Tanvi Misra is a staff writer for CityLab covering immigrant communities, housing, economic inequality, and culture. She also authors Navigator, a weekly newsletter for urban explorers (subscribe here). Her work also appears in The Atlantic, NPR, and BBC.
Our Friday newsletter with stories and adventures for urban explorers. With a new writer and soon, a new platform.
In June, I wrote what was essentially an ode to the building where I rented the first “room of my own.” In this massive D.C. apartment complex—the largest under one roof in the city!—worlds collided. The mix of different ethnicities, genders, classes, and ages may not have meant true integration, but I still saw it as something rare, and of value, in a fast-homogenizing city.
This week, I moved out.
Transitions can be hard, but I’m hoping the next chapter is thrilling and revelatory—both IRL and in this newsletter. My friend and former colleague Jessica Hester started Navigator with the goal of rekindling wonder in the ordinary; I intend to honor that spirit. In the coming months, I hope we can unpack the flaws and flurry of city life together.
Alright, let’s get to the good stuff!
This week, Jessica Hester wrote an amazing story about the 16,000 archeological sites in Miami that are at risk of being destroyed by climate change-induced flooding. Also on CityLab: Check out my long read on the reasons behind the persistent stigma in the suburbs of Paris. Kriston Capps revealed the truth behind an internet meme making waves among urbanists. And Mimi Kirk wrote about how, during the cold war, the Soviets made a series of beautiful (and creepily detailed) maps of the world.
Here's what else we're reading, watching, and listening to:
Where’s the Ellis Island of the South? Apparently: Clarkston, Georgia. (The Bitter Southerner) ¤ Humans of Walmart Parking Lots. (The New York Times) ¤ Stories from the edge of cities. (This American Life) ¤ Johan Figueroa-González is the “living statue” in Washington Square Park. (The New York Times) ¤ Chicago restaurants are stalking you on the Internet. (Chicago) ¤ The fight between two Indian states over a delicious, syrupy desert has finally been resolved. (Reuters) ¤ “Paris absorbs your sadness like it has absorbed hundreds of years of sadness.” (The New York Times) ¤ In Baku, Azerbaijan, a working-class neighborhood faces an uncertain future. (Ajam Media Collective)
I have two additional recommendations to get you through the upcoming holidays:
The hero Brooklyn needs: Comedian Wyatt Cenac (of the Daily Show fame) has written and directed a hilarious new gentrification-themed web series. Wyatt plays a superhero vigilante named Viceroy by night—(or Viceroy is Wyatt by day?)—who patrols the streets of Brooklyn. His deadliest foe? The artisanal mustard shop around the corner. The whole season comprises six 11-12 minute episodes, so you can burn through it before the turkey’s done. (Topic)
From one town to the next: I’m enjoying Nomadland by Jessica Bruder—a book about the growing number of formerly middle class families that have taken to the road since the financial crisis, trying to make ends meet.
View from the ground:
@madalinaa_b captured Copenhagen at sunset, @adntoni admired a building designed by Le Corbusier in Geneva, @vanzijp photographed some Stockholm train blues, and @lekurosawa shot this stolid piece of architecture in Montreal.
After you’ve recovered from the Thanksgiving food coma, show us how your city is transitioning from fall to winter. Is it already snowing where you live? Which neighbor already put up their Christmas lights up? Which ones never took their decorations down? Tag us on Instagram with the hashtag #citylabontheground.
Two housekeeping notes before I let you get on with your weekend:
One, we’re going to be moving over to a new platform, so you may notice a different version of this letter in your inbox. Adding email@example.com to your contact lists might keep it from going to spam. Two, from now on, we will be sending Navigator out every other week on Friday afternoons. Make sure to check your spam folder if you don’t receive it on December 1.
Finally, we’d love to hear from you! If you’d like to share what you’re watching, reading, or streaming, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “cityreads” or tweet it @citylab with the hashtag #cityreads.
Have a great Thanksgiving!