Also: How to battle New York’s vacant storefronts, and look to cemeteries for affordable homes.

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What We’re Following

Return to sender: With this week's attempted bombings of prominent Democrats, CNN, and high-profile critics of President Trump, the mail once again became a vector for violence. While these mail bombs vaguely resemble threats like the Unabomber or the 2001 anthrax attacks, a historian tells CityLab’s Kriston Capps that another moment in U.S. history rhymes more closely with our current political scare. “When I was watching the news yesterday, all I could keep saying is, ‘1919! 1919!’” says Nancy Pope, who works at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum. “It’s all happening all over again.”

That year, the U.S. Postal Service intercepted 36 mail bombs meant for senators, mayors, and other officials as part of a May Day plot by anarchists. (It was foiled thanks to the intervention of one vigilant mail clerk.) The history of mail bombs dates as far back as the 19th century, but the majority aren’t political in nature at all. Dangerous packages get sent to addresses more often for personal or criminal reasons—but the most likely victims are postal workers. Thankfully, the digital era has made package screenings more thorough and safer. Today on CityLab, Kriston reports on the long, lethal history of mail bombs.

Andrew Small


More on CityLab

How to Battle the Vacant Storefronts of NYC

For decades, the city has mulled rent control for small businesses. As the city’s wealthiest areas fill with empty storefronts, lawmakers are taking another look.

John Surico

Looking for Affordable Housing? Try Near a Cemetery

Live near the dead. You just might get a discount on your home, and have (very, very) quiet neighbors.

Nicole Javorsky

Uber and Lyft’s Link to Traffic Fatalities

Since ride-hailing is putting more cars on the roads, one study finds that mobility services are also contributing to the rising number of fatal crashes.

Laura Bliss

Will Paris’s Metro Adapt to Disabled Riders Before the 2024 Olympics?

Only 3 percent of Metro stations are fully accessible, but the company that runs the system says increasing the number would be too difficult and costly.

Clothilde Goujard

How Montreal’s Largest Park Tackled Its Raccoon Problem

“When tourists arrive with food that is often very high in calories and in fat, they’re going to very quickly lose their fear of humans.”

Emma Jacobs


Motor Voter

Race and class are key fault lines in America’s deepening divide—but so is how people live and commute. The chart above shows how much congressional representatives voted with Trump and how that compares to their district’s demographics. Homeownership, marriage, driving alone, and white residents in a district have significant positive correlations with support for President Trump’s legislative agenda, while districts with a higher number of renters, transit commuters, single people, and non-white residents are significantly less likely to have a representative that votes with Trump. CityLab’s Richard Florida analyzes how the dimensions of our daily life influence America’s political divide.


What We’re Reading

Thousands of polling places were closed over the past decade. Here’s where (Washington Post)

Transit agencies are changing their approach to homelessness (Streetsblog)

Was Sears’s bankruptcy predicted by its architecture? (Curbed)

To fix the ills of tourism, think like a traffic engineer (Wired)


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