Also: How the creative class affects rural areas, and the history of the “beach cruiser.”

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What We’re Following

Sands of time: Every summer, visitors flock to New York City’s Rockaways, a slender peninsula of sand just south of JFK Airport in Queens. Since Superstorm Sandy tore up the area’s boardwalk and damaged several homes, reconstruction funds have brought wider attention to this long-neglected community; parts of the Rockaways are now seeing rising housing prices and gentrification. But that hasn’t stopped the waves from stealing the beach: Last year, the NYC Parks Department made the abrupt decision to shutter a popular section of beachfront due to sand erosion. There was no longer enough room for people to safely stroll or swim.

Locals have long complained about the disappearing sand, but officials often seemed apathetic to the problem. That’s a familiar feeling for this community, which has been isolated from the rest of the city since it began its modern existence. Several hurricanes have whipped through the Rockaways over the years, but you might say that Robert Moses was the first superstorm: NYC’s famous master planner demolished many homes and businesses during his urban renewal campaigns of the 1950s. Today, the oceanfront neighborhood is facing down both climate change and neighborhood change. CityLab’s Laura Bliss has the story for CityLab’s Beach Week: Rockaway Beach is Disappearing and Resurgent All at Once

Andrew Small

More on CityLab

In Paris’s Suburbs, a Bike Trail Plan Carries a Big Promise

Cycling advocates have proposed a network of bicycle paths connecting the suburbs and city center, comparing their plan to the region’s rapid transit system.

Feargus O'Sullivan

The Innovations of the Creative Class Affect a Rural Area’s Fortunes

A new study measures innovation and shows that when found in rural areas, it is tied to significant presence of the creative class.

Richard Florida

How the California Beach Cruiser Started a (Very Slow) Bike Revolution

In the 1970s, the signature fat-tired mobility mode of beach towns managed to turn vacationers into bicycle riders.

Andrew Small

How Rule Changes About Public Benefits Could Affect Immigrants

The Trump administration announced changes to the “public charge” rule that will prevent immigrants who access government services from staying in the U.S.

Sarah Holder

Toni Morrison's Hometown Is Telling Us Something

The late novelist was born in Lorain, in a small-town Ohio she called “neither plantation nor ghetto.” But much has changed.

Tara L. Conley

Seagull Approach

(Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Speaking of beaches, the New York Times has a great story about a strange but effective solution to the problem of aggressive seagulls dive-bombing the boardwalk in Ocean City, New Jersey: hiring an “army of winged bouncers.” The city is deploying seven trained birds of prey—four hawks, two falcons, and an owl—to scare off marauding gulls that have learned to steal food from beach tourists.

Some environmental groups praise the city’s humane approach to the avian menace. “The best way to put nature back into balance is to bring back predators,” the director of the New Jersey Sierra Club tells the Times. “Whether it’s hawks or falcons in urban areas to reduce pigeon populations, or sea gulls along the coast, it makes a lot more sense.”

From CityLab’s Beach Week: All I Really Needed to Know About Cities I Learned From ‘Jaws’

What We’re Reading

A federal bill would help cities tear down highways (Streetsblog)

YIMBYs are suing small cities (Next City)

Pete Buttigieg’s plan to use immigration to revitalize shrinking communities, explained (Vox)

WeWork shows massive $900 million loss ahead of IPO (Curbed)

West Virginia’s governor has a luxury resort in an “opportunity zone” that’s filled with conflicts of interest (ProPublica)

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