The Origin of Cities - "It may seem odd to conduct the rise of cities to ritual, inequality, and debt, and yet they play a very large role in the urban revolution." (via) [more inside]
"The reason your neighborhood increasingly resembles a hometown mall is because somebody’s banker prefers it that way," writes Patrick Clark at Bloomberg.com. [more inside]
[more inside]We want our tools to sing of not just productivity but of our love of curiosity, the joy of wonderment, and the freshness of the unknown. —Eric Paulos, “Manifesto of Open Disruption and Participation”In his essay “Walking in the City,” the French scholar Michel de Certeau talks about the “invisible identities of the visible.” He is talking specifically about the memories and personal narratives associated with a location. Until recently, this information was only accessible one-to-one—that is, by talking to people who had knowledge of a place. But what if that data became one-to-many, or even many-to-many, and easily accessible via some sort of street-level interface that could be accessed manually, or wirelessly using a smartphone?
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]
Ask A Native New Yorker: How Guilty Should I Feel About Being A Horrible Gentrifier? Passionate response from a Bushwick native.
More than just pictures of electric Brill, Flyer and Pullman buses, trolleybuses.net has some great old street-level shots of many cities in North America.
Trading Places - photographer Steve Bloom's latest book focuses on the business people, shops, and signs of Nairobi. Take a panoramic walk down Kitengela Road in what is arguably the largest panoramic stitched together from hundreds of photos. In another clip, Bloom talks about his experiences taking the photos. (Via About:Blank)
In 2008 the late Robert Fitch, author of "The Assassination of New York", was asked to foretell an Obama presidency before the Harlem Tenants Association:
If we examine more carefully the interests that Obama represents; if we look at his core financial supporters; as well as his inmost circle of advisors, we’ll see that they represent the primary activists in the demolition movement and the primary real estate beneficiaries of this transformation of public housing projects into condos and townhouses: the profitable creep of the Central Business District and elite residential neighborhoods southward; and the shifting of the pile of human misery about three miles further into the South Side and the south suburbs... Obama’s political base comes primarily from Chicago FIRE—the finance, insurance and real estate industry. And the wealthiest families—the Pritzkers, the Crowns and the Levins.
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]
Moving Beyond the Automobile is a series of ten short videos by Streetfilms that highlights new directions in urban transportation. It shows how cities in the U.S. are encouraging a shift away from car dependency and making it easier and more pleasant to get around by other means. [more inside]
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]
Worldchanging Bright Green Future City - Alex Steffen sits down with the mayors of Portland and Seattle to talk about
which is better the 'future city' and the confluence of urbanization, social justice and environmental change, not to mention political pushback amid high unemployment and cultural inertia.
How segregated is your city? Eric Fischer maps the top 40 US cities by race, using 2000 census data. Each color-coded dot represents 25 people: Red is White, Blue is Black, Green is Asian, and Orange is Hispanic. The maps are oddly pretty, and revealing. Compare, for example, Detroit and San Antonio. via [more inside]
"Eighty-seven percent of all trips are made by personal vehicle and 99 percent of those trips arrive at a free parking space." But that free parking comes at a high cost according to Donald Shoup's research. He advocates for charging the right price for on-street parking and for removing off-street parking requirements. Shoup's ideas are coming to the streets in San Francisco's new demand-responsive parking system. Loyal Shoupistas work to spread and implement his ideas.
A new project called CitID is attempting to collect logos and/or typefaces representing every city in the world. So far, they have over 150 submissions, including Berlin, Kiev, Portland, Bogota, Tokyo, and Cape Town. [more inside]
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.
"Q: What the hell is this site about? This is a site about urban exploration in the Ozarks." Abandoned water slides, underground tunnels, abandoned buildings and half-demolished malls throughout Missouri were all once fair game for this blog, and remain fair game for those who post in Underground Ozarks' forums.
From the Improv Everywhere people comes the Urban Prankster blog to keep track of delightful shenanigans around the world.
"This is a building where our deeply-troubled public school system once stored its supplies, and then one day apparently walked away from it all, allowing everything to go to waste...All that's left is an overwhelming sense of knowledge unlearned and untapped potential." (Via Making Light.)
"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 Conflux Festival brings together mapmakers, urban adventurers, and performers to "investigate the physical and psychological landscapes of cities," NYC in this case. Tunnels and shortcuts, turning city sound samples into music, guerilla radio on unused FM frequencies, and a nighttime game of pursuit. My personal favorite is tide-propelled commuting on the Tide and Current Taxi. Via Flavorpill.
Joe Nishizawa's new photojournalism book, Deep Inside, is a visual exploration of the amazing, highly mechanized world under Japan's urban areas. This brief interview with the author is accompanied by several interesting photos.
Transit in Detroit details an urban planner's initiative to cut the costs of the city's traffic congestion-relieving highway expansion by proposing a transit system combining light rail and bus-rapid-transit. [More Inside]
Ed Bacon, friend to skaters, died Friday. He presided over a successful urban renewal campaign (a rarity), yet leaves behind a complex legacy in the city he loved. [bugmenot]
Is a "virtual" Philly even better than the real thing? Well, GeoSim Systems thinks so. Except for the aroma of freshly-grilled cheesesteak, at least. Their "Virtual Philadelphia" is the most detailed urban imaging system I've seen yet, and you can read about the monumental process of turning photographic images (taken from both aircraft and street-level) into this incredible rendering in a February 17 NY Times article (reg req). And - as expected - Google wants to get in on the action and do the same thing in San Francisco. via BB
Shinsato: Great vacant night cityscapes of Osaka and Tokyo.
The fabulous ruins of Detroit: "After decades of blight, large swathes of Detroit are being reclaimed by nature. Roughly a third of this 139-square-mile city consists of weed-choked lots and dilapidated buildings . . . rather than fight this return to nature, urban farmers have embraced it, gradually converting 15 acres of idle land into more than 40 community gardens and microfarms — some consuming entire blocks." [note: NY Times link]
Why we are all Venetians now Witold Rybczynski talks about the changing functions of cities, urban planning and reuse, and the tourism industry where "the urban experience has become a new product of cities."
Ruavista explores city streets and urban life through all kinds of signs: street graphics, architecture, street sounds. Put simply, a fantastic resource for urban photography.
Sprawl-induced aberrant driving behavior is a theory proposed by University of Ottawa geography professor Barry Wellar. Suburban roads, built for speed, encourage aggressive driving and bad habits that drivers can sort of get away with in the suburbs, but that carry over to other areas. So that's why it always seems that they're trying to run me off the sidewalk.
'You will stay in Saskatoon, you will stay in Moose Jaw': Plan would force newcomers to agree to live outside biggest cities for three to five years
'You will stay in Saskatoon, you will stay in Moose Jaw': Plan would force newcomers to agree to live outside biggest cities for three to five years A new idea would have immigrants forced to live in rural Canadian communities for the first 3-5 years to offset the fact that young Canadians are fleeing them for the opportunities in the big cities. I sympathize with the loss that rural Canada is facing, I just don't see this working out the way proponents expect.
Lane Splitting 101. Do you ride? Do you commute on your bike? Are you insane enough to split lanes? Or... Do you drive? Do lane-splitting bikes piss you off? Do they give you heart attacks?
Pigeons Ride the Subway!(NYT Link) This reporter found truth behind a New York urban legend, train riding pigeons. Any weird stories of urbanized animals in your area?