Parisians claim that in Paris, one is never more than 400 yards away from a Metro station. In Los Angeles, I am equally certain that one is always within 400 yards of a palm tree. Scores of streets are lined with them; they are ubiquitous in domestic and public gardens; they rise from hilltops; they tower above cemeteries; they front museums, movie studios, hotels, hospitals, municipal buildings, modest apartments, and lavish villas; they are clustered around swimming pools; they dominate the skyline — they are everywhere, and have never been more popular. The city’s 200-year love affair with palms has never ceased, and rather than waning, the affair is waxing. From the first palms planted by Spanish padres to the city of Beverly Hills, which recently, in an act of cosmetic alteration, created a palm-lined, palm-bisected thoroughfare on upscale Rodeo Drive, the palm has been the tree of choice for Angelenos. [more inside]
V-Day cards for planners, architects, urban designers, landscape architects, transportation engineers, and those who love them.
In 1999, officials in Vienna, Austria, asked residents of the city's ninth district how often and why they used public transportation. "Most of the men filled out the questionnaire in less than five minutes," says Ursula Bauer, one of the city administrators tasked with carrying out the survey. "But the women couldn't stop writing."
Buildings in the Netherlands by year of construction is a map worth getting lost in.
With cities, it is as with dreams: everything imaginable can be dreamed, but even the most unexpected dream is a rebus that conceals a desire or, its reverse, a fear. Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else. December 2012 marks the 40th anniversary of Invisible Cities -- the sublime metaphysical travelogue by author-journalist Italo Calvino. In a series of pensive dialogues with jaded emperor Kublai Khan, the explorer Marco Polo describes a meandering litany of visionary and impossible places, dozens of surreal, fantastical cities, each poetically reifying ideas vital to language, philosophy, and the human spirit. This gracefully written love letter to urban life has inspired countless tributes, but it's just the most accessible of Calvino's fascinating literary catalogue. Look inside for a closer look at his most remarkable works, links to English translations of his magical prose, and collections of artistic interpretations from around the web -- including this treasure trove of essays, excerpts, articles, and recommended reading. [more inside]
Astana, the new capital of Kazakhstan, is brash and grandiose—and wildly attractive to young strivers seeking success. [more inside]
Danish architect Jan Gehl on making cities safe for people, the art and science of designing good cities for walking, and how to plan good cities for bicycling.
Visualizing Early Washington. A project at the Imaging Research Center of the University of Maryland-Baltimore County has reconstructed the original landscape of Washington DC before its radical transformation into a modern capital city. [more inside]
City of Sound as it describes itself, is a blog about cities, design, architecture, media, music, etc. But calling it a blog really does it a disservice. City of Sound is a category-killer; amazingly dense, thoughtful, erudite, and compelling, it begins to catalog our urban identity. A bit of reminiscent of Metropolis magazine, if it was edited by Robert Rauschenberg. If you've not visited, do yourself a favor. It is a treasure trove. [more inside]
An interview with Lebbeus Woods -- designer and illustrator of speculative futuristic landscapes and buildings. Woods just set up his own website, which has an amazing quantity of drawings, photographs, and text focusing on his lesser known projects [for those willing to deal with a frustrating flash interface and sound. It's better in IE than Firefox.] [more inside]
"First we kill the architects..." Photographer Danny Lyon [1, 2, 3, 4] offers ten suggestions for New York City. Suggestion #6: "Leave the World Trade Center excavation exactly as it is and use the space as a freshwater pond planted with pink, white, and yellow lilies..." His essay is only one of many from names you'll recognize in a book called Block by Block: Jane Jacobs and the Future of New York. An associated exhibition opened yesterday [museum, NYT review]. Is New York City moving in the right direction? Is your city? [via] [more inside]
Cranespotting (Geocities) ... is the compulsion, upon seeing a long crane boom reaching skyward in the distance, to drive over and see what's holding it up. The crane capital of the world is Germany, where Demag, Gottwald, Krupp, Liebherr and others make some cranes with eye-opening numbers: more than 60 feet long, with 10 axles, and able to lift 1,000 tons. Now sometimes cranes tip over, touch power lines and so on; and there's a website for that too.
The New York City I first saw in 1985 has partially disappeared, and vanishes more everyday. The New York of 50 years ago, the veneer of daily life in the city, is but a memory. The city of 100 years ago is a shadow, remembered by no one. But the past remains, if not in direct human memory, in "lampposts, advertisements, bridges, buildings, signs, and things you pass every day in the street that bear silent witness to the NYC that once was." What lies forgotten below the streets? The decaying splendor of an bygone age, as well as the deep roots that have sprouted and nourished the present, living city...