Also: The city that’s giving people money, and what redlining has to do with asthma.

Keep up with the most pressing, interesting, and important city stories of the day. Sign up for the CityLab Daily newsletter here.

***

What We’re Following

“Everything went down that river. ” It was like watching a disaster movie: A river of muddy water barrels down Main Street and bursts through the storefront windows, rising to eight-foot-high rapids at the bottom of the hill. Sirens blare as the water throws cars, dumpsters, and fences downstream. In a 911 call, a woman begs the dispatcher to save them. “Are we going to die?” she asks.

But the videos were real. They were of my hometown—Ellicott City, Maryland—being wrecked by flooding over Memorial Day weekend in 2018. This kind of storm is said to happen once every 1,000 years, but this was the second one in two years. Now, many of the antique stores and funky coffee shops I frequented as a teenager are boarded up and slated to be torn down. Main Street looks like a war zone today as the county grapples with its new climate reality. The next flood could come any day.

The thing is, Ellicott City may be unique in character—much of its buildings and architecture are rooted in its past—but its dilemma is all too familiar. Small towns and big cities around the globe face the same challenge as extreme weather becomes more frequent and the world becomes warmer and wetter. And that poses an existential question: Should the town be saved? When does retreating rather than rebuilding become the only rational choice? Read my story today on CityLab: In a Town Shaped by Water, the River Is Winning

Linda Poon


More on CityLab

Childhood Asthma: A Lingering Effect of Redlining

New research shows that disparities in housing contribute to disparities in one of the most common chronic diseases afflicting children.

Kriston Capps

The City That’s Giving People Money

Randomly selected Stockton residents are receiving $500 a month. The experiment might prove that guaranteed income works.

Annie Lowrey

Separated by Design: How Some of America’s Richest Towns Fight Affordable Housing

In southwest Connecticut, the gap between rich and poor is wider than anywhere else in the country. Invisible walls created by local zoning boards and the state government block affordable housing and, by extension, the people who need it.

Jacqueline Rabe Thomas

Teenagers Have Stopped Getting Summer Jobs. Why?

Most used to work in July and August. Now the vast majority don’t. Are they being lazy, or strategic?

Derek Thompson

A Brief History of Air-Conditioning on the New York Subway

The city has tried to provide a cool summer ride since 1905, with varying degrees of success.

Eric Jaffe


What We’re Reading

Hiking or camping? Take the bus to the trail this summer (Wired)

How high-end developments use sustainability as a selling point (Curbed)

In this town, you apply for a job and you get it (NPR)

Has Trump handed Democrats an opening in rural America? (New York Times)

The controversy over WeWork’s $47 billion valuation and impending IPO, explained (Vox)


Tell your friends about the CityLab Daily! Forward this newsletter to someone who loves cities and encourage them to subscribe. Send your own comments, feedback, and tips to hello@citylab.com.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. a map of London Uber driver James Farrar's trip data.
    Transportation

    For Ride-Hailing Drivers, Data Is Power

    Uber drivers in Europe and the U.S. are fighting for access to their personal data. Whoever wins the lawsuit could get to reframe the terms of the gig economy.

  2. Smoke from the fires hangs over Brazil.
    Environment

    Why the Amazon Is on Fire

    The rash of wildfires now consuming the Amazon rainforest can be blamed on a host of human factors, from climate change to deforestation to Brazilian politics.

  3. An aerial photo of downtown Miami.
    Life

    The Fastest-Growing U.S. Cities Aren’t What You Think

    Looking at the population and job growth of large cities proper, rather than their metro areas, uncovers some surprises.

  4. Fishing boats, with high rises on the banks and a mosque in the distance.
    Environment

    Will Sea-Level Rise Claim Egypt’s Second-Largest City?

    Al-Max village in Alexandria was ruined by floods in 2015. Yet, despite climate change’s growing threat to the city, critics say it has scarcely been addressed.

  5. A row of electric dockless scooters on a sidewalk
    Transportation

    The Philosophical Argument Against Banning Scooters

    New technologies like dockless e-scooters can generate unexpected harms—but regulations aren’t always the answer.

×