The Commuting Principle That Shaped Urban History
> In 1994, Cesare Marchetti, an Italian physicist, described an idea that has come to be known as the Marchetti Constant. In general, he declared, people have always been willing to commute for about a half-hour, one way, from their homes each day. This principle has profound implications for urban life. The value of land is governed by its accessibility—which is to say, by the reasonable speed of transport to reach it.
> But the endurance of the Marchetti Constant has profound implications for urban life. It means that the average speed of our transportation technologies does more than anything to shape the physical structure of our cities. To see how, let’s travel back in time by more than 2,000 years, and move towards the present.
What is Haberman?
> I’d never heard of “Haberman” before. The name of the neighborhood that people who live here would recognize is Maspeth (which you can see up-and-to-the-right of Haberman). Is Haberman even a real neighborhood? Why did Google put this giant Haberman label on the map?
Lots of articles and links about design of shared urban spaces and their affect on behavior.
BART slows rollout of new trains as it contends with more repairs than expected
> One example is the “D” cars, which have a cab where the operator sits. The agency expects them to run 6,000 hours before hitting any kind of equipment failure that causes a delay of five minutes or more. They’re hovering at 1,000 hours.
What Internet Memes Get Wrong About Breezewood, Pennsylvania
> However, the idea that the photo is placeless is, to be blunt, nonsense. As others have pointed out before me, the setting is instantly recognizable as Breezewood and only Breezewood. Far from being “Every Town, U.S.A.,” Breezewood is a weird, improbable blip of a place. It’s what an architect might call a unique urban condition—a churning mini-city where the population nearly turns over every hour. (For this reason, and for the place’s sheer, unembarrassed honky-tonk, I’m a Breezewood fan.)
Billionaire insists he has legal parking spot on West Village street, infuriating neighbors who say he created a fake space for himself
This may be equal parts hilarious and infuriating.
> My other visit here was thirty years ago, and most of all I am surprised by how little has changed. The architecture now looks all the more retro, the alleyways all the more noir, and the motorbikes have by no means vanished. Yes there are plenty of new stores, but overall it is recognizably the same city, something you could not say about Seoul.
Visit a Crumbling, Soviet-Era Floating 'Oil City'
> Sail out into the western Caspian Sea and you’ll soon encounter an incredible sight: spires of steel rising from the waves, connected with miles of decrepit pipes and wooden bridges. This is Neft Dashlari, an inhabited, Soviet-era structure that’s said to be the “largest and oldest offshore oil city in the world.” It remains a productive source of petroleum to this day, as well as a token of interest to esoteric-architecture fans or parents wanting to punish bad children with the worst theme-park vacation ever.
Philadelphia Slaughterhouse Hotel
> Yesterday on my other blog I posted about the most hilariously mislocated hotel I’ve ever heard of. It’s the hotel that in 1910 was located in the Philadelphia stockyards, just the other side of the railroad tracks from the hog pens, between the slaughter house and the abbatoir:
How OS/2 Powered the NYC Subway
> Vintage technology has powered the innards of the NYC subway system for decades—and sometimes, it surfaces in interesting ways. This one’s for you, OS/2 fans.
1838-2019: Street Photography - A Photo For Every Year
Photo slideshow. 20 minutes.
Motorbikes in Taiwan. 3:27.
Here Grows New York
> Here Grows New York visually animates the development of this city’s street grid and infrastructure systems from 1609 to the present day, using geo-referenced road network data, historic maps, and geological surveys. The resulting short film presents a series of “cartographic snapshots” of the built-up area at intervals of every 20-30 years in the city’s history. This process highlights the organic spurts of growth and movement that typify New York’s and most cities’ development through time. The result is an abstract representation of urbanism.
Why Recycling Doesn't Work
> After being picked up, enormous volumes of recyclable waste are unloaded at a local materials-recovery facility (MRF, pronounced like “smurf”), dumped onto conveyor belts, and passed through a battery of sieves, magnets, optical sorters, and manual workers who separate each item into its own stream—plastic, paper, metal, and so on. The batches from each stream are then sent to gigantic balers, squeezed into cubes, and sold, often by middleman companies, to “end markets.” These are the manufacturers, in Canada and around the world, that profit from turning our waste into something new—toilet paper, perhaps, or plastic lawn furniture, egg cartons, or drywall. More than a public service, recycling is largely a commodity business, as dependent on supply and demand as any other. When municipalities produce more recyclable garbage than end markets can absorb, the value of the product decreases, and in the selling market, Canada faces competition from countries across the world.
Info Tech Of Ancient Democracy
> The Athenians had to keep those bodies flowing smoothly, then, and that was largely a matter of keeping track of who belonged where and when. They also had to maintain a smooth and dependable flow of the information generated by those bodies -- the votes, the decrees, the endless speechifying. They had, in short, to do a lot of stuff that modern information technology would have helped them tremendously to do, and nonetheless they managed pretty well, with the materials at hand, to build the tools they needed to make their system work.
> Those tools -- the info tech of ancient Athenian democracy -- are the subject of the following Notes. I present them now without further ado.
Parking Enforcers Who Chalk Tires Violate The Constitution
> A federal appeals court ruled Monday that “chalking” is a violation of the Fourth Amendment.
Terrible business, chalking.
> Law professor Orin Kerr, noting that he had never seen a chalking case before, said parking enforcement officers could sidestep the constitutional issue altogether by simply taking a photo of the car rather than using chalk.
Ah, yes, much better.
For cramped New York, an expanding dining scene
> My first culinary encounter was with pizza, a mysterious kind of baked tlayuda, covered in macerated tomatoes and milk coagulation, and occasionally smothered with a type of thinly sliced lap cheong called pepperoni. The odd dish, sometimes referred to as a pie, washed ashore from Naples some years ago. While the taste takes some getting used to, pizza can be enchanting when done properly.
> Look no further than Roberta’s in up-and-coming Brooklyn, a dangerous, brooding suburb accessible through the city’s antiquated system of underground metal cars (similar to Los Angeles’ Metro system, but more expensive). It was, nevertheless, worth the arduous trip to enjoy a Lil’ Stinker pizza ($18), covered in tomato mash and curdled milk, along with garlic and tangy peppers.
Chicago Parking Ticket Visualization
> In this post, I want to show off a fun little web app I made for visualizing parking tickets in Chicago, but because I’ve spent so much time on the overall project, I figured I’d share the story that got me to this point. In many ways, this work is the foundation for my interest in public records and transparency, so it has a very special place in my heart.
After a winter restoration, the famed Hornbean Ellipse is almost back
> The historic garden at Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown is a necklace of finely crafted spaces, but one garden room stands out as particularly special. The Hornbeam Ellipse is an enclosed oval terrace in the heart of the 16-acre garden, formal yet serene. Its soulfulness comes from its perfect proportions — it is both expansive and intimate — and from the strength and simplicity of its design.
Cat ladders: a creative solution for felines in flats
> Strategically placed ramps and ladders for urban cats are all the rage in Bern. Brigitte Schuster’s photo book Swiss Cat Ladders documents the phenomenon