’s questionable to me whether that’s a realistic goal,” says Elaine Maag, a senior research associate in the Urban–Brookings Tax Policy Center at the Urban Institute.Changes to the tax code passed as part of the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015 require the IRS to delay issuing tax refunds for filers who claim either the EITC or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC). This delay enables the IRS to verify wage data for families filing EITC or ACTC refunds. Maag says that this delay represents a burden for low-income families with children, since the income test falls on them alone, forcing them to stretch their budgets.With the federal government on ice, this income verification process could take much longer. The IRS has a few weeks to verify wage data provided by the Social Security Administration (which is not subject to the shutdown); the agency can begin issuing EITC or CTC refunds on February 15. But if there are no staff in place to process these wage data, then the IRS must either delay these refunds or issue them without the verification required by the PATH Act.The IRS declined to answer whether appropriate staff will be in place to verify income data for these refunds beginning in late January. The Treasury Department announced on Tuesday that more than half of IRS employees will return to work later this month despite the shutdown. But the department also signaled that the agency wouldn’t be performing some key functions, such as audits. Fewer than 10,000 IRS workers—roughly 12 percent of the total workforce—have been left to staff the giant agency since the shutdown began in December. The National Treasury Employees Union has sued ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Tuesday, January 15, 2019By Kriston Capps
    4 days ago
  • CityLab Daily: The Life and Death of an American Tent City
    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 FollowingPacking up: At the height of the family separation crisis last year, a tent city went up the middle of the desert near the U.S-Mexico border. Now, it’s being dismantled. This structure was conceived—or, at least presented—as a temporary shelter, set up to handle the influx of young children crossing the border. But its seven-month life in Tornillo, Texas, may leave a more permanent imprint, at least on the people who interacted with it. (Madison McVeigh/CityLab. Photos: AP)The encampment became a powerful symbol because of its scale. At its peak, it had over a 100 tents, was run by around 2,000 people, and held nearly 3,000 kids. But it also evoked a familiar visual, harkening back to other points in the American zeitgeist: When the Memphis sharecroppers set up tent cities upon being evicted for trying to vote; when “squatter camps” emerged in the outskirts of cities after the Civil War; and perhaps most famously, when the government interned Japanese-Americans in camps far from the public eye. The tent city in Tornillo was also revelatory, and told stories about the small border town in which it was briefly located. Read my story on CityLab today: Why America’s Largest Migrant Youth Detention Center ClosedTanvi MisraMore on CityLab Federal Government Administers Many Tribal Nation Services: So What Now? U.S. treaties guarantee services to Native Americans, many administered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and other federal agencies affected by the shutdown. Jenni Monet Could ‘Human Composting’ Mean a Better, Greener Death? As Washington State considers legalizing human composting, advocate Katrina Spade explains the process as a needed alternative to standard burial and cremation. Hallie Golden The Air in London’s Tube Is Really Bad For You Pollution in some Underground stations is up to 30 times worse than what you’d find on the average London street, a new Transport for London study shows. Feargus O'Sullivan Will Copenhagen’s Eco-Friendly Man-Made Islands Pay Off? The Danish capital is expanding its land mass and creating climate resiliency. But is it sustainable? Feargus O'Sullivan How Police Body Cameras Influence the Way People Assign Blame A new study finds that people who watch body camera footage attribute less blame to police officers involved in incidents than if those same officers were caught on dash cams. Kate Wheeling What We’re ReadingJudge orders Trump administration to remove citizenship question from the 2020 census (NPR)As tech invades cycling, are bike activists selling out? (Wired)Why doesn’t Boston do a better job of commemorating its Great Molasses Flood, which happened 100 years ago today? (Boston Magazine)The racial wealth gap is worse than it was 35 years ago (Fast Company)Everything “Parks and Recreation” got right about national parks and government shutdowns (Business ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Tuesday, January 15, 2019By Tanvi Misra
    5 days ago
  • Will Copenhagen’s Eco-Friendly Man-Made Islands Pay Off?
