Also: The wide world of transit seat covers, and a page from the real Green Book.

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What We’re Following

Break glass: Since it was proposed in 1982, the “broken windows theory” that posits a link between physical disorder and crime has heavily influenced American policing strategies, even as it has divided experts. Joining the critics is writer and researcher Stephen Lurie; in a forthcoming study from the National Network for Safe Communities, he and his colleagues argue that serious urban violence has little to do with communities being inherently dangerous. Instead, the majority of crimes are committed by very small social networks of people. “Violent crime isn’t waiting to happen on any given block of a poorer neighborhood, nor is it likely to arise from just anyone who happens to live in one,” Lurie writes. Read his perspective on CityLab: There’s No Such Thing as a Dangerous Neighborhood

New York readers: Catch CityLab’s Tanvi Misra at the Museum of the City of New York on Thursday as she moderates “Rooted in Place: Stories of Home in the City,” a conversation with Dr. Mindy Fullilove, Eric Bunge, Annie Ling, and Zaheer Ali. Details and tickets here.

Andrew Small


More on CityLab

Can a Strong Mayor Bring Change to Pueblo, Colorado?

Switching to a strong-mayor system was a way to shake things up and put one person in charge of boosting the town’s fortunes.

Jason Plautz

The Good, Bad, and Ugly Public Transit Seat Covers of the World

An international roundup of bus, train, and subway seat designs based on CityLab’s rules for a commuter-friendly textile.

Feargus O'Sullivan

Mexico’s ‘Mayan Train’ Is Bound for Controversy

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s rail scheme would link cities and tourist sites in the Yucatan with rural areas and rainforests. But critics are lining up against the project.

Martha Pskowski

Why Is This Online Mattress Company Selling Tiny Houses?

In search of marketing synergy, Walmart’s Allswell mattress brand is getting into the prefab home business, selling trailer-mounted houses by Modern Tiny Living via its website.

Sarah Holder

The Documentary Highlighting the Real ‘Green Book’

A new Smithsonian Channel film positions the guidebook for black travelers as a necessary response to white-supremacist violence—and as a community-building tool.

Hannah Giorgis


A Page From the Green Book

AP/Bettmann/Getty/NYPL/Paul Spella/The Atlantic

The Best Picture win for Green Book has stoked some controversy, but the true history of the Jim Crow-era guidebook for black travelers is worth remembering. Victor H. Green, a black postal worker from Harlem, published The Negro Motorist Green Book from 1936 to 1966, highlighting tourist stops, gas stations, restaurants, stores, hotels, and other essential businesses that would serve African Americans.

Back when Route 66 was the most popular road in the country, the Green Book emphasized how racist violence, sundown towns, and other types of prejudice blocked black drivers from the Mother Road. In this excerpt from a 2016 CityLab story, Candacy Taylor recalls how far people went to protect themselves on the road:

In the 1950s, my stepfather, Ron, experienced this firsthand as a child. His father had a good job with the railroad and owned a nice car. After being stopped by a sheriff while on vacation with his family, the sheriff asked Ron’s dad where he got the car. Knowing better than to say it was his, Ron’s father pretended to be a chauffeur. When the sheriff asked about the other people in the car, Ron’s dad pretended they weren’t his family. He said the woman sitting next to him (his wife) was his employer’s maid, and he was taking her and her son (Ron) home. The sheriff asked, “Where’s your chauffeur hat?” Ron’s dad was ready; he had one in the car: “Hanging right up in the back, Officer.”


What We’re Reading

California’s new “sanctuary” battle could be keeping immigrant data away from ICE (Los Angeles Times)

A final decision on Chicago’s next mayor isn’t likely in Tuesday’s election. Here’s what to watch for. (Chicago Tribune)

Amid unrest in Ferguson, Missouri Highway Patrol started using a secret messaging app (Kansas City Star)

New York’s child welfare agency makes a crime of “parenting while poor” (New Republic)

Concrete is tipping us into climate change. It’s payback time. (The Guardian)


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