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Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design by Charles Montgomery
2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, agricultural Revolution, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, Bernie Madoff, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, car-free, carbon footprint, centre right, City Beautiful movement, clean water, congestion charging, correlation does not imply causation, East Village, edge city, energy security, Enrique Peñalosa, experimental subject, Frank Gehry, Google Earth, happiness index / gross national happiness, Home mortgage interest deduction, housing crisis, income inequality, income per capita, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, license plate recognition, McMansion, means of production, megacity, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mortgage tax deduction, New Urbanism, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, rent control, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, science of happiness, Seaside, Florida, Silicon Valley, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the High Line, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade route, transit-oriented development, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban sprawl, wage slave, white flight, World Values Survey, Zipcar
Soon after, the freeway-demolishing mayor was elected president of his country. Underperforming or unused transportation infrastructures are fine terrain for biophilic retrofits. The High Line, the decommissioned elevated rail line converted into a nineteen-block linear park on Manhattan’s West Side, is most famous for the bird’s-eye glimpses it offers into offices, private living rooms, and down to the street from viewing platforms that turn evening traffic into rivers of light. But much closer are hundreds of species of flora, from chokecherries and willows to creeping raspberries and autumn moor grass, much of which had already begun to colonize the abandoned platform before its conversion. The High Line’s natural caress draws visitors into a playful intimacy. On one warm day I joined a group of strangers who had removed their shoes and splashed in a toe-deep pond amid the wispy moor grass.
Since this park opened, urbanists in every city have clamored for their own High Line, but every city is unique, and so are the opportunities. The City of Los Angeles, for example, is working to turn thirty-two miles of the desolate, concrete-lined Los Angeles River into an “emerald necklace” of parks and paths. Cities have more room for nature than we might think. The architecture firm partly responsible for the High Line, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, demonstrated this again a few dozen blocks north, in their renovation of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, where they created a green hillside by adding a new restaurant building to the Lincoln campus. A sloping, off-kilter roof (hyperbolic paraboloid is the technical name for the form) planted with green grass rears up from the plaza, inviting passersby to collapse on its vertical meadow.
Vancouverism: “Vancouverism is characterized by tall, but widely separated, slender towers interspersed with low-rise buildings, public spaces, small parks and pedestrian-friendly streetscapes and facades to minimize the impact of a high density population.” From Chamberlain, Lisa, “Trying to Build the Grand Central of the West,” New York Times, December 28, 2005, www.nytimes.com/2005/12/28/realestate/28transbay.html (accessed January 24, 2011). Cheonggyecheon River: Vidal, John, “Heart and Soul of the City,” The Guardian, November 1, 2006. High Line: High Line and Friends of the High Line, “High Line: Planting,” www.thehighline.org/design/planting (accessed September 15, 2012). bacteria found naturally in soil boosts seratonin: “Can Bacteria Make You Smarter?” Science Daily, May 24, 2010, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100524143416.htm (accessed March 3, 2012). One study in Alameda: Pillemer, K., T. E. Fuller-Rowell, M. C. Reid, and N. M. Wells, “Environmental Volunteering and Health Outcomes over a Twenty-Year Period,” The Gerontologist, 2010: 594–602.
2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, asset-backed security, Bakken shale, banking crisis, BRICs, British Empire, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, Carmen Reinhart, clean water, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, currency manipulation / currency intervention, demand response, Donald Trump, Frederick Winslow Taylor, high net worth, housing crisis, hydraulic fracturing, If something cannot go on forever, it will stop, illegal immigration, index fund, intermodal, inventory management, Kenneth Rogoff, labor-force participation, LNG terminal, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, Maui Hawaii, McMansion, mortgage debt, Network effects, new economy, obamacare, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price stability, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, reserve currency, reshoring, Richard Florida, rising living standards, risk tolerance, risk/return, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, Skype, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, superstar cities, the High Line, transit-oriented development, Wall-E, Yogi Berra, Zipcar
In 2010 the number rose to 48.8 million, with 9.7 million, or 20 percent, of them international visitors. Both figures were records, and that’s a 46 percent increase in foreign visitors in five years. On December 21, 2011, New York City chose Craig and Lucy Johnson, a couple from England, as the honorary fifty-millionth visitors to the city. They had come to get married at the observation deck atop the General Electric building in Rockefeller Center. Walk the length of the High Line, the once-derelict elevated railroad track turned chichi promenade in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District, and you’ll scarcely hear a word of English spoken.4 When an Indian technology executive visits New York and spends money at the Gap and the Marriott, that’s calculated in the national accounts as an export. When an American spends money at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, that’s an import.
