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.
Hello, and welcome to a fresh edition of Navigator! (Also, apparently, to summertime—at least on the East Coast, here in America.)
So, this week, I learned that young Americans (members of Gen Z, for the folks keeping tabs on the terminology) are more likely to feel lonely than the average American. Obviously, loneliness is a complicated and subjective experience, rooted in myriad economic, technological, and sociological reasons. But the study got me thinking about the role geography plays in fostering, or mitigating, feelings of loneliness. For me, a pastoral countryside—with its silence and space—evokes a feeling of isolation. I’ve always lived in cities, and feel like the buzz of having so many people together in the same space can blunt the edge of loneliness. Perhaps, to another person, the crowdedness just sharpens it. Case in point: Tokyo—the largest city in the world—where the loneliness can certainly rise above the din, and sometimes even feel deafening.
I am curious about your experiences—what role do you think geography plays in fueling loneliness? As always, drop me a line at email@example.com.
What we’ve been writing:
Here at CityLab, Brentin Mock wrote about the urgent need to stop Kanye West from
tweeting building a city: “Unlike his beats and sneakers—but very much like his sweatsuits—this would not be a good idea,” Brentin writes.
Other stories: Venice is gating the historic part of the city to keep tourists out. ¤ “Unfortunately, none of the Avengers thought to hit Thanos with a study from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.” ¤ Spain’s ghost towns, photographed by drones. ¤ The politics behind the “Little Pink House.” ¤ New Davonhaime: a conceptual city for black Americans. ¤
What we’ve been taking in:
“’We love Cairo!’ … for them, Egypt was um al-duniya, the mother of the world.” (New Yorker) ¤ Sketches from a Chennai-based artist’s favorite city haunts. (Scroll.In) ¤ A tour of Milwaukee that shines light on racist housing policy. (Fast Company) ¤ Confirmed: “Vending machines are a little bit magic.” (Slate) ¤ The jazz maestro hitting the road to heal communities affected by gun violence. (The Undefeated) ¤ The feminists of Basque Country. (The Baffler) ¤ “Mr. Singh is also among the last of a vanishing breed: the sidewalk newspaper hawker.” (The New York Times) ¤ The great high school imposter of Harrisburg. (GQ) ¤ “The faces and stories in these meetings changed from week to week, but I quickly learned the metal folding chairs, and that feeling of togetherness, are heavy things that stay in place.” (Curbed) ¤
And here’s a gem CityLab’s Mark Byrnes found on the Internet:
UK-based architecture historian Otto Saumarez Smith recently came across some remarkable drawings of Le Corbusier’s Unité d'habitation in Marseille. They were made by kindergarteners who attended the school inside the colorful concrete residential complex in its early years. If you ask me, the kids gave the famous architect’s own chalkboard drawing of the place a run for its money and some even did a better job of emphasizing the building’s social life.
View from the ground:
@paola.kola took note of windows in the Balkans, @anney_looks_up photographed a glass-heavy home in Chicago’s Roscoe Village, @misterkchung captured the density and scale of Hong Kong, and @hammeredtoast documented the view near Turkey’s Roumeli Hissar Castle.
Tag us on Instagram with the hashtag #citylabontheground.
Over and out,