Our weekly roundup of the most intriguing articles about cities and urbanism we've come across in the past seven days. Share your favorites on Twitter with #cityreads.
"Subway Deaths Haunt Those at Trains’ Controls," Matt Flegenheimer, New York Times
In the last month, the cases of two men who were pushed to their deaths on the tracks have focused attention on the subway system’s most harrowing outcome. But for the men and women who operate New York City’s trains, these episodes represent an occasion to induct two new people to a grim fraternity with hundreds of members. With dozens of people jumping and falling to their deaths on the tracks every year, any of the five million passengers who ride the city’s subway every day can reasonably expect to be driven by someone who has seen, heard or even felt someone perish right in front of them.
My friend, Youngstown celebrity Phil Kidd, told me a hahafunny recently. After consistently being ranked as one of the poorest cities in the country, Youngstown has recently seen a small reversal of fortunes in its downtown. A handful of new bars, some housing development, and voila–old-school Youngstowners are now complaining about “gentrification.”
I have a message for these people: Stop it!
"In Suburbs of L.A., a Ccottage Industry of Birth Tourism," Cindy Chang, Las Angeles Times
USA Baby Care is one of scores, possibly hundreds, of companies operating so-called maternity hotels tucked away in residential neighborhoods in the San Gabriel Valley, Orange County and other Southern California suburbs. Pregnant women from Chinese-speaking countries pay as much as $20,000 to stay in the facilities during the final months of pregnancy, then spend an additional month recuperating and awaiting the new baby's U.S. passport.
"Lower Manhattan Rebuilds Again, Until the Next Time," Dana Rubenstein, Capital New York
When serious questions are asked about residential waterfront communities in New Jersey, Staten Island and the south shores of Long Island, lower Manhattan is rarely mentioned. And while the big landlords interviewed by Capital expressed interest in measures they or the city might take to protect the neighborhood from the next superstorm, in the meantime almost everyone seems to be rebuilding pretty much what was there before.
"From Miami-Dade To Broward, The Case For Being Mindful When Renaming Counties," Daniel Rivero, WLKN
Amid chatter that Broward County is considering changing its name to reflect the county’s biggest city-- Fort Lauderdale-- this all got me thinking about the names that we give to our counties in South Florida.
As time goes forward, the histories of the place names that we know become obscured. After some amount of time they take a life of their own as names become places, and we scarcely think of the individual.
Yet, if you dig beneath the surface, you will find that the place names that surround us tell the hidden, and often ugly, stories of our place in the world. Winston Churchill once said, “History is written by the victors,” and he was right. But while the victor often renames the place he has conquered, as time passes on, these place names can often tell their own stories -- and they just might tell a more troubling narrative than could have been imagined.
"If Avis Is Smart, It Won't Stop With Zipcar," Lydia Depillis, The New Republic
Zipcar isn't really on the cutting edge of disruption anymore. It's already created a world in which car rentals distributed through cities are just a feature that every company has to offer. Hertz, Enterprise, and Daimler have all rolled out some form of the concept within the past couple years, making competition a game of who can spread their network fastest and provide the best customer experience (Daimler’s Car2Go has done them all one better by introducing the ability to drop off the cars nearly anywhere in the city, rather than returning them to their original locations).