The extension of the 7 line one station west in Manhattan, at a cost of $2.1 billion, is helping to encourage billions of dollars of investment in the Hudson Yards development zone, a warren of unused railroads. The Second Avenue subway line, a $17 billion project several decades in the making and scheduled for completion in 2017, will be likely to have a similar effect. Even infrastructure that doesn’t really go anywhere can pay dividends. Build something new, something interesting, something useful, and it invites others to do the same. Take the High Line. The elevated freight rail line on the West Side of Manhattan was unused and in disrepair until a group of arty visionaries had the idea of turning it into a park. It has become a platform for billions of dollars of investment in stores and restaurants, condominiums, offices, and hotels. Not every place is New York, but many regions and many cities could benefit from the sort of network effects that New York enjoys.
Don’t wait for the approval of gigantic solar farms; start attaching solar panels to telephone and utility poles, as New Jersey has done. Don’t wait for an infrastructure bank; scrape up some funds and start building and rebuilding commercial infrastructure on your own. In today’s economy the simple act of building something can send important signals, inspire action, and turn economic liabilities into assets. This dynamic can be seen in the High Line, the elevated railroad whose transformation from defunct rail bed to elevated park has in turn transformed the Manhattan neighborhood it runs through. Eighty miles north of Manhattan, another defunct elevated railway performed a similar function for a town that has been starved of capital. Since a fire in 1974, the railroad bridge that spanned the Hudson River at Poughkeepsie stood as an unused, rusting piece of infrastructure.
Actually, I’m betting cavewomen were the original “co-sleepers” so the baby was right there anyway, not off in some “cave nursery” with little furniture and choo-choo trains on the walls. What I’m saying is, I don’t think cavewomen Ferberized. Of course, they also lived to age thirty and didn’t brush their teeth. But still. Over Theeeere! Over Theeeere! My father has absconded with the baby again. We are walking down the High Line in Chelsea. My dad loves manning the stroller. He is so into manning the stroller and gazing at his grandson that sometimes he breaks into a rapid pace, forgetting his surroundings and the surrounding party of people who are also there to bask in the light of the Glorious Manchild. These fugitive runs tend to coincide with cases of extreme temperature. Right now, it is nearing ninety with bright sun.
My brother looks at John and just shrugs, rolling his eyes as if to say, “What can ya do?” My dad grudgingly hands Eli over. Eli’s hands get warmed up. They come back to the house—where I’ve been waiting—blustering in from the cold. “Ahhhhh, I love this little guy! We had so much fun!” Eli got a good dose of the Icelandic Plan for Good Baby Health that day, courtesy of Paul Dratch. Now, at the High Line, in the summer heat, we have to chase my dad down the path, but he’s way ahead of us. He disappeared from sight long ago. We catch up to him finally and he brightly reports, “We’re having a blast! Aw, look at him. He’s my little buddy!” He’s oblivious to the fact that once again, he’s been hogging the baby. My parents not only came around to the idea of the pregnancy and grandchild, they have been reborn.
The World Without Us by Alan Weisman
In some places, the track emerges from the second stories of warehouses it once serviced into elevated lanes of wild crocuses, irises, evening primrose, asters, and Queen Anne’s lace. So many New Yorkers, glancing down from windows in Chelsea’s art district, were moved by the sight of this untended, flowering green ribbon, prophetically and swiftly laying claim to a dead slice of their city, that it was dubbed the High Line and officially designated a park. In the first few years with no heat, pipes burst all over town, the freeze-thaw cycle moves indoors, and things start to seriously deteriorate. Buildings groan as their innards expand and contract; joints between walls and rooflines separate. Where they do, rain leaks in, bolts rust, and facing pops off, exposing insulation. If the city hasn’t burned yet, it will now.
