Also: My fight with a sidewalk robot, and the three personalities of America, mapped.

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What We’re Following

Standard fare: In New York City, a spate of attention has come recently to policing America’s largest transit system. As part of a new campaign to combat fare evasion, the MTA hired new cops to police the subway. When videos of aggressive arrests surfaced, protesters demonstrated against the police presence by jumping turnstiles en masse.

Transit systems across the world—from Santiago to London to Hong Kong—have become theaters for protest over the inequity of communities. In part, according to Alexis Perrotta, a lecturer at Baruch College, that’s because buses and subways serve as a special kind of egalitarian public space where “you are in community automatically with the people around you.” Drawing from her research interviewing riders, Perrotta explains the thought process of riders who choose to evade fares:

It’s a rational decision, and a frightening and terrible decision that you have to make because you are poor. What do you do? You still have to continue living. Being able to move around the city is just being able to continue living.

Read an interview with Perrotta on CityLab: Why Public Transit Is an Equity Battleground

Andrew Small


More on CityLab

Talent May Be Shifting Away From Superstar Cities

According to a new analysis, places away from the coasts in the Sunbelt and West are pulling ahead when it comes to attracting talented workers.

Richard Florida

My Fight With a Sidewalk Robot

A life-threatening encounter with AI technology convinced me that the needs of people with disabilities need to be engineered into our autonomous future.

Emily Ackerman

The Three Personalities of America, Mapped

People in different regions of the U.S. have measurably different psychological profiles.

Olga Khazan

Native American Tribe Gets Its Land Back, 159 Years After Brutal Massacre

The Wiyot Tribe was driven from California’s Duluwat Island in 1860. After decades of lobbying by the tribe, the Eureka City Council returned it.

Sarah Holder


Mile-High Perspective

Perspective map of the city of Denver, Colo. 1889, by Henry Wellge. (Library of Congress)

There’s more to fast-changing Denver than beer, hiking, and skiing. Still, it can be daunting for a new resident to penetrate that shallow surface. “There is no newcomers’ guide for urbanist ennui,” writes Andrew Kenney, who decamped to the Colorado capital when his partner found a good job opening. But this old map above—”Perspective map of the city of Denver, Colo. 1889”—gave Kenney a clue about where to look:

The map captured a sweeping bird’s eye view of the early city. It was distorted and perhaps embellished to impress unsuspecting would-be transplants, not unlike the modern city. But as I pored over its rendition of the South Platte River, I realized I could sync its details to real life, block by block.

From CityLab’s Maps that Make Us series: What an Old Map of Denver Can Teach a Newcomer


What We’re Reading

The quiet rooms: In schools across Illinois, kids are being locked away alone and terrified. Often, it’s against the law. (ProPublica)

As climate risk grows, cities test a tough strategy: saying “no” to developers (New York Times)

Why Walmart is turning its headquarters into a walkable town square (Curbed)

What it takes to be carbon neutral—for a family, a city, a country (Washington Post)


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