If New York City were Middle Earth, Sauron would doubtless be portrayed by Robert Moses, destroying neighborhood after neighborhood in his own endless quest for greater power and a lifeless personal vision of the city that had no thoughts of its inhabitants. But when he set his eyes on leveling SoHo and Little Italy for a ten-lane expressway across Lower Manhattan, he ran up against an unlikely Frodo. Jane Jacobs would have been 100 years old today.
A new Report on the State of Health + Urbanism (pdf) from MIT looks at the relationship between urban planning and public health, with some surprising findings. The cities covered are Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Minneapolis, New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. [more inside]
British market-research firm Ipsos Mori has released the results of "The largest ever global study of the best city to do business in, live in, and visit." Interactive data here, more info here.
Dan Grover and Mike Belfrage have mapped transit inequality in the Bay Area after reading a New Yorker piece on the New York City subway (previously). The ways in which a widening income gap are changing the demography of San Francisco have been widely reported of late (previously, previously). The project's code is available if you'd like to try mapping your own city.
Evolution Right Under Our Noses. "A small but growing number of field biologists study urban evolution — the biological changes that cities bring to the wildlife that inhabits them." [Via]
In the 1960's, 70's and 80's, urban decay and high crime rates caused retail chain supermarkets to flee New York City. (google books link) Korean immigrants filled the gap with corner grocery stores. For nearly two decades they were ubiquitous -- symbols of the group's ongoing quest to achieve the American Dream. But 30 years later, Where Did The Korean Greengrocers Go? [more inside]
8bit Cities: Amsterdam - Austin - Berlin - Detroit - London - New York - Paris - San Francisco - Seattle - Washington, D.C.
Uneven Terrain is a series of short documentaries about urban exploration, about 10-15 minutes long each. There are six so far, about monumental ruins in New York, Centralia, the Pennsylvania town where an underground coalseam has been on fire since the 1960s, abandoned missile silos in the US and how they're being turned into homes, oil drilling in Los Angeles, the Teufelberg listening station and the abandoned bunkers under Tempelhof Airport in Berlin and pirate radio in London and on the old Redsand sea forts. Each short doc has a different presenter. All have accompanying photo galleries. [These are produced for the bootmaker Palladium, but it's pretty low-key]
The New York City Open Accessible Space Information System Cooperative (OASIS) is an online, interactive mapping and data analysis application that gives an incredibly detailed view of New York City's open spaces and how they are used. The map enables overlays of information like: transit; parks, playgrounds and open space; zoning and landmarks; current and historical land use; social services; demographics; and environmental characteristics.(via The Ministry of Type, who like OASIS mainly for its pretty map possibilities.) [more inside]
Are you a young middle-class creative type (probably white) who has chosen to live in an urban neighborhood that your parents would have shunned? Have the families that formerly lived in your neighborhood (probably not white) been pushed out by soaring rents and real-estate prices to the city fringes or suburbs? The New Republic on demographic inversion.
New York City is the greenest city in America. Eighty-two per cent of Manhattan residents travel to work by public transit, by bicycle, or on foot. That's ten times the rate for Americans in general, and eight times the rate for residents of Los Angeles County. New York City is more populous than all but eleven states; if it were granted statehood, it would rank 51st in per-capita energy use.... But this is not necessarily something people want to hear: In a conversation with a Sierra Club representative involved in Challenge to Sprawl, I said that the organization's anti-sprawl suggestions and the modified streetscapes in the slide show shared many significant features with Manhattan-whose most salient characteristics include wide sidewalks, narrow streets, mixed uses, densely packed buildings, and an extensive network of subways and buses. The representative hesitated, then said that I was essentially correct, although he would prefer that the program not be described in such terms, since emulating New York City would not be considered an appealing goal by most of the people whom the Sierra Club is trying to persuade
"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]
The wonderful online history journal Common-Place is presenting a special issue entitled "Early Cities of the Americas." Nineteen essays, each concerning a particular incident, person, place or encounter in the early life of a city, together provide a "worm's eye view" of what urban life was like in early postcolonial North and South America. Learn about vigilante justice and press sensationalism in 1856 San Francisco, or about a day in the life of a peasant family in Lima of the 1760s. Other essays concern the 17th-century "treasure city" of Havana, searching for salvation as a slave in 1647 New Amsterdam (New York), and capital punishment in colonial Paramaribo, Suriname. "Reading these essays cannot but help readers gain some historical perspective on the modern condition," especially as you see how many of the issues we associate with modern urban life (poverty, crime, bowling?) are not exactly recent developments.
After an extensive search of my personal archives (box of stuff stored at my parent's), I stumbled upon the true inspiration for the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Seven years prior, video game manufactuer Koei Games released Aerobiz, an airline management simulator. Its boxart features this chilling image of the New York City skyline. I am not a New Yorker so please, correct me if I am wrong, but the positioning of the Empire State building and the Chrysler building would seem to place the office inside one of the World Trade Center towers.
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...
A developer is pushing new luxury rental apartments in this building in Lower Manhattan with ads on nytimes.com. Rentals are probably slow because the building is five blocks from a disaster zone. But let's all just pretend it's not. Potential renters, take note: "actual view south" may not be the actual view south.