The Atlantic Cities


The Future of Intelligent Parking

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March 23, 2012
Technology is changing the ways cities and drivers park their cars.

They're in the ground all over the country, in parking lots and city streets. They're small and unobtrusive little guys, like small discs flat on the ground or the reflector bumps like you might drive over when crossing lanes. These are simple devices with a straightforward task, and they're about to have a huge impact on the way drivers in U.S. cities park, just by knowing when cars are parked over them and when they're not.

Los Angeles Seeks Pedestrians

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March 5, 2012
L.A. converts a street into a public park.

The automobile is undoubtedly the dominant mode of travel in Los Angeles. But to write off the city as made up entirely of car-driving, bumper-to-bumper rush hour commuters is clearly an over-generalization. A growing group of Angelenos is finding ways to make transit, cycling, and walking (and, often, a combination thereof) relevant and viable in their daily lives.

Why China's Urbanization Isn't Creating a Middle Class

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February 29, 2012
China's hukou system is holding it back from creating a middle class.

The rapid rate of development in China manifests itself most clearly in its cities. With some populations rising into the tens of millions, China’s cities are the economic powerhouses of the country, and are helping to create a whole new era of financial prosperity. For some observers, this translates into 1.3 billion people who now have the money to afford the sort of commercial goods many of the country’s factories had previously been producing for the affluent populations of other countries.

British Columbia's Second City

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February 16, 2012
Surrey, B.C., is redeveloping its way to becoming a major urban force in Canada.

Once rightfully thought of as a bedroom community of Vancouver, Surrey, in British Columbia, has steadily climbed its way into the world of cityness. It’s now the 12th largest city in Canada, and the second largest in B.C., but both of those rankings are likely to be short-lived. The city is expected to keep growing and is likely to overtake Vancouver as the province’s most populous city within the next 10 or 15 years, becoming one of the top ten in Canada. Considering the pace it's growing now, it could happen even sooner.

The Struggle to Define L.A.'s Transitional Moment

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January 5, 2012
A year of reading about Los Angeles with LA Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne.

Last January, Los Angeles Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne kicked off a year-long project to explore his city through its literature. He picked 24 – plus three more reader suggestions – of the “most significant books on Southern California architecture and urbanism.” The Reading L.A. project covers the city's growth, development, design, infrastructure and culture, including well-known titles like Reyner Banham’s 1971 Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies, as well as less prominent books like David Brodsly’s 1981 L.A Freeway: An Appreciative Essay.

Interpreting the World Through the Lens of Tintin

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December 23, 2011
A researcher retraces the steps of Tintin around the world.

In comic books created over the course of six decades, a young Belgian reporter named Tintin travels the world, embroiling himself in investigations and adventures. From Soviet Russia to Egypt to China, Tintin’s adventures took him to many exotic locales and into sticky situations with people of countless cultures. The comic has been translated into about 60 languages, and is now a major motion picture by Steven Spielberg, out in U.S. theaters this week.

The Social Media Avalanche and the Mayoral Communications Office

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December 21, 2011
Facing feedback on multiple public platforms, city officials are trying to figure out how to respond to the good and bad.

Oakland, Calif., Mayor Jean Quan had been getting an earful. And an email inboxful. And a Facebook wallful. Her leadership in the handling of the city’s Occupy protesters had gathered international attention, as the encampment was torn down and clashes between protesters and police had left many injured – including the much publicized skull fracture of an Iraq War veteran.

L.A.'s Bike Lane Blues

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December 14, 2011
The city's new green bike lane has hit costly speedbumps.

The city of Los Angeles recently followed the lead of cities like San Francisco and New York by altering two of its streets and adding new bike lanes, part of a pilot program that included painting the entire width of the lanes bright green. These new lanes have been welcomed by the bicycle community and by ribbon-cutting local politicians as a bold green sign of the city’s efforts to become a safer and friendlier place to bike.

Gigabit Cops

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November 22, 2011
How citywide fiber optic internet is changing policing in Chattanooga.

One day, a group of officials in Chattanooga, Tennessee, got an idea. They were going to go down to the Tennessee riverfront and count ducks. Depending on your interest in ducks, this could be interpreted as a wasteful venture. But for Chattanooga, it was a crucial test of a growing set of tools that are dramatically changing operations and public safety in the city.

The Occupy Movement and the New Public Space

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November 22, 2011
The Occupy Movement offers a lens through which to view a new kind of public space.

Governments are trying to figure out what to do with the Occupy movement that’s moved into public spaces in major cities all over the world. Some have figured out only as much as getting them out of there; mayors from Oakland to New York have evoked concerns about public safety, sanitation, and good old law and order to justify forced evictions of campsites. And as we saw with the recent pepper spraying incident at UC Davis, the clash between the users of public space and the stewards of public space has underscored a startling disconnect.