Next City


Are L.A.'s Transit Plans Too Big for Eric Garcetti?

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November 4, 2013
A New Mayor Inherits the Ambitious Task of Kicking a City’s Car Habit

Here are a few things you probably think you know about Los Angeles: It is a freeway-riddled, car-dependent traffic jam where nobody walks past their driveway. This is the cartoon version of L.A., a cheap shorthand of stereotypes and decades-old perceptions that the city has struggled to shake.

L.A. Confidential

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March 4, 2013
How a City Got Its River Back

There was something both amusing and disheartening to George Wolfe about the fact that the Los Angeles River was not, according to the federal government, technically a river. As the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers saw it, the L.A. River was “non-navigable,” meaning the waterway would never float a boat or host swimmers. This meant that it didn’t have to be kept clean like a “real” river, and would be held to a lower standard of environmental protection.

The Port of the Future Is Arriving in Los Angeles

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October 27, 2014
Is Fighting Climate Change the Next Maritime Industry?

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the first and second busiest ports in the U.S., are a jigsawed infrascape of water channels and shipping terminals, a skyline built of cranes and steel containers. Together the neighboring ports cover more than 7,500 acres of land – about 12 square miles – and at least that much water. The metropolis of L.A. and Orange County and greater Southern California fans out around the ports, the grand industrial gash in the coastline, endlessly swallowing up and spitting out the commercial goods of the global economy.

Chili Dogs at the Opera and Other Signs Your City Is Doing Culture Right

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September 15, 2014
How to Keep Arts Institutions Alive in the YouTube Era

There was a sell-out crowd at the San Diego Opera’s April 13th matinee of “Don Quixote,” its season closer. Normally a sign of a healthy arts organization, this sell-out was actually a sign of just how dire things had become. Almost like a crowd at a funeral procession, ticket-buyers filled up the 2,877-seat San Diego Civic Theatre to pay their last respects to what was, at that time, a historic institution on the verge of dissolution.

Germany’s Designer City

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December 16, 2013
Can Government Build Hamburg’s Next Hot Neighborhood?

On the brick wall of a building beside the River Elbe in Hamburg, Germany, a small brass plaque reads “1962.” Above that is a horizontal line, and above that is the word FLUT. The line, about four feet off the ground, is the high-water mark of a flood that overwhelmed defenses and inundated about a fifth of the city, killing 315. It was the worst, though hardly the only, flood in Hamburg’s 1,200-year history.

Toward a Common Language of Cities

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July 9, 2013
The cities of the world have a communication problem, and Richard Saul Wurman wants to solve it.

“They don’t collect their information the same way. They don’t describe themselves with the same legend,” says Wurman, an architect, graphic designer and founder of the TED conferences. “One city might have five different patterns of industrial types of land use and another might have one. One city might call an airport ‘transportation’ and another might call it ‘commercial.’ They call everything by different names.”

It’s the equivalent, he says, of two people speaking two different languages and trying to have one conversation.

20th-Century Land Use Policy Nearly Killed the Salton Sea. Could Today's Urban Policy Save It?

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May 9, 2013
The Salton Sea, Southern California’s accidental oasis-turned-environmental tragedy, is the kind of disaster for which 20th-century U.S. policymakers only have themselves to thank.

Sitting 150 miles east of Los Angeles in the dry and hot Sonoran Desert, the Salton Sea is a 375-square-mile accident of nature, industry and real estate. It’s the largest inland body of water in California, but it’s saltier than the ocean, and the diversity of fish and wildlife it can support is diminishing. And below the surface is a seabed of contaminated soil that, once dried, turns to a toxic dust that is already posing public health risks.

Oh, and the sea is evaporating rapidly, which means more toxic dust being released into the air.