Also: ‘Big Fun Art’ spreads to Phoenix, and fighting for water and life in Mexico City.

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What We’re Following

Assembly required: Anyone who’s ever had an argument over furniture in one of IKEA’s suburban megastores might be surprised to hear that the retail giant is planning to set up shop in Midtown Manhattan. Surely, there’s no way to flatpack that massive blue-box footprint? But in a tumultuous time for the retail sector, the Swedish company is starting its own back-to-the-city movement, planning to open five “city center” stores in the U.S.—including Los Angeles, San Francisco, D.C., and Chicago—and a handful more around the world.

The move could reveal a lot about the state of retail today: Even leading brands with established e-commerce operations are rethinking how they get in front of people. As it turns out, Millennials and Gen-Zers like to browse in real life just as much as anybody else. One survey found that 63 percent of shoppers between 21 and 36 still want that in-store experience when shopping for furniture. And when it comes to attracting car-free customers in the urban core, IKEA hopes that centralizing and scaling down the big box can keep it competitive. CityLab’s Linda Poon has the story: Why IKEA Wants to Move Downtown

Andrew Small


More on CityLab

Why This Republican Mayor Spoke at Bernie Sanders’s Climate Town Hall

“The future is working in renewables, and it’s not working in coal,” Dale Ross, the mayor of Georgetown, Texas, tells CityLab.

Sarah Holder

Fighting for Water and Life in Mexico City

The Mexican metropolis is a city of vast inequality, and access to water reflects that.

Madeleine Wattenbarger

‘Big Fun Art’ Spreads to Phoenix

A risqué art exhibition housed in a 16,000-square-foot commercial building stands out among the typically more cheery immersive “museums” spreading in 2018.

Ben Ikenson

What the Ultrarich Really Want

There’s a reason many aren’t satisfied with the wealth they already have.

Joe Pinsker

Mapping the Gruesome Murders of Medieval London

Using coroners’ records from the 1300s, Cambridge researchers reveal what violence looked like in a dangerous city with little law enforcement.

Feargus O'Sullivan

Why So Many People Hate Winter

Science suggests that there are two types of people who tolerate the cold well. Sadly, I’m neither.

Olga Khazan


Bezos’s Backyard

Amazon’s HQ2 already split the share of jobs between New York City and the D.C. region, but planners in and around the capital will also share responsibility for absorbing the growth it brings across jurisdictions. With a regional housing affordability crunch and a transit system that spans Maryland, Virginia, and the District, Amazon’s arrival presents planning challenges and opportunities beyond any strict sense of city limits.

For AtlanticLive’s summit on infrastructure and transportation, CityLab editor Nicole Flatow sat down with Katie Cristol, the chair of the Arlington County Board, and Jeff Marootian, the director of the District Department of Transportation, to discuss what it all means for the region. You can spot some highlights in this Twitter moment or watch their full conversation here. CityLab context: Amazon’s HQ2 decision was always about transit


What We’re Reading

“The Nutcracker,” but for urban planning (Next City)

Why do all new apartment buildings look the same? (Curbed)

America is poorer than it thinks (Bloomberg)

New York’s vanishing mayor (New York Times)

Waymo’s self-driving taxi just launched, and the future is already boring (Fast Company)


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