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

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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)


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