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.
Full disclosure: I have plagiarized the title for this edition of Navigator from the subject lines of two email party invites I received. That extremely representative sample size of two (plus all the end-of-the-year memes I’m seeing on Twitter) signal to me that many of us are eager to move on from 2018, much like Ariana Grande from her exes.
In any case, something I’d like to do before we slide into 2019 is to thank you for reading Navigator, and for writing to me about your experiences; it’s been really nice getting to know you.
In this edition, I’d like to highlight a few of the many lovely replies I’ve received this year:
Clickety Clack!: Are there objects, buildings, or other historical quirks in a city you’ve lived in that shape your memory of it?
“Providence, [Rhode Island], has some of the oldest sidewalk trees I've ever seen in a city… Their roots are now monstrous. Many have grown so big that the sidewalks above have burst upward into undulating hills, their red bricks splayed out like buck teeth.”
— Celine Schmidt (Providence, U.S.)
What's in a Street Name?: Are you aware of or involved in any street renaming attempts in your community?
“Local residents of New Britain, [Connecticut], are attempting to rename Paul Manafort, Sr. Drive for obvious reasons, even though the street is named after the father rather than the son.”
— Brett Thompson (New Britain, U.S.)
— Jeff Caltabiano (Brooklyn, U.S.)
A Very Serious, Very Silly Map Debate: What is the right cartographic representation of the area where Jason Derulo knows what girls want?
“Personally, I think that the ‘New York to Haiti’ line might actually depend on latitudinal lines, but only in the Western Hemisphere. See image. Whether or not Hawaii would be included largely depends on how many Mai Tais Mr. Derulo consumed on the day of the song’s conception.”
— Wailana Kalama (Vilnius, Lithuania)
Zen City: What are your favorite spots to decompress?
“My favorite zen spot is a family playground on the beach. I go there and swing on the swings facing the ocean, the rhythm of the waves in my ears. Ahhhhh.”
— Ina Thorner (Santa Monica, U.S.)
“I don't feel particularly strong ties to a city or state. The U.S. was always what I felt a tie to, and yet I had that feeling of being an immigrant, with my first memories and close family in another country.”
— Kevin (Lahore, Pakistan)
“Every experience made me closer to understanding who I'm and how I want to contribute to the world. Why? Because these experiences made me question my values and everything I believed in. They made me embrace and share the great things about my very misunderstood culture/country/territory (see: the history between Puerto Rico and the U.S.).”
— María Mercedes Rodríguez (Aguas Buenas, Puerto Rico, U.S.)
Hometown Glory: Has living elsewhere changed your relationship to the city you grew up in?
“Over the past decade, every visit of mine to Chennai uncovers a new layer of its evolution from a conventional society to one that is now embracing the contemporary.”
— Deepti Adlakha (Belfast, Northern Island, U.K.)
What we’re writing:
2018: The Year of The Park. ¤ Valencia, Spain, where bees > people. ¤ Philadelphia’s problematic manholes. ¤ The AI-generated urban tree census. ¤ In “Mary Poppins Returns,” the gas lamp takes centerstage. ¤ Please don’t walk on the escalator! ¤ Mo lawn dragons, mo problems. ¤ A chat with the bêtes noires of the architecture world. ¤
What we’re taking in:
Bye bye, Bendel’s! (The New Yorker) ¤ “… we stopped at Mau Summit and tasted oranges from Tanzania—so green, so sweet.” (Popula) ¤ Judging books (in art) by their covers. (Garage) ¤ “The idea of the ugly American city was probably conceived with whole chunks of Houston in mind.” (Catapult) ¤ Toledo decorates its Christmas weed. (Washington Post) ¤ “If you’ve ever been to China, you may wonder how and why such a sprawling country should exist in a single time zone. The answer is Mao.” (Lapham’s Quarterly) ¤ “… the line between “here” and “there” is unusually blurry for Zimbabweans.” (n + 1) ¤ On building a tiny house for my Sims. (Kotaku) ¤ A time capsule of 1930s New York. (New York Times) ¤ “Unlike Chinatowns in San Francisco or New York, the “Little Saigon” areas of San Jose are not known as a tourist destination, not even in the Bay Area.” (Eater) ¤
View from the ground:
@citizenofur captured the mystic urbanism of Italy's mountains. @s.muirhead's white, Montreal winterscape is a December treasure. @marthaepark showed a frozen bridge in Memphis. @kelvintagnipez's architecture shot in Bali hearkens to warmer climes.