Also: What urban sprawl is doing to your commute, and the evolution of the school librarian.

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What We’re Following

Columbus, since 1942: Just 45 minutes south of Indianapolis, there’s a small Hoosier city that brims with main-street appeal. But Columbus, Indiana, is also a Midwestern mecca for Modernism—a world-class repository of daring mid-century design. “It’s striking to see so much clean geometry in a single place that isn’t Chicago or New York or Miami,” writes CityLab’s Kriston Capps. This unassuming Smallville boasts a major collection of parks, plazas, and buildings from architects like I.M. Pei, Eliel Saarinen, and Harry Weese.

Untitled, designed by Frida Escobedo Studio in I.M. Pei’s Cleo Rogers Memorial Library and plaza. (Hadley Fruits)

The city just kicked off Exhibit Columbus, a biennial festival launched to celebrate the city’s design pedigree, which runs until December. The festival doesn’t just elevate the city’s architectural landmarks—it also invites up-and-coming architects to respond with their own pavilions, interventions, and activations. By doing so, Exhibit Columbus turns a lens around on architecture and itself, giving some hard thought about the social factors that shaped its design. Kriston reports: Columbus, Indiana, Brings Modernism Down to Earth

Andrew Small

More on CityLab

What Urban Sprawl Is Really Doing to Your Commute

Traffic congestion is growing dramatically, according to a new report. So why aren’t drivers taking longer to get to work?

Bruce Schaller

My Life Spent in Mexico City's Food Markets

The relationship between the writer and her food merchants is a familial one extending through generations, and beyond the hunt for that one perfect taco.

Juana Lomeli

The Decline and Evolution of the School Librarian

As school districts cut budgets, librarians’ jobs are dwindling and changing dramatically. What does that mean for students?

Hallie Golden

'Travelers Like Me Are Loving the World To Death'

As a global climate crisis deepens, even professional travelers should cut back on their air miles.

Henry Wismayer

The First Fatal Car Crash

Mary Ward, a naturalist and astronomer, decided to go for a ride in her cousin’s homemade automobile.

Sam Kean

Big WPA Energy


The Democratic presidential candidates are set to talk about climate change for a total of seven hours on CNN tonight. They’re likely to get into the nitty-gritty details on what counts as a Green New Deal, the environmental package boosted by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. But the new GND awareness campaign from the New York congresswoman gives credence to an old political truism: Voters want a poster, not an etching.

If the posters feel familiar at first glance, you’re not imagining it. The chunky all-caps type, the emphasis on places of natural beauty, and even the color palettes evoke the series of posters produced by the previous New Deal: the Federal Art Project, which was part of the Works Progress Administration. CityLab Senior Editor Amanda Kolson Hurley talked to the design team behind the new posters: What’s the Deal with AOC’s Retro-Style GND Posters?

What We’re Reading

NTSB: The Tesla in the 2018 California crash had Autopilot engaged (Reuters)

Inside the shadowy think tank pushing to kick 3.1 million people off food stamps (Vox)

How a Trump tax break to help poor communities became a windfall for the rich (New York Times)

Are we overestimating how much trees will help fight climate change? (Undark)

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