Ethiopia is due to launch a light rail transit system later this year, the first of its kind in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Global news with a spatial perspective: Interesting, current supplemental materials for geography teachers and students.
Curated by Seth Dixon
Ethiopia is due to launch a light rail transit system later this year, the first of its kind in Sub-Saharan Africa.
How vacant houses trace the boundaries of Baltimore's black neighborhoods.
The map on the left shows one very tiny dot for each person living in Baltimore. White people are blue dots, blacks are green, Asians are red and Hispanics yellow.The map on the right shows the locations of Baltimore City's 15,928 vacant buildings. Slide between the two maps and you'll immediately notice that the wedge of white Baltimore, jutting down from the Northwest to the city center, is largely free of vacant buildings. But in the black neighborhoods on either side, empty buildings are endemic.
"To get to the bottom of what qualifies as 'badly designed,' we picked the brains of several urban planners to highlight the flaws of some of the world's biggest cities. In the end, that birthed a list of nine cities that, for various reasons, are gigantic messes in some way or another."
On the list: Jakarta, Dubai, Atlanta, Naypyidaw, São Paulo, Boston, Brasilia, Missoula and Dhaka.
"OTR A.D.O.P.T. transfers abandoned buildings to qualified new owners at reduced cost. The catch? You must commit to rehabilitating the property and returning it to productive use. You must also demonstrate an ability to successfully complete such a project. A.D.O.P.T.-Advancing Derelict and Obsolete Properties Through Transfer."
This banner was spotted by Laura Spess, an urban geographer in Cincinnati in during the 2014 APHG reading. The Over-The-Rhine neighborhood is very close to the reading, and the urban renewal here is quite controversial. Many point to the economic positives and infusion of investments, while other see social displacement of the poor. After the reading we were discussing the messages embedded the sign (and the urban landscape). The OTR ADOPT organization conceptually thought of poorer neighborhoods as orphans and that the gentrification process should be likened to adoption. While the merits and problems of gentrification can be debated, I find that particular analogy painfully tone deaf and wasn't surprised to find the organizations website, well, derelict and obsolete.
Questions to Ponder: Why might this analogy be problematic? How might current residents of the community feel about the message?
Not everyone is a fan of Paris, but the author of this article feels that tourism can be seen as helpful proxy variable for what the general public perceives as good urbanism that makes for beautiful cities. The six main points of this article are:
The teeming, maddening, and indescribably charming city of Cairo has served as Egypt's capital for 1,000 years. When it emerged it was perhaps the most important cultural center in the Arab world.
But the city's days as Egypt's capital could be numbered. On Friday, the Egyptian government announced that the country will build a new capital from scratch, carving out a piece of the desert between Cairo and the Suez Canal. The project, which is being dubbed "the Capital Cairo," is slated to cost an estimated $45 billion and host Egypt's sprawling government bureaucracy, universities, tourism facilities, hospitals, and a new international airport.
The Egyptian government has announced plans to replace Cairo as the capital city with a new city built to its east--this article argues that the money would be better spent elsewhere. This is a good case-study to use when discussing forward capitals, but I think that Egyptian officials need to seriously consider the example of the manufactured capital city of Naypyidaw in Burma before building this forward capital.
There are many videos online showing the Maeklong Railway Market, but I'll share just a few. Clearly the 8 times a day runs like clockwork for the vendors, but as this other video shows, the 8 times a day that the trains go through the market an it becomes a tourist attraction. Locally it's called "Ta-Lad-Rom-Hoob," which means The Furled Umbrella Market. My students are usually quite shocked to see how this city market in Thailand operates and this video is a usefully 'hook' for lesson on population growth, urbanization, economic development, sustainability, megacities and city planning.
Questions to Ponder: Why does this system work in Thailand, but is inconceivable for the United States? How many spaces are single use spaces that remain empty most of the day? How does the both the train line and the market need to accommodate the other?
