Also: Cutting New Yorkers’ commute times in half, and the urbanization of music festivals.

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What We’re Following

A rising tide: For over a 100 years, Martha’s Vineyard has been a summer refuge for the wealthy, powerful, and famous. It’s also home to 17,000 year-round “islanders” who work to support much of what happens on the island—and the tension in this contrast makes it an extreme example of the affordable housing crisis sweeping the nation. While waterfront properties now hit the market for tens of millions of dollars, a substantial number of islanders become functionally homeless during the summer because they can’t afford the seasonal rental market.

(Ariel Aberg-Riger/CityLab)

Since Martha’s Vineyard is an island with tight limits on development, housing stock is limited and commuting from the mainland is a chore. But the local economy depends upon the low-wage “wealth work” that serves the vacationers. This spring, an effort to create a “housing bank” to help provide more affordable housing sparked a fiery debate in local papers—and it failed in almost every town on the island. To kick off our special August series about life in beach towns, visual storyteller Ariel Aberg-Riger writes and illustrates her story: Staying Afloat on an Island of Wealth

Andrew Small


More on CityLab

How NYC Cut Some New Yorkers’ Commute Time in Half

New York City’s MTA is planning to extend a successful program that increases transit equity by pegging discounts to underserved locations rather than people.

Rebecca Bellan

A Yellow House, a Native Heart: Life in New Orleans and Los Angeles

Sarah H. Broom’s The Yellow House and Cherríe Moraga’s Native Country of the Heart reveal the oft-overlooked daily life that fuels two storied cities.

Carmen Rios

The Rise, and Urbanization, of Big Music Festivals

The legacy of hippie Woodstock is the modern music-festival economy: materialist, driven by celebrities and social media, and increasingly urban.

Richard Florida

CityLab University: Zoning Codes

Don’t know your R1 from your FAR? We’re here to explain how zoning laws work, how these ordinances shape your city and neighborhood, and why we fight over them.

Benjamin Schneider

Berlin’s Plan to Preserve Affordable Apartments: Buy Them

To ward off rent hikes and evictions at the hands of new building owners, the city will purchase about 700 homes in the much-coveted Karl Marx Allee neighborhood.

Feargus O'Sullivan



What We’re Reading

Here’s why the Census Bureau may be in your neighborhood before the 2020 count (NPR)

Tech companies haven’t added railroad crossings to their navigation apps (Politico)

When Midwest startups sell, their hometown schools often lose (Bloomberg)

How New York City is protecting people from the deadliest disaster: heat. (Grist)


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