Also: State preemption is getting worse, and the city the A-bomb missed.

What We’re Following

X marks the spot: Maps have a powerful hold on the imagination. Whether it’s a detailed map of a mountain range, a simplified version of a city grid, or just a stencil of a region’s borders, it’s easy to lose yourself in these visual representations of places we know or might like to discover. That’s why CityLab is launching “The Maps That Make Us,” a series of personal essays that illustrate the power of maps in shaping our private and public lives.

(Madison McVeigh/CityLab)

First up, CityLab’s Laura Bliss writes about the Thomas Guide, a 3,000-page atlas of Los Angeles County that used to sit in glove compartments all around Southern California. The Guide left a powerful impression on her even before she learned to drive—Laura writes that it was like a totem for her dad in a place where dodging traffic felt like a superpower. Now, like most L.A. drivers, she uses GPS apps like Waze to get around. But something important has been lost in the digital translation: The Thomas Guide showed the entire city in context, while today’s “egocentric” smartphone apps offer only slivers of the driver’s surroundings. With convenience, Laura writes, a common picture of the city has disappeared. Read her story: How L.A. Once Found Its Way

Andrew Small


More on CityLab

State Preemption of Local Legislation Is Getting Worse

A new report shows that state legislatures have been expanding their reach in preempting cities from localized regulation on issues like gun control.

Brentin Mock

The City the A-Bomb Missed

At the end of World War II, Kokura, Japan, escaped nuclear destruction not once, but twice. Every August, the modern city’s residents mark the anniversary.

Allan Richarz

The Benefits of High-Tech Job Growth Don’t Trickle Down

A new study from the U.K. finds that although high-tech and digital industries spur job growth, less-skilled workers don’t even get spillover benefits.

Richard Florida

This Land Is the Only Land There Is

Here are seven ways of understanding the IPCC’s newest climate warning.

Robinson Meyer

The Origins of the Humble Yet Mighty Apartment Kitchen

In 1926, Austrian architect Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky designed a new, ultra-efficient kitchen for modern women. We’re still cooking in versions of it today.

Sarah Archer


Bear in Mind

(U.S. Forest Service/Reuters)

Happy 75th birthday to Smokey (the) Bear! On this day in 1944, the United States unveiled a national wildfire prevention campaign with a friendly bear mascot who dished out advice on how to prevent forest fires. The Smithsonian’s National Zoo has a new exhibit celebrating Smokey, plus a list of surprising facts to celebrate his birthday—including how the iconic bear received so much mail that he has own zip code. But, real talk, Smokey’s gonna need a lot more help: In the face of longer, more severe seasons, the federal government has a dangerous shortage of firefighters.


What We’re Reading

The lives of Ferguson activists, five years later (New York Times)

Uber lost a ridiculous amount of money last quarter and Lyft is raising fares (Slate)

After fourth e-scooter death, Atlanta imposes a nighttime ban on dockless vehicles (Curbed)

Bringing together young and old to ease the isolation of rural life (NPR)


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