A Century Later, the Expensive Lesson of Reversing the Chicago River
Way back in 1673, the French Canadian explorer Louis Jolliet noticed that the land around present-day Chicago had “a very great and important advantage, which perhaps will hardly be believed.” The area, he foresaw, could become the great node of a huge continent, with the Great Lakes on one side and, just a few miles to the southwest, the Illinois River and the entire Mississippi Basin. Jolliet envisioned, rather hopefully, that connecting the two — and creating a water route from Lake Erie all the way to the Gulf of Mexico – would be as simple as building a canal through just “half a league of prairie.”
Geeking out over arbitrary boundaries
Reddit today had this delightful map, I think drawn by PeterVexillographer, of “the largest city in each 10-by-10 degree area of latitude-longitude in the world”:
Some commentary on the near misses.
Cities are closing streets to make way for restaurants and pedestrians
The forced distancing required by the coronavirus prompted several cities to quickly close some public roads to make room so cooped-up residents anxious to get outside for exercise could do so safely.
Now, following moves to shut, narrow or repurpose streets from Oakland to Tampa, cities including Washington are seeking to understand how those emergency closures might have lasting impacts on some of urban America’s most important, and contested, real estate.
The 1918 Parade That Spread Death in Philadelphia
The influenza pandemic of 1918-19 killed between 50 and 100 million people around the world, more than died in the battles of World War I. In the United States, the hardest-hit city was Philadelphia, where the spread of the disease was spurred by what was meant to be a joyous event: a parade.
Paved for the people
“They paved paradise and put up a parking lot,” sings Joni Mitchell. But at Prahran Square, almost the reverse took place. Lyons Architecture and Aspect Studios have transformed a carpark into an urban sanctuary of sorts, an island of open space and amenity in Melbourne’s rapidly densifying suburbs.
The New York City Subway Map as You’ve Never Seen It Before
The three ins of web design: interesting and infuriatingly interactive.
The Unrepeatable Architectural Moment of Yugoslavia’s “Concrete Utopia”
Monument to the Uprising of the People of Kordun and Banija, in Petrova Gora, Croatia. Abstract, boldly expressive memorials once dotted the Yugoslavian countryside by the thousands.
A look inside the never-before-seen interior of San Francisco’s Ferry Building clock tower
Beware the shitty autoplaying videos. Support local news!
But some of the pictures are kinda cool.
An Incredible Move: The Indiana Bell Telephone Building
The massive undertaking began on October 1930. Over the next four weeks, the massive steel and brick building was shifted inch by inch 16 meters south, rotated 90 degrees, and then shifted again by 30 meters west. The work was done with such precision that the building continued to operate during the entire duration of the move. All utility cables and pipes serving the building, including thousand of telephone cables, electric cables, gas pipes, sewer and water pipes had to be lengthened and made flexible to provide continuous service during the move. A movable wooden sidewalk allowed employees and the public to enter and leave the building at any time while the move was in progress. The company did not lose a single day of work nor interrupt their service during the entire period.
Uzbekistan's opulent metro
Cars Were Banned on 14th Street. The Apocalypse Did Not Come.
Norilsk: Otherworldly photos of an Arctic city
In our latest Through the Lens, Russian photographer Elena Chernyshova explores what it’s like to live in a city 400km north of the Arctic Circle.
My summer vacation: London public transportation
The two main forms of mass transit are the tube and buses. Passes are good for both systems, except where noted. There aren’t many options, which is good, because it makes decision-making easier. I’ll start by focusing on tickets for zones 1 and 2, which is where the major tourist attractions are. Prices are as of summer 2019.
Stairs to nowhere are everywhere these days. Where are they taking us?
We love to look down on other people, and we love it even more when they look up at us. The architect Morris Lapidus understood this when he designed the grand staircase of the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami. He called it the “Stairs to Nowhere” because they led only to a coat closet, where the beautiful people could leave their jackets and then swan down the stairs, catching the eye of everyone below.
Sixty-five years later, the new stairs-to-nowhere are “stepped seating” — though it may look like the thing in high school you called “bleachers” — and it’s become one of the most Instagrammable and possibly the most overused architectural features of the decade.
The (Mostly) True Story of Helvetica and the New York City Subway
There is a commonly held belief that Helvetica is the signage typeface of the New York City subway system, a belief reinforced by Helvetica, Gary Hustwit’s popular 2007 documentary about the typeface. But it is not true—or rather, it is only somewhat true. Helvetica is the official typeface of the MTA today, but it was not the typeface specified by Unimark International when it created a new signage system at the end of the 1960s. Why was Helvetica not chosen originally? What was chosen in its place? Why is Helvetica used now, and when did the changeover occur? To answer those questions this essay explores several important histories: of the New York City subway system, transportation signage in the 1960s, Unimark International and, of course, Helvetica. These four strands are woven together, over nine pages, to tell a story that ultimately transcends the simple issue of Helvetica and the subway.
Where oil rigs go to die
When a drilling platform is scheduled for destruction, it must go on a thousand-mile final journey to the breaker’s yard. As one rig proved when it crashed on to the rocks of a remote Scottish island, this is always a risky business
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.