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.
What’s a thing that only your hometown does right—that perhaps everyone else does wrong? What’s something local that you really, really take pride in?
For Laura Bliss, our transport whiz who’s from L.A., it’s the public bus system. (“We have transit, mofos!”) For Kriston Capps, it’s Texan chili. You’re likely to find him preaching the gospel of real, beanless chili to an innocent bystander at a bar or a celebrity chef on Twitter. He’s devoted many words to this cause—here at CityLab and elsewhere on the internet.
For design nerd Mark Byrnes, it’s obviously a building—Buffalo's City Court. “Done by a local firm in the 1970s, it is easily one of the most badass brutalist civic buildings on earth,” he says. “When aliens discover the soulless remains of our scorched planet, they will gravitate to this building and understand that whatever civilization built this was once pure, good, and not to be fucked with.”
Since I’ve been living in D.C., I’ve come to cherish some of its offerings, too—its pupuserias, shutdown-themed cocktails, go-go music, and free museums. It took me a while to get to know this city, though. My first few months here were spent on the Hill, and that Washington, D.C., is very different from the one I live in. As Leigh Giangreco recently wrote, this city—not to be confused with #thistown—has mostly been ignored by national media. (And when it hasn’t been, we have sometimes wished it had.)
Alt-weeklies like DCist (RIP) and City Paper have been my gateway to D.C. They have long detailed the city’s very real flaws—and its promises. These publications have been going through some tough times, though. And I can’t say there’s a lot of optimism out there about some of the directions hyperlocal media might take in the future. But I take a lot of pride in the kind of journalism they’ve done so far; perhaps it’s worth taking a second to celebrate it.
On CityLab: So, someone just stumbled onto a 250-foot-long chunk of the Berlin Wall. ¤ Could Massachusetts become a pot sanctuary? ¤ “What is demonstrably untrue is that Modernism was intrinsically a dysfunctional byproduct of the First World War.” ¤ Why the practice of calling dibs on parking spaces during winter is becoming increasingly contentious. ¤ Here’s a beautifully illustrated story about the history of urban renewal in Roanoke, Virginia. ¤ Britain now has a minister of loneliness! ¤
Here's what else we're reading, watching, and listening to:
What gentrification is really about. (The New York Times) ¤ Has Waze stuffed up your neighborhood? Have a block party! (Miami Herald) ¤ A D.C. house party, an endangered frog, and the Supreme Court. (The New York Times) ¤ The heartfelt story of a beloved soccer field in the third largest refugee camp in the world. (SBNation) ¤ In Mumbai, street food vendors are running a marathon to feed the hungry. (Better India) ¤ Two (words) for tea—around the world. (Quartz) ¤ One man’s DIY internet service is plugging in a small town. (SF Chronicle) ¤ The origin story of the skeletons in a New York museum. (New Yorker) ¤ Ai Wei Wei brings “bicycles, boats, and bold political statements” to Buenos Aires. (Design Bloom) ¤ Sex and the supermarket. (JSTOR Daily) ¤ Utopic wellness communities: A billion-dollar enterprise. (Fast Company) ¤ The school for pastry chefs that got its start in architecture. (The New York Times) ¤ Van Gogh or a golden toilet? Guess which one the Guggenheim offered the White House. (Washington Post) ¤ “How about taking neither road, bub? Ever thought of that?” (The Baffler) ¤
View from the ground:
@jacobtitus.sb shot a South Bend bar surrounded by snow, @ethan.k56 photographed the view from atop a San Francisco hill, @ali.fuat.sutlu captured the mountain town of Pazar, in Turkey, and @julio.a.c gave us a glimpse of the straight lines that form the Columbus Public Library.
Show us the view from your city. Tag us on Instagram with the hashtag #citylabontheground.
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