    In a bid to create new space for green industries and fossil-free energy production, Greater Copenhagen wants to build an entirely new business and infrastructure district on the city’s southwestern edge. Instead of taking up existing land, it would be constructed just off the coast as a new archipelago of islands known as Holmene (“the islets”) that would possess more than 740 acres of new land upon completion. Located in the suburban municipality of Hvidovre, the islands would also serve as a flood barrier protecting the coast, their green fringes and reed beds stretching out towards small islets that would act as an effective sponge for storm surge.Announced earlier this month, the grand scheme would be constructed gradually using earth excavated during construction work and expansion of the metro system, whose City Circle line should open in summer 2019. Each new island would be initiated only when the existing land has been allotted for use, a process that could take as long as half a century. Overall, the site could also cut Copenhagen’s carbon footprint, as the island’s are also planned to host what would be Northern Europe’s largest waste-to-energy plant—an Urban Power-designed facility which could convert trash into enough electricity to meet 25 percent of Copenhagen’s needs.The plan sits in a wider development context whose results are ambivalent. Greater Copenhagen has in fact been going through an island-building spree of late, and in some cases, these projects may be working against the city’s long-term sustainability.The city launched the creation of another major offshore land mass earlier this fall, close to the Danish capital’s heart. Located in the harbor waters just northeast of Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid statue, the planned island of Lynetteholmen would arguably have an even more striking effect on the urban fabric. A predominantly residential island, it would eventually house up to 35,000 residents when completed by 2050. By then, it would join a set of long, complete islets flanking the sides of the city’s South Harbor. Key to both the Lynetteholmen plan and that for the new archipelago at Hvidovre is their cost. They would, according to their official promoters, not cost taxpayers a single cent. That’s because they follow a funding model Copenhagen has been using since the 1990s which has sparked international envy but whose outcomes are increasingly causing skepticism.Unlocking DevelopmentThe Danish capital has been redeveloping marginal and ex-industrial areas since the 1990s through a highly influential process Bruce Katz has called “The Copenhagen Model.” Under this model, the state transferred large tracts of public land (generally peripheral or brownfield) to a state-affiliated, privately managed company called By og Havn (City and Port), which then developed regeneration plans for them. Crucially, this regeneration was not funded publicly but by speculating on the increased revenue the city could receive after rezoning for residential and commercial use.As a result of this public-private pact, the city was able to finance  a major extension of its metro system through calculating the increased land values along its length. That land ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Tuesday, January 15, 2019By Feargus O'Sullivan
    5 days ago
  • The Air in London’s Tube Is Really Bad For You
    If you think London’s streets are polluted, wait until you go underground.According to a new study commissioned by Transport for London, the air in parts of the city’s subway system is thick with harmful particulates, with some of London’s Tube stations registering levels of air up to 30 times worse than the average for a London street above ground.In the worst cases of underground pollution, it’s possible that particulate pollution of this type is a feature of subway systems across the world. The study nonetheless makes two things clear. First, that London Underground’s particulate problem is notably worse than other city systems thanks to the network’s age and design. Second, that despite increasing awareness of the noxious effects of motor vehicle exhaust fumes, many harmful particulate emissions on the network do not come directly from fuel combustion.So why are things so bad? Partly because much of the network is so deep and poorly ventilated—with many lines running far farther beneath the ground than equivalents in Paris, New York, or Berlin. As the network’s operation began as early as the 1860s, many stations were built without great thought to ventilation or concern about forms of pollution that, while harmful, are odorless and invisible.Still, the picture isn’t universally bleak—there is, after all, considerable variance in particulate levels from station to station. Northwest London’s Hampstead Station is the worst, containing an average of 492 micrograms of PM 2.5 per cubic meter of air, compared with an annual average of 16 micrograms of PM 2.5 per cubic meter from a roadside monitoring site. The reason for this especially high level is easy enough to fathom: Hampstead is the deepest station below ground on the entire network, its platforms lying 192 feet below ground (and accessible only by elevator).Not all stations are this bad. Further out in the suburbs, many London Tube lines go above ground, while in the center, the very oldest lines tend to be only just below the surface or partly open to the sky, making the tunnels far easier to ventilate.   