Also today: How gerrymandering silenced North Carolina’s cities, and is your librarian racist?

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What We’re Following

HQ2 patrol: For Amazon prognosticators everywhere, a clue! The Boston Globe reports that the internet giant is on the hunt for 1 million square feet of office space in Beantown, with negotiations zeroing in on an area near the waterfront. Boston stood out in the 238 cities in the bidding sweepstakes for HQ2, setting up an Amazon Task Force and offering retail space for “Amazon spaces” while boasting that it’s “wicked close to everything.”

‘Off location’: Did you hear what the president said? (No, not that). He’s canceling his trip to London, tweeting he doesn’t want to attend a ribbon-cutting for the new American embassy, calling it a “bad deal” in an “off location.” Feargus O’Sullivan reviewed the new building for CityLab, saying, “With a setting like this, the embassy has a lot to live down to.”

MLK Day: Martin Luther King Day has new resonance this year, as we approach the 50th anniversary of his assassination. A Smithsonian exhibit takes a look at how black urban design changed America after that pivotal year. Also on CityLab: Biloxi, Mississippi, will officially celebrate MLK Day for the first time, after ditching “Great Americans Day,” which lumped Confederate General Robert E. Lee into the holiday.


More on CityLab

How Gerrymandering Silenced North Carolina’s Cities: “Packing” and “cracking” voters boosted the GOP and muted urban voices. Now federal judges have struck down the latest redistricting plan.

How Detroit Beat ‘Fugitive Dust’: Over industry objections, the city passed a new set of environmental regulations when residents complained about clouds of black petroleum-byproduct dust.

To Measure the ‘Uber Effect,’ Cities Get Creative: Ride-hailing companies are cagey on all-important trip data. So researchers are finding clever workarounds.

Is Your Librarian Racist?: Findings from a new study indicate that “black-sounding” names are less likely to get a reply from public service providers.

What Does Marijuana Justice Actually Look Like?: Senator Cory Booker’s bill to legalize marijuana is pretty ambitious, but not ambitious enough, says Harvard Law Review.

How Cities Can Take a Stand on Cannabis: With a recent policy change from Jeff Sessions, localities may again be more vulnerable to federal crackdowns. But some of the pioneers of pot legalization have been through this before.


Listen Up

A woman with headphones is pictured. (David Gray/Reuters)
(David Gray/Reuters)

If you’re looking for some podcasts for the long weekend, check out what these CityLabbers are saying:


What We’re Reading

A Toronto Transit Commission review of The Commuter—for train safety (The Globe and Mail)

Ten city-reshaping developments to watch in 2018 (Curbed)

How towns in Mexico fend for themselves (New York Times)

The rock club that helped feed San Juan after Hurricane Maria (Pitchfork)

An investigation into the all-cash sales of Trump condos to shell companies (BuzzFeed)


What’s going on in your neighborhood? Send stories, tips, and feedback to hello@citylab.com.

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