"Defensive architecture is revealing on a number of levels, because it is not the product of accident or thoughtlessness, but a thought process. It is a sort of unkindness that is considered, designed, approved, funded and made real with the explicit motive to exclude and harass. It reveals how corporate hygiene has overridden human considerations…"
Geography explores more than just what countries control a certain territory and what landforms are there. Geography explores the spatial manifestations of power and how place is crafted to fit a particular vision. Homeless people are essentially always 'out of place.' These articles from the Society Pages, the Atlantic and this one from the Guardian share similar things: that urban planners actively design places that will discourage loitering which is undesirable to local businesses. This gallery shows various defensive architectural tactics to make certain people feel 'out of place.' Just to show that not all urban designs are anti-homeless, this bench is one that is designed to help the homeless (and here is an ingenious plan to curb public urination).
"In Highland Park, as in other Latino barrios of Los Angeles, gentrification has produced an undeniable but little appreciated side effect: the end of decades of de facto racial segregation. It's possible to imagine a future in which 'the hood' passes into memory. Racial integration is on the upswing. For all the fortitude and pride you'll find in Latino barrios, no one wants to live in a racially segregated community or attend a racially segregated school."
Visitors to Naypyidaw are routinely shocked to see how empty this city is and often refer to it as a ghost town. The capital of Burma moved to Naypyidaw in 2005, away from the busy streets of Rangoon. However, building the city, does not automatically bring the people, jobs, and economic networks that make a bustling city bustle.
In the 19th century, London was the capital of the largest empire the world had ever known — and it was infamously filthy. It had choking, sooty fogs; the Thames River was thick with human sewage; and the streets were covered with mud. But according to Lee Jackson, author of Dirty Old London: The Victorian Fight Against Filth, mud was actually a euphemism. 'It was essentially composed of horse dung,' he tells Fresh Air's Sam Briger. 'There were tens of thousands of working horses in London [with] inevitable consequences for the streets. And the Victorians never really found an effective way of removing that, unfortunately.'"
History gets sanitized, and the we forget some of the more unpleasant parts of past geographies. Victorian London was filthy, but this isn't just a problem of the past as it remains an urban and developmental issue. The NY Times just reported on how the sewage system is clogged with wet wipes say aren't as 'flushable' as advertized. These are the negative externalities of urbanization. This map of San Francisco shows the spatial and social inequalities of public restrooms and other public amenities for the homeless. India is the country with the most people without adequate access to sanitary waste disposal and that is a massive impediment to their progress. Public urination is also health/gender issue and the city of Hamburg is fighting back with a technological deterrent to public urination (actually quite entertaining). And if you want the "news of the weird" version of this story on the geography of human waste...well, here you go (you were warned).
"Nicknames are important branding strategies used by civic boosters, and Chicago’s namesakes are frequently employed to market the city and its surrounding region as 'The Jewel of the Midwest' and 'Heart of America.' At the same time, urban monikers can arise from the wider public and they have sometimes been used to draw attention to negative qualities of Chicago life."
Is it Londonderry or just Derry? Xinjiang or Eastern Turkestan? The Sea of Japan or the East Sea? Persian Gulf or Arabian Gulf? Names and nicknames have political and cultural overtones that can be very important. As the author of this AAG article on the Chicago's nickname, Chiraq says, "city nicknames are more than a gimmick; they can define geographies of violence, marginalization, and resistance."
A new report tracks demographic trends across 66 U.S. metro areas. The report provides comprehensive evidence for Aaron Renn's "new donut" model of cities (pictured in above image, on the right). Renn's model proposes that city centers and outer-ring suburbs are doing well economically, but inner-ring suburbs are struggling with a new influx of poverty."
The need for speed devours huge chunks of American cities and leaves the edges of the expressways worthless. Busy streets, for almost all of human history, created the greatest real estate value because they delivered customers and clients to the businesses operating there. This in turn cultivated the highest tax revenues in town, both from higher property taxes and from elevated sales taxes. But you can't set up shop on the side of an expressway. How can cities afford to spend so much to create thoroughfares with no adjoining property value?
Stunning images taken from space put the world's crises into context.