It still might come as a surprise that a system run entirely on electricity should deliver such poor air quality. In fact, many of the particulate emissions trapped below ground are not created by combustion at all. According to the study, some of the PM 2.5 in the system does indeed derive from exhaust fumes wafted underground. These concentrations then increase thanks to particulates emitted by wheel friction, brake pads, and even particles that come off clothing worn by passengers. The constant movement of trains ensures that these particulate concentrations are continually redistributed through the air.These alarming discoveries might put you off going underground altogether. Indeed, we’ve known for a while that air on London’s tube trains is worse than that in private cars, where air conditioning acts as a filter. Now it turns out that London’s buses also have notably cleaner air. A Tube passenger on a crosstown journey, the study found, would likely experience particulate concentrations two-thirds higher than ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Tuesday, January 15, 2019By Feargus O'Sullivan
    5 days ago
  • Why America’s Largest Migrant Youth Detention Center Closed
    Rugged, sepia-colored land stretches for miles around the Marcelino Serna Port of Entry in the small town of Tornillo, Texas. This border gateway across from Guadalupe, Mexico, was known as the Tornillo Port of Entry until 2016, when it was re-named after Private Marcelino Serna, a Mexican citizen who crossed illegally into Texas in 1916 and enlisted in the U.S. Army. He went on to become the most decorated Texas soldier of World War I.A few years ago, the government had big plans to develop a trade corridor here, acquiring a large swath of the surrounding land through eminent domain. But the project hit some snags, and the commercial traffic never really took off. Instead, this corner of West Texas about 40 miles from El Paso became known for something very different: a tent city built here in June 2018 to house migrant children in the government’s custody.Thanks to Trump administration policies that extended government custody of migrant children, the number of kids detained at Tornillo rose dramatically over a period of several months. As the population expanded, the facility’s footprint grew; at its peak, in December, it boasted more than 100 tents and was the largest migrant child shelter in the country. The kids were between 13 and 17 years old, and hailed from Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and some other countries.“It's kind of ironic that a port of entry that was developed for reasons that should have served to create better relationships with our counterparts on the Mexican side is being used to jail kids,” said David Stout, an El Paso County Commissioner. “It’s quite a far reach from its original purpose.”Over its seven-month lifetime, upwards of 6,000 children were held at the Tornillo tent city. Now, it is disappearing: The last child left on January 11. BREAKING: I just talked with the management at the Tornillo facility - the last kid just left. This tent city should never have stood in the first place but it is welcome news that it will be gone. — Rep. Will Hurd (@HurdOnTheHill) January 11, 2019In his book, Camps: A Guide to 21st Century Space, architect Charlie Hailey creates a classification of shelters like the Tornillo facility, which he describes as structures that exist “between the temporary and permanent” and reflect a “confluence of mental and social space.” Some facilities, like summer camps and protest sites, are autonomous communities; others, like post-hurricane emergency shelters, emerge in times of necessity. And then there are spaces like Tornillo’s tent city, which are organized around controlling certain groups. A camp can fall under more than one category—but regardless of type, it always reveals something about the people who made it and those who live in it.“How and why camps are made, where they are located, and how long they endure reveal problems and possibilities associated with our built environment,” Hailey writes. “Because of their rapid deployment and temporal nature, camps … provide an important gauge of local and global situations.”The tent city in Tornillo told ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Tuesday, January 15, 2019By Tanvi Misra
    5 days ago
  • Federal Government Administers Many Tribal Nation Services: So What Now?
