Planning News and Links, 10.04.07

Planning News and Links, 10.04.07

Greetings, urbanites, have we got some news for you…of the weird, worrisome, and wonderful variety.

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Greetings, urbanites, have we got some news for you…of the weird, worrisome, and wonderful variety.

Rodent City
Just when you were coming terms with the consequences of global warming and embracing the prospect of tropical yuletides, a new study will have you clamoring to trade in your SUV. A report shows rodent populations are on the rise in cities across the US, and climate change is at least partly to blame. Get ready to share your urban hovel with yet another roommate who eats all your food, makes messes, and doesn’t pay bills on time.

Make way for wind turbines in Boston!
Boston’s Tom Menino has become the first mayor to propose putting a wind turbine on the top of City Hall. Not only would this generate 25% of the necessary electricity for the building, it would also symbolize Boston’s dedication to urban sustainability initiatives. City on a hill, anyone?

Urban history, on your cell phone
Have you ever walked through a city and wanted to know more than what the streets and buildings could tell you? Philadelphia now offers a PhillyHistory Mobile service, which is a way to enhance your urban experience through your cell phone. Just type in your coordinates, and the resulting display returns a map of the area showing coordinates for various historic and cultural assets in close proximity, accompanied by photos of those assets.

Charm City reeling from slump in housing market
In spite of the inklings of downtown-driven renaissance in Baltimore, the stagnant housing market is negating the efforts of hopeful city planners. In August, homes sold in the greater Baltimore area had been on the market for 84 days, on average, up from 58 days a year earlier and 44 in 2005. Foreclosures have doubled, and the number of total units sold has declined. For now, construction downtown continues, and the flags welcoming new resident are still waving. However, the mood is somber. Hang on B-more, one of these days you’ll catch a break.

Hold your eulogies: Detroit not dead just yet
It appears that things may be turning around for Motor City. A new Social Compact study indicates that Detroit is doing much better than 2000 census numbers indicated, with a wealthier and more populous core. The study also points to flaws in traditional census reports, which tend to undervalue older urban cities for several reasons, one of them being a bias towards new home construction and a tendency to discount immigrants and intergenerational families. Detroit will no doubt use this report to attract more investment to the city.

Studies show that cupcakes are good for a city’s health
So you think your city is cool. It has a tapas bar, a warehouse doubling as a performance space, and public wifi. But the real way to gauge its hipness is by whether it has a cupcake shop. Spawned in part by the popularity of Greenwich Village’s Magnolia bakery, these adorable shops are springing up across the United States. It’s a clear way for your city to demonstrate its on the cutting edge of cosmopolitanism. Plus, everyone wins. Who doesn’t love a gooey, pint-sized package of sin?

Look, its a Naked Street!
No, its not a hipster art project. Its a new idea hatched by those ever-so pragmatic Dutch. As part of the initiative, streets were stripped of all of their traffic-related signage, including speed limits and red lights. This has resulted in a 60% decrease in pedestrian accidents in the Netherlands and parts of London. Why does this work? Drivers are so confused, they actually slow down.

Last word: Urbanites travel better
As if you needed it, here’s even more proof that you’re cooler than your smug suburban friends. A new survey indicates that urban dwellers really are more adventurous, preferring to vacation in different places every year. They’re also more likely to find out about the culture and history of where they travel. Take that, haters.

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