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.
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
More on CityLab
Bear in Mind
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)