“Longitudinal Neurocognitive Assessments of Ukranians Exposed to Ionizing Radiation After the Chernobyl Nuclear Accident.” Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, vol. 20, 2005, 81–93. Gao, F., et al. “Origin of HIV-1 in the Chimpanzee Pan troglodytes troglodytes? Nature vol. 397, February 4, 1999, 436–41. Gochfeld, Michael. “Dioxin in Vietnam—the Ongoing Saga of Exposure.” Journal of Occupational Medicine, vol. 43, no. 5, May 1, 2001, 433–34. Gopnik, Adam. “A Walk on the High Line.” The New Yorker, May 21, 2001, 44–49. Graham-Rowe, Duncan. “Illegal CFCs Imperil the Ozone Layer.” New Scientist, December 17,2005, 16. Grayson, Donald K, and David J. Meltzer. “Clovis Hunting and Large Mammal Extinction: A Critical Review of the Evidence.” Journal of World Prehistory, vol. 16, no. 4, December 2002, 313–59. Greeves, Tom. “The Dartmoor Tin Industry—Some Aspects of Its Field Remains.”
The Human Age: The World Shaped by Us by Diane Ackerman
23andMe, 3D printing, additive manufacturing, airport security, Albert Einstein, augmented reality, back-to-the-land, carbon footprint, clean water, dark matter, dematerialisation, double helix, Drosophila, epigenetics, Google Earth, Google Glasses, haute cuisine, Internet of things, Loebner Prize, Louis Pasteur, Masdar, megacity, microbiome, nuclear winter, personalized medicine, phenotype, Ray Kurzweil, refrigerator car, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, SETI@home, skunkworks, Skype, stem cell, Stewart Brand, the High Line, theory of mind, urban planning, urban renewal, Whole Earth Catalog
I enjoyed their brief honking companionship, and learned something about geese I didn’t know: what clamorous watchdogs they make. A different stripe of oasis growing in popularity is the High Line on Manhattan’s West Side, a surprising sprawl of undulating benches, nests, perches, and lookouts, giving New York City yet another bridge—this one between the urban and the rural. An old elevated freight spur, little more than a rusty eyesore on the Hudson, it’s metamorphosed into a tapestry of self-seeding wildflowers and domestic blooms. It isn’t the first raised park (there’s the Promenade Plantée in Paris, and remember the Hanging Gardens of Babylon?), but the High Line is the loveliest city rail trail I know. Picturesque, with many scenic views, it’s also richly detailed and alive, allowing you to feel elevated in spirit, floating in a garden in space where butterflies, birds, humans, and other organisms mingle.
2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson
agricultural Revolution, double helix, full employment, hive mind, if you see hoof prints, think horses—not zebras, Kuiper Belt, late capitalism, mutually assured destruction, offshore financial centre, pattern recognition, phenotype, post scarcity, precariat, retrograde motion, stem cell, strong AI, the built environment, the High Line, Turing machine, Turing test, Winter of Discontent
Indeed it was an oft-expressed cliché that the city had been improved by the flood. The long stretch of skyscrapers looked like the spine of a dragon. The foreshortening effect as they got closer made the buildings look shorter than they really were, but their verticality was unmistakable and striking. A forest of dolmens! Swan got off the ferry at the Thirtieth Street Pier and walked on the broad catwalk between buildings to the High Line extension, where people filled the long plazas stretching north and south. Manhattan on foot: workers pushing narrow handcarts on crowded skyways, connecting island neighborhoods suspended between skyscrapers at differing heights. The rooftops were garnished with greenery, but the city was mostly a thing of steel and concrete and glass—and water. Boats burbled about on the water below the catwalks, in the streets that were now crowded canals.
Some of the submerged docks now held aquaculture pens, and Swan’s old partner Zasha apparently now ran a pharm on one of these piers, growing various piscean drugs and bioceramics while also doing things for the Mercury House—and for Alex. Swan had called ahead, and Zasha appeared at the fence that cut a floating dock off from the big plaza complex west of Gansevoort Street, at the south end of the High Line. After a brief hug, Z led her to the end of the dock and then out on the Hudson River in a boat, a smooth little hummer that soon had them midriver. Everything on the water moved at a watery pace, including the water itself. The Hudson River here was wide; the entire city of Terminator would have fit in New York Harbor. Bridges were visible all over the place, including one on the distant southern horizon.
