The competition for HQ2 has given Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos plenty of reason to smile. Ted S. Warren/AP

Also: Should Cynthia Nixon apologize? And five breakthroughs that could make you love the bus.

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What We’re Following

Much HQ2 about nothing: Amazon’s search for a second headquarters in a North American city has at times felt like a game of Fantasy Urbanism, as the company’s bidding process set up key metropolitan goals. But an analysis by CityLab’s Richard Florida and his colleagues finds that key criteria didn’t matter as much when it came time to make the cut from 238 cities to 20 finalists. Some of the cities on the final shortlist don’t fit core preferences, such as access to mass transit or having international airport service, while some of the rejected sites actually had better qualifications.

Florida writes that Amazon’s failure to follow its own guidelines reveals the HQ2 process as another cynical corporate site selection strategy—a “rigged game” that set up a bidding war between cities. It also got cities to crowdsource a massive urban development database that will now make the company’s expansion into North America all the easier. Read his analysis: The Hypocrisy of Amazon’s HQ2 Process

Andrew Small


More on CityLab

Should Cynthia Nixon Apologize for Her 'Reparations' Comment?

New York gubernatorial candidate and former “Sex in the City” co-star Cynthia Nixon has a pretty progressive campaign platform on racial equity and cannabis legalization—so what’s the problem?

Brentin Mock

Tourism's Climate Footprint Is Much Larger Than Previously Thought

The industry accounts for about 8 percent of global climate emissions, and that number is expected to rise.

Kate Wheeling

Five Breakthroughs That Could Make You Love the Bus

Can new technology radically improve the rider experience?

Benjamin Schneider

The Other Side of Israel's 'White City'

Right wing populists like Benjamin Netanyahu blame south Tel Aviv’s bad reputation on its African community. But the urban fabric of the area tells a more complicated story about the city’s character.

Miriam Berger

What If People Were Paid to Use Less Water?

Pilot programs in Morocco and California are rewarding people financially for conserving water, rather than charging them for excessive consumption.

Zachary Burt


Heart of town

(Justin Fung)

Commuters make Manhattan’s population double from 2 million to 4 million people every day during the work week. But that influx of people scattered on the densest borough’s busy streets can be difficult to wrap your head around. Take a look at this GIF of a new interactive from geo-spatial data scientist Justin Fung, and you’ll catch the rhythm of the city’s working heartbeat.

Fung pulled together data from the 2010 Census, MTA turnstile data, and a previous NYU Wagner dynamic population study to produce the hourly, block-by-block population bars that arguably demonstrate the need for skyscrapers—or a least, lunch spots, since peak Manhattan population hits on Wednesdays at 2 p.m. CityLab context: An economic explanation of New York’s skyscrapers and Where do the five boroughs of New York live and work?


What We’re Reading

The importance of beauty in affordable housing (Next City)

How Wall Street, Silicon Valley institutionalized house flipping (Curbed)

The rise of the American news desert (Vox)

Two MTA decisions pushed the subway into crisis (The New York Times)

The new gig economy job? Charging electric scooters (Curbed)

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