Tag Archives: CityLab

The Quiet Rise of the Downtown Tech Campus

Last week, it was revealed that Google will buy the Chelsea Market building in Manhattan, across the street from its main offices in the old Port Authority building, for as much as $2.5 billion. The mind-boggling sales price would make this the second-most expensive real estate deal in New York City history, and it demonstrates the lengths to which Google is willing to go to consolidate its burgeoning presence in Chelsea.

The move is also indicative of a far wider trend: While all eyes have been trained on Amazon’s salacious HQ2 search, Google and its peers have been quietly transforming many urban neighborhoods into de-facto tech campuses.

When the Chelsea Market deal goes through, Google will own or lease approximately 4.6 million square feet in … Read the rest

The Real Cause of the Opioid Crisis

America’s devastating opioid epidemic is one of the biggest problems the country faces. More than 2.5 million Americans are currently addicted to powerful opioids. Drug deaths have shot up since 2010, rising some 28 percent in just the past year, with nearly 175 Americans losing their lives to opioids everyday.

One persistent narrative, backed by a good deal of expert opinion, is that the epidemic is an outgrowth of deepening economic and geographic inequality, with “deaths of despair” brought on by the lack of high-paying, family-supporting jobs for working- and middle-class Americans, who then turn to drugs to cope with the pain and distress of economic dislocation.

A recent NBER study provides new evidence that lagging economic conditions are not the primary explanation. The working paper, … Read the rest

Paris Plans a Suburban Forest Five Times the Size of Central Park

With its car bans, huge transit expansion, and radical pedestrianization plans, Paris has been developing quite a name for itself recently as an aggressive fighter against urban air pollution. For its next major assault on bad air, however, the metro area is proposing to deploy an ancient weapon: trees. In fact, it would be using one million of them.

These trees would be planted as part of what could yet be this century’s grandest urban and suburban re-greening projects: the creation of a new forest north of the city limits that, at its final 1,350 hectare (5.2 square mile) extent, will be five times the size of New York’s Central Park.

The plan to plant a new forest on the plain at Pierrelaye-BessancourtRead the rest

Where an HQ2 Could Most Help Me Find a Boyfriend

After reporting on the Amazon bidding war for several months, I think I have finally determined the perfect region in which to locate an HQ2, for me, a single girl in Washington, D.C., specifically: Washington, D.C.

Okay, hear me out for a second. I know all the shortlist options are, like, special in their own ways, and believe me, I know there are issues with the whole Amazon HQ2 situation writ large. Bidding wars hurt cities, and an Amazon HQ2 in D.C. would probably wreak more than a bit of economic and infrastructural havoc. (Read CityLab. We cover that.)

But as Valentine’s Day nears, I couldn’t help but wonder…would the hunt for Amazon HQ2 also help me find a boyfriend?​

​Jeff, just HUMOR ME, … Read the rest

A New State Preemption Battlefield: Dockless Bikesharing

Last July, bright green bikes from the dockless bikeshare company LimeBike started appearing in Miami Beach. It wasn’t immediately clear if the company was trying to quietly launch their system, or if people were just riding the bikes the 15 miles from Key Biscayne, where LimeBike had legally set up shop.

Miami Beach officials deemed them “unauthorized” and responded with $1,000 fines for the company and threats to impound the bikes. A LimeBike spokesperson says it was a misunderstanding caused by Key Biscayne users bringing bikes to Miami Beach; the issue was resolved after they came and collected their stray bikes.

The situation was demonstrative of the typical give-and-take between municipalities as this polarizing new mobility mode emerges and individual communities decide whether or not to … Read the rest

Rediscovered: 250 Missing Feet of the Berlin Wall

This week the Berlin media unveiled a sensational discovery: a largely intact 80 meter (262 feet) section of the Berlin Wall that everyone assumed had been demolished. Battered but still standing, this section of the wall remains in its original location in the quiet northern Berlin suburb of Schönholz. It had actually been rediscovered by local historian Christian Bormann as far back as 1999—but he’s kept it a secret since then. Bormann only chose to bring it to public notice this week (via his personal blog and contact with local officials) after growing concerned that its dilapidated condition placed it in peril of collapse.

That such a remnant could go unnoticed even in a backwater seems incredible. This was once one of Europe’s most heavily, … Read the rest

The 7 Stages of Amazon HQ2 Grief

On Thursday, Amazon published a shortlist of 20 finalists for its much-desired second headquarters. In Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Los Angeles, Toronto, and the 16 other (fairly unsurprising) cities that made the cut, mayors and economic development organizations jumped for joy.

But in 218 other cities, it was a hard day; boosters of these left-behind towns experienced the full spectrum of grief, from shock and denial to acceptance and hope. We have documented their mourning process below.

“Thank you to all 238 communities that submitted proposals. Getting from 238 to 20 was very tough—all the proposals showed tremendous enthusiasm and creativity. Through this process we learned about many new communities across North America that we will consider as locations for future infrastructure investment and job creation.”  

—Holly … Read the rest

The Safe Way to Ride Your Bike in Winter

Even for many dedicated bike commuters, cycling in the worst parts of winter can be a step too far. For those of us who approach any physical activity with mixed emotions, the sight of snow on the ground is a perfect excuse to find any other way to get around. But still, in cities where cycling is common, bike lanes stay busy even when the snow is piling up.

Witness, for example, this image of commuters pedaling their way across a bridge in Copenhagen:

Read the rest

Who Owns Urban Mobility Data?

How, exactly, should policymakers respond to the rapid rise of new private mobility services such as ride-hailing, dockless shared bicycles, and microtransit? As I argued here several months ago, in order to answer that question city leaders will need accurate and detailed information about all urban trips—however the traveler chose to get from one place to another. And that information needs to come in part from the private mobility companies that are moving a growing share of people within our cities.  

In 2017, these services had a tumultuous year. Apocalyptic images of discarded dockless bikes in China left American officials that are experimenting with this model for bikesharing scrambling to ensure their cities avoid the same fate. Meanwhile, Uber’s admission that it paid a $100,000 ransom Read the rest

Bangkok’s Street Vendors Are Not the Enemies of Public Space

For a moment, it seemed like Bangkok was going to lose the very street food culture that’s defined the city for decades. Local newspaper The Nation reported last Tuesday that the city was planning to ban food stalls in all 50 of its districts as part of an effort to “clean up” the streets and “return the pavements to the pedestrians.” All would disappear by end of this year—the sweet and sticky aroma of coconut (a staple Thai ingredient), the sizzle of noodles hitting the wok as vendors fire up an order of pad thai, and the chaotic charm that draws some 20 to 30 million international tourists to the city each year.

After a public outcry, garnering media attention across the globe, Thailand’s chief of … Read the rest