After getting keys to a newly abandoned rowhouse on East Fourth Street, he invited several dozen street artists and graffiti writers to paint the vacant apartments. The collaboration, which he called Surplus Candy, was illegal and somewhat secret -- exactly the combination that would produce page views. ...
“You throw in a couple of keywords -- East Village, illegal, street art -- people will run with that,” he said.
But, hey, what can we say? We think illegal street art projects in the East Village are cool. At least, this one certainly is:
Urbanist policies are often thought of in the positive: building bike lanes, light-rail lines, pedestrian plazas, and mixed-use developments. But the suburban sprawl that swept across our landscape left a lot of detritus, so urbanists also have to focus on getting rid of the negative -- in many cases, this means highways.
It’s no coincidence that the watershed moment in American urbanism wasn’t the initiation of a new urbanist project. Rather, Jane Jacobs rallied her Greenwich Village neighbors to stop the Lower Manhattan Expressway from ever being built. Other cities that abandoned their most ill-conceived highway plans in the face of community resistance, like Vancouver and San Francisco, are noted today for their high quality of life and low carbon footprint.
But in much of North America, limited-access highways tore through downtowns and surrounding urban neighborhoods. Designed to bring suburban drivers into and through inner cities, these elevated behemoths consumed everything in their paths and cast shadows over what was left. They separated residents from their communities, waterfronts, and public amenities. Now, as they age, it has come time for cities to determine what to do with them: rebuild, replace, or tear down.
Every year, the Congress for a New Urbanism issues a report, “Freeways Without Futures,” that lists highways deserving of demolition. In its recently released 2014 edition, the group writes: “CNU advocates for replacing urban freeways with surface streets, boulevards and avenues as the most cost-effective, sustainable option for cities grappling with aging grade separated roads. This has the added benefit of providing significant opportunities to heal local street networks and improve regional traffic dispersion.”
The 10 freeways on the list, and an additional five that have been targeted by campaigns for removal, have much in common: Built in the two decades after World War II, and thus nearing the end of their design life, they degrade their environs. Several were conceived by New York’s infamous master builder Robert Moses. One, in Buffalo, actually split in half a park designed by the great landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead. Another, which bears Moses’ name, separates the city of Niagara Falls from its famous attraction. Here's the full list:
Since 1928, the Hampton Avenue Truss Bridge in Greenville, S.C., helped connect the predominantly African American, low-income residents of the Southernside community with the grocery stores, pharmacies, and public buses on the other side. But the state demolished the bridge, which was in poor condition, in 2012 -- a severance that means Southernside is now “likely to die,” says civil rights attorney Allison Riggs, because “quite frankly, there are just no economic generators on that side to keep it alive.”
Southernside residents, who were never consulted on the bridge removal, now have two options for reaching the rest of the city: Walk across the active Norfolk Southern Railway tracks (which the truss bridge once spanned), or take the Pete Hollis Blvd highway -- a dangerous option for those without cars. Meanwhile, the more affluent, white Greenville denizens can get back and forth across the city without the same burdens.
The community has literally been left on the wrong side of the tracks.
Did Dickensian London really smell like cold porridge and desperation? Was Paris in the 1700s all croissants and roses? Daring Atlantic reporter John Metcalfe recently plunged his nose into “Urban Olfactory,” an exhibit at SPUR in downtown San Francisco, to find out.
As it turns out, Paris in 1738 smelled like “skunked red wine, wet cats, and gingivitis-tinged sputum, all bubbling in an open sewer on a record-setting summer's day,” according to Metcalfe. The exhibit’s perfumes range from pleasant spices and cedar (Strait of Bosphorus and Louis XIV’s court, respectively) to downright nasty French countryside shit and San Francisco smog. Writes Metcalfe:
One snort [of “Pollution”] and I could see why governments crafted anti-smog laws; the acrid stink, like a Hefty bag overflowing with cigarette butts, was so strong you could almost chew it.
Ever since the rise of Occupy Wall Street, the issue of inequality has been getting some long overdue attention. President Obama has made strengthening the middle class -- every cautious Democrat’s preferred euphemism for economic justice -- the centerpiece of his second term and his recent State of the Union address. Even Republicans are starting to talk about inequality, albeit incoherently.
Sprawl has trapped many Americans in poverty: Unable to afford a car, maintenance, insurance, and gasoline, they cannot get from their suburban homes to jobs. For many middle-class Americans, their car is an albatross, forcing them to spend too much money just getting to work everyday. That’s one reason that a recent Harvard study found that transit-rich coastal cities such as New York, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Boston ranked among the country’s top 10 metro areas for economic mobility, while auto-dependent Southern cities such as Atlanta and Jacksonville ranked near the bottom.
