Linda Poon is a staff writer at CityLab covering science and urban technology, including smart cities and climate change. She previously covered global health and development for NPR’s Goats and Soda blog.
A roundup of the best stories on cities and urbanism we've come across in the last seven days.
A round-up of the best stories on cities and urbanism we've come across in the last seven days. Tweet us your favorites with #CityReads.
“How Amazon Swallowed Seattle,” CML, Gawker
Seattle is dead and Amazon killed it.
The recent news around Amazon has focused on the company as a workplace. Much of it has been unflattering, all of it is accurate. But a more comprehensive indictment of Amazon would also describe its effect on the rest of Seattle, which used to be a great place to live. In recent years, it has become consumed by Amazon.
I was born here, in 1988. My city was a gentle, easygoing place, a salad of cultural influences: citizens of the outdoors, of grunge and high art, with a dash of software among its bluebloods. Here I reveled in mild weather and glorious views; here I played in the best high-school orchestra in the nation (at a public school), and surrounded myself with brilliant people who understood me and made me better.
Nowhere else was life so good.
“Tracing 350 Years of Harlem's Ever-Shifting Boundaries,” Keith Williams, Curbed
Ask a handful New Yorkers to define the southern boundary of Harlem and you'll likely get a few different responses. The most popular, in my unscientific experience, is 96th Street east of Central Park and 110th Street elsewhere. A few old-timers will claim it used to dive down to 96th Street on the West Side, and other people contend that the presence of Columbia University disqualifies Morningside Heights from consideration. In recent years, development east of Central Park and north of 96th Street has caused some to question whether that area should now be considered part of the Upper East Side. I've never heard anyone, however, claim that the Harlem of today matches its original boundaries; when it was officially chartered in 1660, its southern border stretched from today's 129th Street on the Hudson to 74th Street on the East River.
“Where Is the World’s Most Remote City?” Nicholas Gill, The Guardian
Other than a 65-mile, dead-end stretch to the town of Nauta, there are no roads leading in or out of the Amazonian city of Iquitos, Peru. While its small airport has direct flights to Lima, most goods are shipped in or out by river. The shortest distance would be upriver to Yurimaguas, a roughly 4-day journey that still requires a drive over the Andes Mountains. For larger ocean-going vessels, it’s a long journey. The mouth of the Amazon, where the river meets the Atlantic, is more than 2,300 miles away.
“I can get in my canoe and after a few minutes of paddling I’m in Pacaya Samiria, a nature reserve,” says artist Mariem Valdez Torero, who lives on a floating house docked on the Itaya River near Iquitos’ malecón (jetty). “The colourful landscape is reflected on the water. The sound of the birds replaces the noise of the streets and I forget all about the sounds of the moto-taxis.”
“An Old Folks Home in San Francisco Has Some New Residents: Young Techies,” William Alden, Buzzfeed
Some luxury apartment buildings in San Francisco lure young tech workers with perks like housekeeping, dry cleaning, and concierge services. But at one newly renovated building in the city’s Mission neighborhood, techie tenants are instead encountering amenities like a free blood pressure screening and an educational workshop on arthritis.
That’s because the building, in addition to housing some fresh young faces, is also a government-subsidized senior community, where most of the residents are elderly retirees.
For several years now, with the San Francisco real estate market reaching stomach-turning heights, developers have been finding new ways to cash in on surging demand. Gleaming high-rises in the South of Market and mid-Market areas, featuring pricey apartments within longboarding distance of many tech companies, have helped push the median monthly rent for a studio apartment in the city to $2,722 as of June, according to Pricenomics.
“When a Washington Fire Chief Called for Help, No One Was Left,” Matt Pearce, Los Angeles Times
As the flames drew closer, the fire chief called and called for help. But three other major wildfires were burning in Stevens County, Wash., and no one was left to respond.
Whipped by 40- to 50-mph winds, the new blaze on the Spokane Reservation sent up a column of smoke as it churned north toward a rural community of about 2,000 people east of the Columbia River.
The only thing that stood in the way: Stevens County Fire District 2 Chief Rick Anderson and his small crew of volunteers.