Also: When paying high rent is “saving” for the future, and the case for renaming Austin.

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***

What We’re Following

“My district is hot.” These are the words of Summer Lee, who is set to become the first black woman elected as a state House representative in western Pennsylvania. Her district includes Braddock, a city just outside of Pittsburgh that was the primary site for steel manufacturing plants that built the bedrock of American society in the 20th century. Most of those steel mills are now shuttered, and Braddock is the poster child for environmental injustice. Its predominantly black and impoverished population lives in one of the most pollution-burdened cities in America, producing disparate health outcomes ranging from asthma to infant mortality.

CityLab teamed up with Topic.com, an online magazine that today published a series of documentary vignettes that show the suffering and the hopes of Braddock today. As part of that project, we profiled Lee and the city itself to give readers a view of what each is facing in an atmosphere clogged with smog from the few remaining steel operations, and also the ever-present threat of police violence—as embodied by the recent police killing of Antwon Rose II, just outside of Braddock in East Pittsburgh.

A portrait of Summer Lee.
Summer Lee (Jonno Rattman/Topic)

The problems are best summarized by Lee: “We literally have this steel mill that has been killing us. Our air quality is the worst in the country, and because of the funding schemes for housing and education, we're stuck in this cycle. We can't get out of this area that is killing us.”

Today on CityLab:

Brentin Mock


More on CityLab

Paying High Rent in Pricey Cities Is ‘Saving’ for the Future

Calling all rent rationalizers: A new paper shows how location is a financial asset like any other.

Laura Bliss

Why the Next Silicon Valley Will Probably Be Outside the U.S.

The biggest challenges to the Bay Area’s dominance in tech will likely come from overseas.

Richard Florida

What the Hell: Why Not Rename Austin?

A report about city-owned streets named after the Confederacy has sparked a broader (and misleading) conversation about Austin’s history.

Kriston Capps

The Cost of Flood Insurance Is a Price Worth Paying

Hours before it was set to expire, Congress reauthorized the National Flood Insurance Program. That’s a good thing: Despite its many problems, America needs it now more than ever.

Samantha Montano and Amanda Savitt

The Teen Who Wanted to Fix Atlanta’s Noise Pollution Problem

In the 1970s, one local high-school girl went to some of the loudest parts of the city to see just how bad the problem was.

Karim Doumar


What We’re Reading

Why juvenile curfews don’t work (The Marshall Project)

Kris Kobach defended towns’ anti-immigration ordinances and lost big. It’s still been lucrative for him (ProPublica)

Can Waymo’s self-driving cars help Phoenix’s public transit? (Wired)

Forty years after the bombing in Philadelphia, what happened to the Move 9? (The Guardian)

New York City takes aim at racism and maternal mortality (Next City)


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