Also: Europe wasn’t built for this kind of heat, and a cook’s tour of America by train.

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

Summer breeze: If you spend a lot of time on social media, you’ve probably run into the image below, showing a strip chock full of gas stations and fast food joints. It’s an easy target for jokes about the homogeneity of the car-centric American landscape; people often comment that this garish tangle of highway signage could be just about anywhere in the United States.

(© Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto)

What you see here, though, is a very strange and unique place: Breezewood, Pennsylvania. It’s a mega-rest-stop made possible by a quirk of federal highway funding that produced an awkward transition from Interstate 70 to the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The composition of this photo is no lucky accident, either: Photographer Edward Burtynsky spent three days in 2008 scouting out the shot to organize the jumbled elements on the Breezewood strip into a majestic skyline of burger-and-bathroom-break spots. CityLab’s Amanda Kolson Hurley reports: The Story Behind the Internet’s Favorite Photo of Car Culture

Andrew Small


More on CityLab

Europe’s Cities Weren’t Built for This Kind of Heat

A record-breaking heat wave across London, Paris, and Amsterdam is signaling an urgent need for design and cultural changes to combat climate change.

Feargus O'Sullivan

A Cook’s Tour of America by Train

Chef/transit advocate Madison Butler landed a paid internship to ride Amtrak around the nation to eat local food—and convince Congress to boost passenger rail funding.

John Surico

The Dystopian Novel That Explains What's Wrong With Real Smart Cities

In the fictional dystopia of Tim Maughan’s novel Infinite Detail, our dependence on urban technology has been suddenly severed.

Lee Gardner

A 1980s Grocery Store Is London’s Latest Protected Building

The building, designed by architect Nicholas Grimshaw, is the first-ever supermarket to appear on the National Heritage List for England.

Feargus O'Sullivan

Too Many People Want to Travel

Massive crowds are causing environmental degradation, dangerous conditions, and the immiseration and pricing-out of locals.

Annie Lowrey



What We’re Reading

Small towns fear they are unprepared for future climate-driven flooding (NPR)

How segregation keeps poor students of color out of richer nearby school districts (Vox)

With little oversight and funding, California’s water systems may be at risk (New York Times)

They said you could leave electric scooters anywhere—then the repo men struck back (The Verge)


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. illustration of a late-1800s bathroom
    Design

    How Infectious Disease Defined the American Bathroom

    Cholera and tuberculosis outbreaks transformed the design and technology of the home bathroom. Will Covid-19 inspire a new wave of hygiene innovation?

  2. photo: A cyclist rides past a closed Victoria Park in East London.
    Perspective

    The Power of Parks in a Pandemic

    For city residents, equitable access to local green space is more than a coronavirus-era amenity. It’s critical for physical, emotional, and mental health.

  3. Perspective

    In a Pandemic, We're All 'Transit Dependent'

    Now more than ever, public transportation is not just about ridership. Buses, trains, and subways make urban civilization possible.

  4. Coronavirus

    The Post-Pandemic Urban Future Is Already Here

    The coronavirus crisis stands to dramatically reshape cities around the world. But the biggest revolutions in urban space may have begun before the pandemic.

  5. photo: San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency employees turn an empty cable car in San Francisco on March 4.
    Transportation

    As Coronavirus Quiets Streets, Some Cities Speed Road and Transit Fixes

    With cities in lockdown and workplaces closed, the big drop in traffic and transit riders allows road repair and construction projects to rush forward.

×