    ALBUQUERQUE—When Deanna Lubarsky’s husband passed away 11 years ago, she took a couple of years to readjust to her new life before re-entering the workforce, landing a job at the Bureau of Indian Education office in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Now, with the government shutdown, she’s been furloughed since Dec. 21st.  A tribal citizen of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation, Lubarksy said she could sense trouble was looming. In early December, based on rumors of potential sequestration, she nixed plans to spend a week with her daughter in New York City. Lubarsky, 64, is now concerned about her healthcare.Without a paycheck, it means her private health insurance is at risk of lapsing come Feb. 1. Three weeks into the government shutdown she loaded up the backseat of her station wagon with the three dogs, Lola, Coco, and Cato—her immediate family with her daughter so far away—and drove to the Indian hospital to refill prescriptions that control her diabetes and high blood pressure. A canceled appointment in late December had her concerned; she worries what may happen if the stalemate persists.Entering its fourth week—the longest government shutdown in history—the impacts of the closure are being uniquely and deeply felt in Indian Country, particularly with constraints on the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs as well as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Indian Health Service. The closure has also affected the thousands of federal employees working within these agencies, many of whom are tribal citizens now furloughed. And tribal nations engaged in federal contracting have reported an estimated financial loss of $200,000 to $250,000 per day during the shutdown, according to some tribal leaders.On Thursday, a coalition of Indigenous advocacy groups took a treaty stand, lambasting President Donald Trump and Congress in a joint letter urging them to end the ongoing shutdown. The closure they say, has disproportionately affected Native Americans. Central to their chiding was the reminder of the federal government’s treaty and trust obligations guaranteed to tribal nations.“America’s longstanding, legally mandated obligations to tribal nations should be honored no matter the political quarrels of the moment,” read the letter signed by top officials with the National Congress of American Indians, the National American Indian Housing Association, the National Indian Health Board, and other groups.But as the closure lingers, certain tribal leaders are calling for an exemption to the furloughs and budget cuts currently being felt.  On the Navajo Nation, outgoing president Russell Begaye referenced a recent winter storm as one critical example to keep the funds flowing to such tribal nations. The vast reservation with an estimated 174,000 tribal citizens living on these lands, spans three different states, is roughly the size of West Virginia, and deeply rural. When snow socked in residents in early January, many were trapped in their homes for days after Bureau of Indian Affairs workers, furloughed during the call for snow removal, were slow to respond. Roads were ultimately cleared by unpaid employees.The outgoing president of the Navajo Nation, ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Tuesday, January 15, 2019By Jenni Monet
    5 days ago
  • Why Do Cities Discount Public Input in Expanding Bikeshare Systems?
    When New York and Chicago decided to expand their public bikeshare systems a few years back, city officials wanted to go about it democratically. Using community meetings, workshops, and interactive maps, they asked the public where they wanted new bike stations to be built.“I have consistently found that local neighborhoods know their area better than anyone,” Joseph R. Lentol, a New York State assemblyman from Brooklyn, said after city officials in 2014 announced a major expansion of New York’s year-old Citi Bike system.The Chicago Department of Transportation also thanked residents for their input in locating the 175 new bike stations it added in 2015.“Chicagoans gave great suggestions for the locations of new stations, and we look forward to placing them where they were requested,” Transportation Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld said.Ultimately, though, just a fraction of the docking stations were built in the places recommended by the public, according to our new research on participatory bike share planning in Chicago and New York.Demands ignoredNew Yorkers suggested 2,000 sites as locations for new bike stations in their city, using the transportation department’s interactive online map. But our study, published in the Journal of the American Planning Association, shows that just 5 percent of bike docks built during the 2014-2015 expansion are located within 100 feet of suggested sites.Chicago was slightly more responsive. Ten percent of docking stations built through 2015 were located at or near the spots residents identified on the interactive map.Our findings don’t imply that city officials weren’t listening. There are practical reasons why they weren’t able to put most bike stations where people asked.Public bikes—a quick, green way of getting around town—are designed to complement buses and subways. So enlarging bike systems in New York and Chicago meant assessing gaps in each city’s transportation network. The results of that analysis may conflict with people’s desires about where new docks should be installed. New Yorkers can ask for more Citi Bikes using an interactive online map—but they won’t necessarily get their wish. (NYC Dept. of Transportation)Transit planners would also have disregarded suggested dock locations that lacked sidewalk space, or were too close to fire hydrants or utility services.Cities often face resistance when building bike stations, too. Docks can take away coveted parking space, outraging drivers. In some historic districts, residents and planners see bike docks as incompatible with the atmosphere.Despite these challenges, officials tried to ensure equal access to the new bikes.“What I’m shooting for is uniformity across every neighborhood,” New York’s bike share director, John Frost, told residents at a community meeting in 2015.Differences between neighborhoodsPerfect uniformity is impossible, though. In both cities, we found that the government’s responsiveness to public input varied by neighborhood.New bike stations in and around downtown Chicago were far more likely to be sited where suggested than those in more suburban areas: 12 percent versus 6 percent. This could be because stations on the outskirts of a system generally are used less, and so are not built as densely as cyclists might like.The National Association ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Monday, January 14, 2019By Greg Griffin
    6 days ago
  • Could ‘Human Composting’ Mean a Better, Greener Death?