U.N. satellite imagery has tracked the evolution of the camp since its creation. The exponential growth is remarkable. The refugee camp is rapidly taking the shape of a real city — structured, planned and even separated into neighborhoods and subject to gentrification.
Mark Twain declared that the Indian city of Varanasi was older than history, tradition and legend. He was, of course, wrong. So which exactly is the world’s most ancient continuously inhabited city?
This is a nice article that, on the surface, discusses which is the oldest city among competing claims. However, it also serves as an entry point to explore the history of urbanization in the ancient world and the requirements for the earliest permanent settlements.
Austin's Mueller neighborhood is a new-urbanist dream, designed to be convivial, walkable and energy-efficient. Every house has a porch or stoop, and all the cars are hidden away.
After moving here, respondents said, they spend an average of 90 fewer minutes a week in the car, and most reported higher levels of physical activity. The poll results seem to validate new-urbanist gospel: good design, like sidewalks, street lighting, extensive trails and parkland, can improve social and physical health. Part II: A Texas Community Takes on Racial Tensions Once Hidden Under The Surface.
This video is geared for photographers, demonstrating the technical abilities of camera, but the images of the varied housing types and skylines of Rio de Janeiro are stunning. To appreciate the favelas and Sugarloaf Mountains more fully, maximize the display and watch on the largest screen possible.
|Suggested by Mike Busarello's Digital Storybooks|
I'm a sucker for online quizzes like this one only showing only the transit system of the cities. This isn't just about knowing a city, but also identifying regional and urban patterns. If you want quizzes with more direct applicability in the classroom, click here for online regional quizzes.
"Walk along the streets of London and it’s not uncommon to hear a variety of langauges jostling for space in your eardrums. Step inside a tube carriage on the underground and the story is no different.
Oliver O’Brien, researcher in geovisualisation and web mapping at University College London’s department of geography, has created a map showing what the most common second language (after English) is at certain tube stops across the capital.
Using a map of tube journeys and busy stations that he had previously created, O’Brien used 2011 Census data to add the second most commonly spoken language that people who live nearby speak."
This map is an excellent way to introduce the concept of ethnic neighborhoods and show how they spatially form and what ties them together. This other article shows how the spatial arrangement of London's population has changed from 1939 to today.
Several hundred million more people are expected to move to cities in East Asia over the next 20 years as economies shift from agriculture to manufacturing and services, according to a World Bank report
Cities in this region have experienced spectacular growth; they are at the heart of China's manufacturing and exporting boom. For example, Shenzen was a small city with about 10,000 residents in 1980 but is now a megacity with over 10 million people. China's SEZs (Special Economic Zones). Cities that were once separate entities have coalesced into a large conurbation and if they are counted as one, it's now the largest metropolitan area. Cities like London and New York become global cities over hundreds of years--this happened in one generation. Click here for 5 infographics showing East Asia's massive urban growth.
Drexel University is taking a hands-on approach to redeveloping one of Philadelphia's poorest neighborhoods with a new center designed to serve not just students but mainly local residents.
This NPR podcast shows a good example of an urban revitalization project that is actively trying to avoid following the gentrification path. Growing colleges can unintentionally displace longtime residents, but this project is about preserving the cultural fabric of the neighborhood and building good will in the community.
"This is a film by the Chicago Board Of Education, produced sometime in the 1940s. This film could have been geared towards tourism or to entice companies to come to Chicago or used in the classroom. The great thing about this film reel, is all the different views of the city they give."
In James Howard Kunstler's view, public spaces should be inspired centers of civic life and the physical manifestation of the common good. Instead, he argues, what we have in America is a nation of places not worth caring about.
Kunstler passionately argues that American architecture and urban planning are not creating public places that encourage interaction and communal engagement. We should create more distinct places that foster a sense of place that is 'worth fighting for,' as opposed to suburbia which he sees as emblematic of these problems.
Question to Ponder: How should we design cities to create a strong sense of place? What elements are necessary? Warning: He uses some strong language.