Similarly, the heating and electric bills to maintain an inefficient, detached suburban home can be extravagant. Every dollar spent to fill up your car or heat your house is a dollar not put to a better purpose: spending on your child’s college education, investing in a new business, or saving for retirement.
Real-time pedestrian data, FastCoExist notes, is quite valuable to all sorts of people: "city planners, business owners, police interested in crowd control." Also, we would note, normal people trying to dodge pre-storm grocery lines.
Just checked the grocery store twitter feed to try and get pre-storm line conditions for @sarahmseltzer. My friendship knows no bounds.
So, a startup called Placemeter is working on getting access to data from cameras all over New York City to watch you while you walk, FastCoExist says. They think they need about 3,000 feeds -- right now they've only got 500.
In 2001, Austin lawyer Stacy Zoern totaled her van. It had been customized to accommodate her wheelchair, and it could’ve cost up to $80,000 to replace. So she stopped driving altogether.
While doing some googling a decade later, Zoern discovered the Kenguru (Hungarian for “kangaroo” and pronounced the same), an EV concept specifically designed for people who use wheelchairs. Its creator, Istvan Kissaroslaki, had all but given up on it, as the recession meant a big loan fell through. Zoern convinced him to move to Texas, and together they found 30 investors and raised the $4 million needed to get the car on the road. And in 12 to 18 months, drivers with disabilities will be able to snag a Kenguru!
Today marks the 20th anniversary of President Clinton signing Executive Order 12898, a landmark for the environmental justice movement. The day is recognized as the moment that the federal government finally began taking seriously the racial disparities created by some of its own actions with regards to permits for polluting factories, as well as transportation systems, energy production, and natural resources conservation.
Not every president gave environmental justice the same respect. President George H. W. Bush gave the issue some office space. George W. Bush ignored it altogether.
The Obama administration has worked to restore some of the order’s powers to compel federal agencies to consider the race- and class-based impacts of permitting and rulemaking decisions. Lisa Jackson, the first African American female chief of the Environmental Protection Agency, made environmental justice a priority. Her successor, Gina McCarthy, has pledged to do the same. Obama also reinstated the Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice, which was created by Clinton’s order but went stale under W. Bush. The group includes representatives of 17 federal agencies and the White House, all of whom pledged in 2010 to integrate EJ principles into their work.
Still, we have a long way to go. That much was evident when Obama announced his Climate Action Plan last year with little nod to the EJ framework that identifies racial and economic disparities.
If you are a regular rider of a subway system, there’s no better feeling than getting on the train at exactly the right place so that you can exit directly in front of the stairwell, beat everyone else to the transfer platform, and catch your next train just before it pulls out of the station. You are the master. You are the best.
The Efficient Passenger Project is on a mission to put up signs throughout the subway system guiding commuters to the best spot to board a train in order to make the quickest exit or transfer. The anonymous participants have been placing "Efficient Passenger Project" stickers on and around the turnstiles in select subway stations, signaling the presence of a plaque on the platform that tells you exactly where to stand to make your commute most efficient.
The MTA is less than thrilled about this -- if everyone knows which are the best cars to get on, they're going to get on those cars and crowd them.
By now, I hope you've seen the video of American snowboarder Sage Kotsenburg's massive final jump in the Olympic slopestyle event -- the Holy Crail, as he calls it: a 1620 (that's four and a half revolutions) Japan air that won him the first U.S. gold of the Sochi games. (We'd post the video here, but NBC and the International Olympic Committee would sue us into oblivion. So if you haven't seen it, you'll have to click here, and subject yourself to 10 minutes of sappy advertising. It's almost worth it.)
Kotsenburg hails from Park City, Utah, home of the U.S. Ski Team and an epicenter of elite winter sports training. Fellow Olympians who also grew up or live in Park City include alpine skiers Ted Ligety, Steven Nyman, and Megan McJames, bobsledder Steven Holcomb, ski jumpers Sarah Hendrickson, Jessica Jerome, and Anders Johnson, cross-country skiers Liz Stephen and Billy Demong, freeskier Joss Christensen, freestyle skier Heather McPhie, snowboarder Lindsay Jacobellis, and speed skater Maria Lamb. Many other Olympic athletes train in Park City at facilities built for the 2002 winter games, including the ski jumps and bobsled and luge runs at Bear Hollow, and at the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association’s Center of Excellence, designed to be an incubator for elite athletes.
Utah is gunning for another winter in the Olympic spotlight, in fact: In December, state officials announced their bid to host the 2026 games. But the Beehive State had better act quickly. If climate models are correct, winter won't be coming here for long. Among the Rocky Mountain ski hotspots, it turns out that Park City is among the hottest -- and I don't mean that in a good way.