    When people die, usually one of two things happens to their bodies: Either they are buried below ground in caskets, or they are cremated, reduced to bone fragments by intense heat. But Washington State could soon get another option—human composting. This turns the body into nutrient-rich soil naturally in about 30 days.Last month, Washington State Senator Jamie Pedersen pre-filed a bill to legalize human composting, also known as “recomposition.” If it passes, Washington would be the first state in the U.S. to allow the practice. (The bill would also legalize alkaline hydrolysis, the dissolving of bodies in a pressurized vessel with water and potassium hydroxide, or lye; it is already legal in 16 states.) Pedersen introduced a bill to legalize alkaline hydrolysis in 2017 but without success.The fact that human composting is on the legislative agenda is largely thanks to designer and entrepreneur Katrina Spade. Spade is the founder and CEO of Recompose, a human-composting company, and she has spent years promoting it as a greener alternative to standard death practices. In the process that Recompose has devised, the body is placed in a vessel with wood chips, alfalfa, and straw, which work to decompose the body. The company co-sponsored a recent trial at Washington State University that determined recomposition is safe and effective, and Spade and her team say it uses only one-eighth the energy of cremation.Katrina Spade (left) with Lynne Carpenter-Boggs, a soil scientist and research advisor for Recompose. (WSU Communications)Spade wants to build a fully functioning human-composting facility in Seattle when the practice becomes legal. This would not simply offer a new way to dispose of remains, but be a place of comfort for relatives and friends of the deceased, with gardens and events like poetry readings. CityLab caught up with Spade to find out more about human composting and her vision for this state-of-the-art facility. The interview that follows has been lightly edited for length and clarity.Tell me about how you first became interested in this idea of human composting.I was in graduate school for architecture, and I began thinking about what would happen to my body after I died. And then I got a little obsessed with the funeral industry and the options we have. And then a friend of mine told me about this practice that farmers and agricultural institutions have been using for decades now to recycle animals back to the land. It was like a light bulb went off, and I decided to make it my mission to apply those principles to humans and create a new option for human disposition.Once you had this idea, where did you go from there?I had the luxury of being in graduate school, so it became my thesis project. I was at my desk many, many hours a day at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in the architecture department, just kind of imagining what would be meaningful and thinking a lot about what the space would look like and feel like.In 2014, I got this fellowship ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Monday, January 14, 2019By Hallie Golden
    6 days ago
  • CityLab Daily: The L.A. Teachers Strike Isn’t Just About Wages
    What We’re FollowingClassroom management: More than 30,000 Los Angeles public school teachers have begun a strike in the second-largest public school district in the U.S. The walk-out has highlighted teachers’ demands for smaller classes, more resources, and better pay. But union leaders have argued that the strike is as much about keeping neighborhood public schools open.With state laws limiting tax hikes and the district leaning more on charter schools, the intersection between school conditions and teacher compensation has put the squeeze on teachers, especially as L.A.’s average rent price rises. “My school has lost teachers almost every year because of lost enrollment to charter schools,” said one high school history teacher. “And also, frankly, because the neighborhood is getting more expensive to live in.” CityLab’s Sarah Holder has the story: The Los Angeles Teachers Strike Isn’t Just About WagesAndrew SmallMore on CityLab As an Elevated Highway Closes, Seattle Braces for Traffic Hell By closing the Alaskan Way Viaduct, Seattle ushers in a period of short-term commuter pain for long-term waterfront redevelopment gain. Gregory Scruggs Hard Lessons From Baltimore’s Bus Redesign After losing a $2.9 billion light-rail project, the transit-dependent city got a rebooted bus system. But ridership and reliability has barely budged. Danielle Sweeney California’s New Governor Would Punish Cities Over Affordable Housing Gavin Newsom wants to withhold transportation funds from areas that don't meet housing targets. But some worry that could punish California’s poorest. Laura Bliss The Language Debate Inside Japan's Convenience Stores Throughout Japan, store clerks and other service