3D printing, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Berlin Wall, Black Swan, clean water, collapse of Lehman Brothers, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, declining real wages, demographic dividend, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, follow your passion, game design, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, industrial robot, invisible hand, James Dyson, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, John Gruber, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, lone genius, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, new economy, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, race to the bottom, reshoring, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, Skype, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, supply-chain management, Tesla Model S, The Chicago School, The Design of Experiments, the High Line, The Myth of the Rational Market, thinkpad, Tim Cook: Apple, too big to fail, tulip mania, We are the 99%, Y Combinator, young professional, Zipcar
Try disconnecting for a bit of the day, especially in the morning. Take a walk. Walking alone is an excellent strategy for freeing your mind up so that you’re better able to bring together different areas of knowledge. You can keep a particular challenge in mind as you walk, or you can just look around and see what other inspirations strike you. Steve Jobs was a walker. Mark Zuckerberg is a walker. IDEO cofounder Bill Moggridge talked about walking the High Line in New York to find clarity and creative inspiration. Walking to a local park (or nearby beach, if you’re lucky) or even just around your neighborhood can give you the space you need to start mining the knowledge you’ve accumulated and connecting dots. And finding that neighborhood coffee shop to hang out and just think is important too. The late Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter and professor Donald Murray once wrote, “My writing day begins about eleven-thirty in the morning when I turn off my computer and go out to lunch.
When to Rob a Bank: ...And 131 More Warped Suggestions and Well-Intended Rants by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner
Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airport security, augmented reality, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, Broken windows theory, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, deliberate practice, feminist movement, food miles, George Akerlof, invisible hand, loss aversion, mental accounting, Netflix Prize, obamacare, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, pre–internet, price anchoring, price discrimination, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, Richard Thaler, security theater, Ted Kaczynski, the built environment, The Chicago School, the High Line, Thorstein Veblen, transaction costs
” ■ ■ ■ I never set out to be anti-penny, but somehow it happened, and I now publicly rant whenever possible that the penny should be eliminated. While I stand by my belief that the penny is lousy as currency, someone has finally come up with a use for pennies that has made me reconsider my extinction argument: make a floor out of them! The penny floor can be found at the Standard Grill at the new Standard Hotel in New York, the one straddling the High Line. The Standard tells us that it used 250 pennies per square foot, or 480,000 pennies in all. For those of you thinking about a home renovation, that’s $2.50 per square foot in flooring materials. That stacks up pretty well against glass tile ($25), polished marble ($12), porcelain ($4), or even prefinished walnut ($5). It tells you something about the penny’s uselessness as a currency that, even though it is actual money, it is still cheaper than all these other materials to make a floor out of.
Broken Angels by Richard Morgan
I caught a glimpse of it represented on a series of helix-based transmission visuals, and then it faded, swallowed behind the wall of corporate data security systems and presumably beyond the tracking capacity of the promoter’s much-vaunted software. The green digit counters whirled into frantic, blurred eights. “Told you,” said the promoter, shaking his head judiciously. “High-line screening systems like that, would have cost them a year’s profits just for the installation. And cutting the high line costs, my friends.” “Evidently.” I watched our credit decay like an unprotected antimatter core and quelled a sudden desire to remove the promoter’s throat with my bare hands. It wasn’t really the money; we had plenty of that. Six million saft might have been a poor price for a Wu Morrison shuttle, but it was going to be enough for us to live like kings for the duration of our stay in Landfall.
Advertisers at Work by Tracy Tuten
My ritual is trying to mash things up that don’t belong together, that come from different places, whether it’s literature and advertising, or physical space and theater, or sources of content from different disciplines, or even just the people that you try to interact with and engage. I think good ideas come from collisions. I’ll give you just a simple example, which we’re excited about. Am I talking too much or do you want to hear this? Tuten: No, I want to hear it. Boches: Okay, so I was at Google Zeitgeist,13 privileged to be invited. It was in Phoenix. I sat next to Sandra Day O’Connor.14 I talked to Robert Reich15 and Arianna Huffington.16 I saw the guys who did the High Line17 in New York and Pencils of Promise,18 the inventor of Angry Birds, and all this really, really amazing stuff. Here’s the collision that happened to me. So Robert Reich talks about how the problem in America is that there’s an “us and them” going on, and I’ve used that expression before in some of my presentations—that our communities of concern are getting narrower. Congress doesn’t care really about unemployment because unemployment among college grads is only five percent and they’re closer to college grads than they are to high school dropouts, where unemployment is thirty-five percent.
