Also: When cities don’t accept cash for public services, and what the “Battle of Seattle” means 20 years later.

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What We’re Following

Boxed in: It’s officially the holiday shopping season and that means more delivery trucks on city streets brought on by e-commerce. In the United States, millions of daily packages have not only brought about a delivery truck boom; they have inverted the dynamics for collecting the sales and property taxes that fund state and local governments. Globally, the convenience of the one-click e-commerce model has helped Amazon weave itself into the life of cities. And now, Paris wants to fight back.

Writing in an open letter in Le Monde, Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo called Amazon a “creator of precarity, congestion and pollution” and “an ecological disaster.” To rein in the negative effects of urban shipping, she proposed a plan that would charge a fee to e-commerce vendors, and limit delivery times and volumes in certain neighborhoods. While Paris’s share of the global Amazon market is limited, the proposal could become a model for other jurisdictions. The question is: Would city leaders be able to handle it if companies decided to pass such taxes on to their customers? CityLab’s Feargus O’Sullivan takes a look: Why Paris Wants to Tax Amazon Deliveries

Andrew Small


More on CityLab

When Cities Don’t Accept Cash For Public Services

This year saw a wave of backlash against cashless retail, but what about when cities want to move toward all-digital payments?

Linda Poon

The Baltimore Museum of Art Made a Pledge to Buy Art by Women. Is It Just a Stunt?

The museum will only purchase artwork made by women in 2020. That won’t do much, if anything, to change the balance of representation in its collection.

Kriston Capps

‘The Other Apartment’ Offers a Portal Between the U.S. and Iran

An artist’s apartment in Tehran was meticulously recreated in Pittsburgh, inviting Americans and Iranians to inhabit the same space, half a world apart.

Laura Feinstein

What the ‘Battle of Seattle’ Means 20 Years Later

The 1999 WTO protests shut down Seattle and brought new attention to the effects of global trade. The event looms large in the activist imagination today.

Gregory Scruggs


What We’re Reading

Watch four decades of inequality drive American cities apart (New York Times)

Why tech company headquarters are now tourist attractions (CNBC)

The “Amazon effect” is flooding a struggling recycling system with cardboard (The Verge)

Malls are dying. The thriving ones are spending millions to reinvent themselves. (Washington Post)

Why shade is a mark of privilege in Los Angeles (New York Times)


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