industry workers are trained to use the elaborate honorific speech called “manual keigo.” But change is coming. Allan Richarz The Truth About the Gig Economy Uber and similar companies aren’t driving huge changes in the way that Americans make a living. Annie Lowrey Behind the Posters (London Transport Museum)Over the past year, an exhibition at the London Transport Museum has highlighted unsung contributors to the London Underground’s visual identity: women. Since 1910, at least 170 female artists have been commissioned to make work for London’s public transit network, featured in the museum’s Poster Girls exhibit. Their role in creating the Underground’s instantly recognizable posters is probably no coincidence: The transit system expanded into a citywide network in 1900, around the same time that women first started graduating from British art academies in substantial numbers.But these creative women also faced dismissive attitudes in the art world that led them to commercial advertising in order to earn a living, where they created instantly recognizable images in near anonymity (and still got paid less than their male counterparts). CityLab contributor Feargus O’Sullivan writes that the posters “reveal a place where female artists were quietly shaping the way the city saw itself, its pleasures, and its future.” On CityLab: The Hidden Women Behind London’s Beloved Modernist Transit PostersWhat We’re ReadingSeattle’s Yesler Terrace, the first ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Monday, January 14, 2019By Andrew Small
    6 days ago
  • Seattle Braces for ‘Viadoom’—Three Weeks of Traffic Hell
    The view from the deck at Pike Place Market is postcard Pacific Northwest: Moody gray clouds hover over ferries slicing their way through cobalt Puget Sound set against a snow-capped Olympic Mountain backdrop. There’s just one wrinkle—the streams of traffic from a double-decker highway running so close to the market that its famous fish throwers could nail a Subaru with a sockeye.The dull roar of cars and trucks on Alaskan Way Viaduct, a 2.2-mile stretch of Highway 99 that runs along the city’s waterfront, has been a feature of downtown Seattle since 1953. That era ended Friday, when the elevated eyesore closed for good. The viaduct was deemed seismically unsafe after the 2001 Nisqually Earthquake, and its scenic-but-white-knuckle driving experience falls well below 21st century highway safety standards.The Washington State Department of Transportation will demolish the viaduct, freeing up 26 blocks of urban land. It will be replaced with a street-level boulevard and 20 acres of waterfront public space designed by James Corner Field Operations. Soon, Highway 99 will traverse Seattle below ground in a long-delayed bi-level tunnel dug by the world’s longest boring machine after a prolonged political fight pitting governor against mayor that made Seattle the laggard in a trio of major urban highway teardowns, alongside Boston’s Big Dig and San Francisco’s Embarcadero.But this transformation stands to be a painful one. The highway closure kicks off a two-year stretch that City Hall calls the Period of Maximum Constraint and everyone else calls the Seattle Squeeze. The viaduct’s 90,000 cars are losing their north-south waterfront right of way. There’s mass-transit help on the way, in the form of Seattle’s massive light rail expansion, which is set to open a key northern extension in 2021. In between, downtown commuters and residents will contend with a ferry terminal rebuild, a convention center expansion, 600 daily buses moving from the downtown transit tunnel onto surface streets, a streetcar missing link on hiatus, and street closures related to the construction of the city’s second-tallest building.The State Route 99 tunnel under construction in 2016. (Elaine Thompson/AP)The first three weeks of the Squeeze—known, somewhat apocalyptically, as Viadoom—are expected to be the worst, until the new State Route 99 tunnel opens on February 4. In anticipation of V-Day, local TV news has been running countdown clocks, and city officials are urging anyone who can to work from home, switch up hours, or take time off. Further amping up the state-of-emergency vibe, Mayor Jenny Durkan hired Mike Worden, a retired Air Force major general, to oversee the city’s response to the Squeeze. (His office did not return a request for an interview.)The state, county, and city have rolled out a handful of mitigation options. A free waterfront shuttle will expand its route and run earlier, later, and more frequently. Water taxi service will benefit from an additional vessel. On-demand vans in West Seattle will move people to the water taxi terminal, and accept ORCA cards for fare payment. Uber and Lyft is providing discounted ride-hailing to the ... read more
    Source: CityLabPublished on Monday, January 14, 2019By Gregory Scruggs
    6 days ago