The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution by Richard Dawkins
agricultural Revolution, Alfred Russel Wallace, complexity theory, delayed gratification, double helix, Drosophila, Haight Ashbury, invention of writing, Louis Pasteur, nuclear winter, out of africa, Peter Singer: altruism, phenotype, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, Steven Pinker, the High Line, urban sprawl
But in 1896 the Illinois State Agricultural Laboratory started breeding for oil content in maize seeds. A 'high line' was selected for increased oil content, and a low line simultaneously selected for decreased oil. Fortunately this experiment has been continued far longer than the research career of any normal scientist, and it is possible to see, over 90 or so generations, an approximately linear increase in oil content in the high line. The low line has decreased its oil content less rapidly, but that is presumably because it is hitting the floor of the graph: you can't have less oil than zero. This experiment, like the Drosophila one and like many others of the same type, brings home the potential power of selection to drive evolutionary change very fast indeed. Translate 90 generations of maize, or 20 generations of Drosophila, even 20 elephant generations, into real time, and you have something that is still negligible on the geological scale.
The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood by James Gleick
Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, bank run, bioinformatics, Brownian motion, butterfly effect, citation needed, Claude Shannon: information theory, clockwork universe, computer age, conceptual framework, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, discovery of DNA, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, en.wikipedia.org, Eratosthenes, Fellow of the Royal Society, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Henri Poincaré, Honoré de Balzac, index card, informal economy, information retrieval, invention of the printing press, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Jaron Lanier, jimmy wales, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Louis Daguerre, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, microbiome, Milgram experiment, Network effects, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, PageRank, pattern recognition, phenotype, pre–internet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Simon Singh, Socratic dialogue, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, stochastic process, talking drums, the High Line, The Wisdom of Crowds, transcontinental railway, Turing machine, Turing test, women in the workforce
After a year she was promoted to the microwave research group, in the former Nabisco building—the “cracker factory”—across West Street from the main building. The group designed tubes on the second floor and built them on the first floor and every so often Claude wandered over to visit. He and Betty began dating in 1948 and married early in 1949. Just then he was the scientist everyone was talking about. THE WEST STREET HEADQUARTERS OF BELL LABORATORIES, WITH TRAINS OF THE HIGH LINE RUNNING THROUGH Few libraries carried The Bell System Technical Journal, so researchers heard about “A Mathematical Theory of Communication” the traditional way, by word of mouth, and obtained copies the traditional way, by writing directly to the author for an offprint. Many scientists used preprinted postcards for such requests, and these arrived in growing volume over the next year. Not everyone understood the paper.
Power at Ground Zero: Politics, Money, and the Remaking of Lower Manhattan by Lynne B. Sagalyn
affirmative action, airport security, Bonfire of the Vanities, clean water, conceptual framework, corporate governance, deindustrialization, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, estate planning, Frank Gehry, Guggenheim Bilbao, high net worth, informal economy, intermodal, iterative process, Jane Jacobs, mortgage debt, New Urbanism, place-making, rent control, Rosa Parks, Silicon Valley, sovereign wealth fund, the built environment, the High Line, time value of money, too big to fail, Torches of Freedom, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, white flight, young professional
The determination to rebuild and recover after 9/11, not only to assure the city’s own position in the global economy but as a statement of national resilience, was resolutely embedded in its public officials, business interests, and citizens. The city’s constant efforts to revive from whatever economic or social depression it was suffering often found expression in economic development projects, real estate visions of economic growth through the rebuilding of city districts: the original World Trade Center complex, Battery Park City, Times Square, Chelsea and the High Line, Hudson Yards on the West Side of midtown Manhattan, all are examples of district transformation. Although these projects reflect a heavy focus on Manhattan, under the Edward I. Koch administration in the 1980s the city adopted an “Other Borough” strategy aimed at stimulating the development of downtown business centers in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. That policy initiative relied on an array of financial incentives (tax abatements, moving allowances, and cut-rate electricity) to make development in these boroughs more competitive, especially with Jersey City, Stamford, Connecticut, and other nearby office centers courting banks, securities firms, and other Manhattan companies.