Also: Montreal’s “remarkable” chance to build a new neighborhood, and who’s ready for super-long flights?
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What We’re Following
Drive time: In 1994, Cesare Marchetti, an Italian physicist, described an idea that has come to be known as the Marchetti Constant: Throughout history, urban dwellers—regardless of whether they walk, bike, ride, or drive—have been willing to travel for about an hour each day. Modern Atlanta may thus bear little resemblance to Ancient Greece or Medieval Paris, but residents of all three cities share this time-tested tendency to take on 30-minutes commutes.
The principle has profound implications for life in cities. New technologies have radically changed mobility over the centuries, and the footprints of cities have adapted as a result. But even as urban areas grew from two-mile-wide walking cities into eight-mile-wide streetcar cities into 40-mile-wide expressway cities, each new mode of transport eventually reaches its limit, putting strains on housing, jobs, and time. And many U.S. cities are reaching that breaking point now. Today on CityLab, Jonathan English takes us on a journey through 2,800 years of getting downtown: The One Weird Rule That Defines Urban Footprints
More on CityLab
What We’re Reading
Inclusive cities start with safe streets (Curbed)
Mayors are harassed and threatened, but just how often? (Governing)
When a business improvement district pits pedestrian safety against homeless encampments (Washington City Paper)
More people are leaving New York City than any other U.S. city (Bloomberg)