National Links: Boring Company, Autonomous Ruin, and Beneficial Blitz

Every day at The Overhead Wire we collect news about cities and send the links to our email list.  At the end of the week we take some of the most popular stories and post them to Greater Greater Washington, a group blog similar to streets.mn that focuses on urban issues in the DC region.  They are national links, sometimes entertaining and sometimes absurd, but hopefully useful.

Boring Company’s cheap bid: After months of speculation Elon Musk’s Boring Company was awarded the rights to build a transport line between O’Hare airport and Chicago’s central business district. Sources reveal that the cost is expected to be $1B however observers are extremely skeptical of that number, citing existing practice. Musk himself hopes people cheer him on, though if he fails, many of his investors will be out a lot of money as no public money is expected. (The Verge)

Death of a once great city: New York is changing and in this long form piece by Kevin Baker, he argues that it is losing its spirit and becoming a haven for the rich, missing the quirks that made it a place for everyone. (Harper’s Magazine)

The autonomous road to municipal ruin: Cities are highly dependent on revenue generated by vehicles, from registration and parking fees to gas taxes and more. But in a new autonomous future, those sources are likely to dry up as vehicles get safer and have no need to park. Replacing these revenue sources is tough, especially at a time when states are starting to limit the ability of cities to raise fees on these companies the author calls “fundamentally predatory”. (Wired)

Climate change already determining housing decisions: Homebuyers in the United States have been taking climate change seriously even if regulations and rhetoric about the subject are slow to take hold. Home purchasing data shows that home prices in dangerous areas depreciated over a ten year period from 2007 to 2017. It’s tricky though because many homes in dangerous areas are also seen as benefiting from the amenity of location close to water. (Bloomberg)

Did the Blitz benefit London’s long term economy? From September of 1940 to May of 1941, the German Luftwaffe dropped 18,000 tons of ordinance on London in a campaign now known as the Blitz. Looking at data showing where the bombs landed and destroyed urban form in tandem with the areas today with the tallest buildings and most economic activity reveals that many years later the relaxation of codes after the destruction led to economic growth. (Spacial Economics Research Center)

Quote of the Week

“But just as Brits can claim no monopoly on the sun in our low-skied, grey-clouded land, so ancient humans all over the world refashioned their own built environments to mark and celebrate important solar moments in the calendar.”

Justin Marrozzi in The Guardian talking about cities that have been designed around the longest day of the year.

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