Also: Facebook faces a housing discrimination suit, and lessons from Europe’s densest neighborhoods.

Keep up with the most pressing, interesting, and important city stories of the day. Sign up for the CityLab Daily newsletter here.


What We’re Following

“We saw this coming.” Last week’s fatal crash in Tempe, Arizona, highlighted a number of questions about autonomous vehicles and their readiness for the streets. Among them: Are people ready to get behind the wheel only to be backup drivers if something goes wrong?

CityLab’s Laura Bliss spoke with two ex-employees of Uber, who worked as backup drivers in Pittsburgh and Tempe. They describe their safety concerns, including the sheer boredom of hands-off driving and the sense that drivers are rushed into aggressive testing conditions. The job itself sounds grueling when you realize it’s eight to ten hours of not-driving in circles, while still having to pay full attention to the road:

Uber is essentially asking this operator to do what a robot would do… A robot can run loops and not get fatigued. But humans don’t do that.

Read Laura’s full report: Former Uber Backup Drivers: ‘We Saw This Coming’

ATL Online: On Tuesday, city staffers in Atlanta finally got the O.K. to reboot their computers after a five-day ransomware cyberattack, the New York Times reports. The city government had been offline since Thursday, with officials locked out of their network for day-to-day operations. “We are dealing with a hostage situation,” Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said.

Andrew Small

More on CityLab

Facebook Is Being Sued for Housing Discrimination, Too

It all goes back to how the social media company collects, shares, and sells user information.

Tanvi Misra

When Gentrification Is a Mental Health Issue

A recent study documents the negative effect on the mental health of people displaced from gentrifying neighborhoods in New York City.

Marcia Robiou

A Brexit Bridge Too Far

Boris Johnson’s recent proposal to build a span between the U.K. and France recalls a long history of ambitious construction fantasies with uninspiring origins.

Darran Anderson

The Fight for Nuclear Deterrence Goes Local

Some cities and states are taking their own initiative to protect the world from a U.S. trigger finger. And they’re mostly led by women.

Alastair Boone and Sarah Holder

Yamasaki's Regret

The architect became progressively self-critical over the spectacular failure of Pruitt-Igoe, the St. Louis housing project he designed. The time is right to reevaluate his work and its place in the history of 20th-century architecture.

Dale Allen Gyure

History Lesson

An animated gif of some of the densest areas of European countries.
Images show the densest square kilometer in several European countries. (Alasdair Rae)

European cities are famously dense, and some of the densest areas have a surprising amount in common. That’s all brought to light in a series of fascinating images of the most densely populated kilometer in 30 different European countries. CityLab’s Feargus O’Sullivan examines the history of these neighborhoods, most built between 1850 and 1914, to find out what they can tell us about life during Europe’s era of Peak Density.

What We’re Reading

How warehouses for personal junk became a $38 billion industry (Curbed)

Is it time to stop saying ‘safety net?” (Governing)

Clean indoor air is becoming China’s new luxury must-have (The Guardian)

The future of park garages doesn’t involve cars at all (Fast Company)

Baltimore’s new slogan: “You Get Used to It” (The Onion)

Tell your friends about the CityLab Daily! Forward this newsletter to someone who loves cities and encourage them to subscribe. Send your own comments, feedback, and tips to

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Transportation

    Why New York City Stopped Building Subways

    Nearly 80 years ago, a construction standstill derailed the subway’s progress, leading to its present crisis. This is the story, decade by decade.

  2. A mobile home park.

    The Case for Preserving Mobile Homes

    Preservationist and landscape architect Eduard Krakhmalnikov thinks these places are overlooked in the national conversation on affordable housing.

  3. Downtown Roanoke is pictured.

    The Small Appalachian City That’s Thriving

    Roanoke, Virginia, has become what many cities of its size, geography, and history want to be. It started by bringing housing to a deserted downtown.

  4. A plain-clothed police officer mans a position behind the counter at the Starbucks that has become the center of protests in Philadelphia.

    Suspiciously Black in Starbucks

    Starbucks doesn't need to close its stores for bias trainings. It needs to change its entire design so that it doesn’t merely reflect the character of host neighborhoods, especially if that character is racist.

  5. Life

    You Cannot Win the War on Noise

    For centuries, Western culture has been trying to find some peace and quiet. But the more people try to keep unwanted sound out, the more sensitive they become to it.