Mark Kingwell: "Walking in a city is the greatest unpriced pleasure there is." [more inside]
"Demolished: the end of Chicago's Public Housing" A look back at Chicago's 20th-century public housing high-rises, and how they were taken down. Also an interesting form of web presentation. (SLNPR)
Dérive is a smartphone app inspired by the Situationists that encourages you to wander your city. You can use the general deck, use one for Abu Dhabi, Biella, Ithaca, Johannesburg, Kampala, New York City, Paris or San Francisco, or make your own
[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 serial killer of cities is wandering about the planet. Its name is UNESCO, and its weapon is the “World Heritage” designation
Two tourists from Denmark spent five weeks travelling around Canada and, disappointed by the car-centric lifestyle, urban sprawl, lack of human-scale infrastructure and related obesity and unfulfilment, wrote an open letter to the powers that be, lamenting this and urging them to take radical steps to make Canada healthy, happy and sustainable. [more inside]
Ta-Nehisi Coates writes in The Atlantic:The Effects of Housing Segregation on Black Wealth. As the wealth gap widens between whites and blacks in America, and after reading this list and this list, he concludes The Ghetto Is Public Policy. [more inside]
The latest project of detroiturbex.com is Detroit: The Evolution of a City, showing incredible then and now photographs with a sliding interface, so you can see the changes (good and bad) across the decades. It's broken up into five sections: A Growing City, Deindustrialization, Unrest, Decay, and Revival. Previously from detroiturbex: Cass Tech superimposed photos. [more inside]
For years, Google Maps has been the map of our world in a historically unprecedented way. The new Google Maps (announcement) will eschew the uniformity of the old Maps and instead customize the map experience based on a user's behavior. Some are concerned how this artificial narrowing will affect the way we experience places and relate to our urban spaces. Others believe the customization makes the new maps more honest. Most, however, will probably just want to comment on the huge overhaul to the interface.
Cairobserver is the start of a conversation about Cairo’s architecture and building, urban fabric and city life. A well curated blog about Cairo featuring both Arabic and English essays. [more inside]
"The Hole is a small triangle of land divided in half by Brooklyn and Queens, and is located west of the intersection of Linden and Conduit Boulevard. The Hole is literally a hole. It is "30 feet below grade," according to the NY Times, sunken down from the busy roads around it. The neighborhood floods often and is only a few feet above the water table, so its homes are "not incorporated into the city sewer system. They all have cesspools," according to the NY Times. Streets are threatened by reedy marshes, and many residents keep a boat parked in the driveway." It's also home to some stables used by the Federation of Black Cowboys. Brooklyn's Lost Neighborhood [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.
What are the things that will help create more Nimble Cities? (This post is heavy with slate-related links.) Slate asks readers to help make transportation in and between cities more efficient, safe, and pleasant. "While we're certainly not opposed to your most forward-looking proposals: Let's fire up Chicago's once sprawling pneumatic tube network; let's not let those zeppelin masts go to waste!--what we're most interested in are things in the here and now, things that are already making (or will soon be making) a difference in your city." Should cities install moving sidewalks? How about eliminating parking spaces or bicycle highways? [more inside]
Cairo, Illinois is mostly abandoned. It was once a thriving city of 15,000, but the Mississippi barges don't stop there anymore, and racial turmoil, including a three-year boycott of white-owned businesses that refused to hire black workers, killed the town's economy. The Cairo Project, from Southern Illinois University, is a good overview of Cairo's history and its current situation. Can punk label Plan-it-X start a rebirth by moving to Cairo and opening a coffeeshop? If it helps, there's still good barbecue.
A Better Block. For a weekend, local urbanism advocates in the Oak Cliff neighborhood of Dallas transformed a block into a complete street. Reactions from city officials have been positive. Also: photos from the event and associated Art Crawl, and a deeper look at the event and what it means.
"Imagine a large corporation with a workforce whose African American percentage far lagged its industry peers, sans any apparent concern, and without a credible action plan to remediate it. Would such a corporation be viewed as a progressive firm and employer? The answer is obvious. Yet the same situation in major cities yields a different answer."
Newcomers, with the zeal of recent converts, are often the most vocal in resisting change to the neighborhood they have just discovered. An exploration of NIMBYism. If not in your backyard, then whose? Probably a low-income minority group. Opposition to affordable housing is often thinly-veiled racism. How NIMBYism affects a seven-year old boy on LA's skid row. [more inside]
Another Paul Graham essay, Cities and Ambition. This one's one of his better ones though. His claim: each city sends its inhabitants a distinct message about how they should live their lives. New York City sends the message that you should be richer. Cambridge sends the message that you should be smarter. Berkeley sends the message that you should live better. Consequently, the city you live in has a profound effect on what you strive for, what you value, and how you channel your ambitions. Place matters; choose wisely. [more inside]
Landscape Urbanism Bullshit Generator. Now you can join in when the rest of the architecture grad students go to the roof to smoke a joint/apply for grant money.
Remember the Town Disney Built? -- 50% of the homes in Celebration, Florida are up for sale. A failure of corporate-owned and -planned Community™? or just a fallout of the bursting of the housing bubble? And whither New Urbanism? [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.
By the year 2050, nearly 80% of the earth’s population will reside in urban centers. An estimated 109 hectares of new land (about 20% more land than is represented by the country of Brazil) will be needed to grow enough food to feed them, if traditional farming practices continue as they are practiced today. A Potential Solution: farm vertically.
BoKlok: Flat-packed boxes + alan wrench = home! With these relatively attractive six-plexes, Ikea seems to have made a reality of Le Corbusier's dream of mass-produced housing.