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“Words on the Street” highlights the best writing on urbanism we’ve encountered this week. Send tips to @NewUrbs.
How Britons Are Saving Their Village Pubs | Geoffrey Wheatcroft, The Spectator
In one village after another across the country, pubs are closing, as many as 25 a week by some counts, and this is accepted with English fatalism. But the people of South Stoke, near Bath, chose not to accept the loss of the Packhorse mutely; the locals decided to save their local. And in the process they may have demonstrated that ‘community’ and indeed ‘local’ or localism are not merely empty rhetoric.
When Will New York City Sink? | Andrew Rice, New York
The latest scientific findings suggest that a child born today in this island metropolis may live to see the waters around it swell by six feet, as the previously hypothetical consequences of global warming take on an escalating — and unstoppable — force. … The life span of a city is measured in centuries, and New York, which is approaching its fifth, probably doesn’t have another five to go, at least in any presently recognizable form. …
The deluge will begin slowly, and irregularly, and so it will confound human perceptions of change. Areas that never had flash floods will start to experience them, in part because global warming will also increase precipitation. High tides will spill over old bulkheads when there is a full moon. People will start carrying galoshes to work. All the commercial skyscrapers, housing, cultural institutions that currently sit near the waterline will be forced to contend with routine inundation. And cataclysmic floods will become more common, because, to put it simply, if the baseline water level is higher, every storm surge will be that much stronger.
Life at the Nowhere Office | Miya Tokumitsu and Joeri Mol, The New Republic
Wherever you are, you respond to the most urgent requests and make sure to nowhere yourself by deleting your “sent from my iPhone” signature. You could be at your desk already, right? No one needs to know that you are two blocks away. You don’t want to convey that you are on the run and not giving them your full attention. So with some digital camouflaging you say: I am in a place where I can give you due consideration. At no point are we on the train, in a cafe, in bed, in the restroom. Except of course we are.
Many of us recognize this morning routine. It might seem mundane, but like any regime, it is has an aesthetic. In fact, this vignette reflects the ideals of het nieuwe werken, a Dutch term meaning “the new way of working,” a reorganization of the office that promotes flexibility and “efficient” design, combining the fruits of a digitally-connected world and organically-formed social structures.
Gentrification on the Big Screen | Aaron M. Renn, City Journal
The Blues Brothers and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, two seminal 1980s comedies, both set in Chicago, foreshadow the profound changes that would soon sweep over some of America’s big cities. Made just six years apart, they present strikingly different visions of Chicago. …
Watching these films today, viewers under the age of, say, 45 would be struck by how alien Jake and Elwood’s Chicago seems and how familiar Ferris’s Chicago has become. The vibrant working-class culture, tough old nuns, SROs, and Maxwell Street Market of The Blues Brothers have all either disappeared or survive only as shadows of what they once were. With a bit of cultural updating to cars, hairstyles, fashion, music, and phones, however, Ferris Bueller’s Day Offcould be remade today, virtually shot for shot. Modern proto-hipsters might well still skip school to visit Wrigley Field, the lakefront, the Sears Tower Skydeck, or the Art Institute. Three decades after Ferris Bueller played hooky from the suburbs, the triumph of the gentrified city is complete.
One City, Nine Months: Stand By For Chicago’s 3,000th Shooting Victim | Editorial Board, Chicago Tribune
Chicago is but a few days away from its 3,000th shooting of the year. At 2,930 and counting as of Labor Day, the first grimly inevitable milestone will be 2,988. That’s the number of people shot here all of last year. Soon after will come No. 3,000.
Tribune crime reporters keep a detailed spreadsheet, which shows 546 shootings since Aug. 1. That works out to be nearly 15 people shot every day — the majority on the West and South sides. Summer is always the most dangerous season in Chicago, but the violence this year is worse than it’s been in two decades. The city’s homicide total: about 500, most of them on this roster of shooting victims.