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 D.C. region. They are national links, sometimes entertaining and sometimes absurd, but hopefully useful.
The Gentrification font: In changing neighborhoods around the country, newer buildings with modern design are often adorned with building numbers that are in what some are calling the “gentrification font”. The “gentrification font” has been most associated with the Neutraface font, but it also includes many other san serif fonts. In addition to horizontal wood fences, the font has been documented all over social media sites like Instagram. (Bettina Makalintal | Vice)
Performative pedestrian infrastructure: In a world full of cars, most infrastructure labeled “pedestrian” is often just performative in that it was built to allow cars to go faster but doesn’t actually make walking more desirable. Pedestrian overpasses for examples are often described in glowing terms but remove pedestrians from the streets for cars. And the way they are designed to add time to a walking trip would never be allowed on streets by most engineers. (Joe Cortright | Pedestrian Observations)
What equity means to a frequent transit rider: In Houston, Janis Scott is affectionately known as The Bus Lady. Drivers and riders know and love her for advocacy of the transit system. She describes equity in transit as providing basic mobility for all including curb cuts, sidewalks, bus benches, and appropriate lighting. And she chides decision makers that might not understand why those basic pieces of infrastructure matter because they never ride the bus. (Janis Scott | Kinder Institute for Urban Research)
Empty employment centers decimating an office economy: A trillion dollar service industry is in peril as office workers aren’t making smaller purchases at thier places of work. Airlines, coffee shops, and lunch counters all rely on central business districts and office workers to support thier businesses. So while remote work might save on the cost of the commute and office space, it could damage a part of the economy and a “galaxy of businesses” that was built up around them. (Steve LeVine | Marker)
Disability as a social and design phenomenon: Sara Hendren’s new book envisions what it would be like to change the built environment to work with the different body types of differently abled people, instead of changing bodies through prosthetics or other tools. The predominant view of disability is that it is a medical phenomenon, but what if it were seen more as a social one where our rigidly designed world moves away from what it believes to be human norms? (Katy Waldman | The New Yorker)
Quote of the Week
“[Baldwin Street] might be the most COVID-friendly street in the city: big sidewalks, places to spill out onto and a nice backdrop [of residential homes]. That’s what retail in a post-COVID world should look like.”
University of Waterloo Architecture professor Val Rynnimeri in the Globe and Mail discussing how wide sidewalks can be an asset in Toronto’s during the pandemic.
This week on the podcast, Billy Fleming joins the show to talk about the life and legacy of landscape architect Ian McHarg.