The Atlantic Cities


'New York is Not a City of Alleys': A Film Location Scout's Pet Peeves

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November 18, 2011
How a film scout sees the city.

Since 2004, Nick Carr has been working as a film location scout in New York City. He travels throughout the city to find rooms and settings and unique places to film scenes in movies and television shows, and he’s been documenting some of this work and his experiences on his website, ScoutingNY. He highlights interesting parts of the city, areas that have been used (and over-used) in film, and some of the ways the built environment of the city has changed over time.

Transforming Blight Into a Destination

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November 14, 2011
A look at the increasing role of "lansdscape infrastructure" in cities.

Alleyways. Drainage canals. Electricity transmission corridors. Spaces like these exist in cities all over the world, and almost always they are only exactly what they seem: alleyways, drainage canals, electricity transmission corridors. But in a physical sense, they offer many more opportunities. That alley could be a stormwater absorption area. A drainage canal could become a waterfront. A transmission corridor could become a linear park.

The Map Geeks Behind 'Bostonography'

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November 11, 2011
Cartographers are re-mapping the city of Boston in creative ways.

In this age of Google Maps and GPS in cell phones, hasn’t everything already been mapped?

“It’s probably the most common question a cartographer gets,” says Tim Wallace, who’s finishing his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin, Madison’s cartography program. “Yeah, spatially, most of the world, above water anyway, has been surveyed. But certainly not every phenomenon has been mapped.”

For cartographers, Wallace says, this concept is an edifying thought, and one that can provide countless opportunities to interpret places.

John King on Watching a City Change Through its Buildings

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November 9, 2011
The San Francisco Chronicle's urban design critic takes a close look at the city's most notable buildings.

Buildings are arguably the most important ingredients of a city. But they alone don’t make a city what it is. History, context, and most importantly the changes brought by time are what shapes a city. Its buildings, though, reflect these changes.

Making Local Government Funny in 'Parks and Recreation'

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October 28, 2011
A Q&A with 'Parks and Recreation' producer/writer Dan Goor.

Local government agencies might not seem like the most interesting topic for television, but NBC’s Parks and Recreation, now in its fourth season, has found a way. Set in the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana, the show depicts a group of public officials and their interactions with the intricacies of local government.

Co-executive producer and writer Dan Goor talked with me about why city government works well as the basis for a TV show, the real-life public hearings that have inspired the writers, and the comedy of bureaucracy. Oh, and also gay penguins.

A Regional Vision for the Great Lakes

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October 14, 2011
Creating a 100-year plan for the Great Lakes region.

There’s a shirt you’ll see people wearing every once in a while in Detroit, or Chicago, or Milwaukee. It’s a local pride sort of thing, but less touristy than those “I Heart NY” shirts and not quite as macho as “Don’t Mess with Texas." It’s simple and speaks more directly to Detroit and Chicago and Milwaukee and all their neighbors. It’s just the outline of the Great Lakes. No cities, no states, no nations, no borders. Just the lakes.

L.A.'s Citywide Block Party

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October 7, 2011
How Los Angeles shut down miles of streets and got flooded with bikes.

Ten miles of street might not seem like a lot in sprawling, spreading Los Angeles. But temporarily closing those 10 miles to car traffic – a seemingly sacrilegious idea in car-dependent L.A. – is creating a disproportionately large and, frankly, positive impact in the city.

'Helvetica' Director Gary Hustwit Takes on City Design with 'Urbanized'

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September 23, 2011
Documentary filmmaker Gary Hustwit explores urban design in his new film.

Urbanized, the new documentary from director Gary Hustwit, is a globe-trotting, project-touring, expert-filled survey of city design and modern urbanity. From Mumbai to Copenhagen to Beijing to New York, the film documents the forces and people that shape the world’s cities in a global tour that nicely balances both the challenges and prospects of urbanization.

Defining Cities in a Metropolitan World

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September 15, 2011
Eight different ways to measure and think about what makes a city.

Most often when you cross the borders of a city or town, nothing much happens. Those edges, invisible lines of jurisdictional separation, are easily ignored or forgotten as we walk, bike, and drive through a metro area. Cities can blend into one another almost imperceptibly. Development just keeps going and going in many parts of the U.S., creating urbanized entities much grander than a single city. When we think about cities, it’s increasingly inaccurate to think about them in isolation.