Also: San Jose wants to be the ultimate foil of Amazon’s HQ2 search, and what’s really happening to retail.
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What We’re Following
Stalling for time: If you’ve ever seen a sofa in a public restroom, you have the Victorians to thank. You might wonder why it was ever common for women’s restrooms to have a lounge at all. Some of it has to do with the extra layers of clothing at the time, but there’s a lot more going on with these parlor rooms: That couch is rooted in a curious combination of Victorian culture, class and race divisions, retail marketing, and what men thought women needed when they ventured out in public.
“They were designed like living rooms—like parlors—as spaces to protect virtue,”said design historian Alessandra Wood. As women became more active participants in public spaces, architects of luxury buildings such as hotels, theaters, and department stores tipped their hat to the notion of separate spheres for men and women. The evolving uses of these lounges—and their disappearance—reveals a history of societal attitudes in the United States. Today on CityLab: The Glamorous, Sexist History of the Women’s Restroom Lounge
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See My Vest
French protests over rising gas and diesel taxes escalated dramatically over the weekend, with Paris demonstrations becoming the country’s most violent urban riot in a decade, the AP reports. The so-called Yellow Vest movement features drivers wearing the neon gear they’re required to carry in case of emergency, and while the full scope of the movement’s demands aren’t entirely clear, at its core is a belief that the fuel taxes represent a political leadership that’s out of touch with the needs of the lower and middle classes across the country. We’ll have more on the latest developments soon, and here’s what CityLab’s Feargus O’Sullivan wrote previously about why the “Yellow Vest” movement has taken to the streets and highways across France.
What We’re Reading
The mayor tasked with leading other mayors on housing (Next City)
China “is the only one in the race” to make electric buses, taxis, and trucks (Wall Street Journal)
The unprecedented plan to move an Arctic city (The Guardian)
Ikea’s first city-center store in the U.S. is coming to Manhattan (Curbed)