Also: The cities where you get the most bang for your buck, and what’s the deal with giant games in parks and plazas?
Today on CityLab
aug 16, 2018

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What We’re Following

How to get over: Yesterday’s shocking scene of a mass overdose in New Haven punctuates a still-growing crisis in the U.S. A new bleak estimate from the Centers for Disease Control suggests drug overdoses killed a record number of Americans last year: about 72,000. That reflects a rise of around 10 percent over the previous year, driven by strong synthetic opioids like fentanyl, according to The New York Times. Though the crisis was first concentrated in small cities and rural areas, it has grown significantly in large cities. An earlier CDC study this year found a 54 percent increase in opioid overdoses in the major metro areas of 16 states that included Chicago, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Cleveland, and Columbus. (NBC News)

As CityLab’s Linda Poon reported in April, cities and towns are racing to understand what’s driving the opioid crisis—deploying everything from real-time maps to sewer robots to diagnose what’s causing the epidemic, and craft a plan to respond. The challenge is stretching cities to their creative limits, as one first responder told Linda: “The problem is wearing people out so badly that everybody is open to any suggestions.”

Andrew Small

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More on CityLab

The Cities Where You Get the Biggest Bang for Your Buck

There may be another metro within a day’s drive where the costs of living are a lot lower and salaries go a lot further. Is is worth moving?

Tanvi Misra

An Impressive, Unnecessary, Multi-City Bridge

The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge is little more than propaganda announcing the unity of China and her former colonies, despite their very different historic, legal, and even transportation backgrounds.

Erin Hale

How a New Park Fits Detroit’s Plan to Bring Its Neighborhoods Back

The reuse of over a dozen vacant lots in the Fitzgerald neighborhood illustrates the city’s holistic approach to redevelopment outside of downtown.

Karim Doumar

What’s the Deal With Giant Games in Parks and Plazas?

Playable cities are here, and they want you to stay awhile.

Nicole Javorsky

The Mass Grave Beneath a Texas Suburb

The recent discovery of bodies of black prison laborers beneath a construction site in Sugar Land, Texas, is forcing the state to confront its difficult history.

Andrea Roberts


Little Boxes

Illustration of Seattle apartment buildings, from Crosscut.
(Photos by Matt M. McKnight/Crosscut; Illustration by Eric Keto)

Why do so many new apartment buildings in Seattle look the same? The answer, per this short video explainer from Crosscut, has a lot to do with a material called HardiePanel that’s popular in mixed-use developments. A local architect describes the fiber cement siding as a great product, though he says it’s become “overused” and “doesn’t exude a sense of permanence.” But the reasons why these buildings have become so ubiquitous in the city goes beyond their candy-colored facades.

CityLab context: You might recognize that style from the affordable housing meme that swept the internet last fall.


What We’re Reading

Warning: the e-scooter story may be more boring than it appears (Streetsblog)

What would a heat-proof city look like? (The Guardian)

Black women now lead police forces in two of America’s whitest cities, Seattle and Portland (Los Angeles Times)

If you build it, will they sponsor? (Slate)


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