Central Park in New York City in the fall. A wide path lined with lights and benches, covered by a large tree canopy.

National Links: Olmstead’s 200th Birthday

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.

Olmstead’s 200th birthday: Last Tuesday would have been famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted’s 200th birthday. His thinking on design would change the way we think about urban parks and the restorative nature of green space in urban places. While most know of his most famous work of Central Park in New York City, he designed as part of his practice hundreds of other parks around the country. A new guide features some of these lesser-known spaces. (Nate Berg | Fast Company)

Community input caused the housing crisis: The United States is facing a shortage of 3.8 million homes and many are wondering as housing prices rise how we got here. Jerusalem Demsas believes part of the blame should be placed on community input. While a laudable goal, community input as it’s practiced now is fundamentally flawed because it’s biased towards the status quo and the whims of a particular subset of the population who don’t want change. (Jerusalem Demsas | The Atlantic)

Transportation equity means lowering costs: Owning and operating a motor vehicle is expensive, so much so that in Tampa Florida it can take up 25% of the median wage earner’s income. Part of the reason is that in many cities like Tampa, transit is not a good first choice to reach a destination. To make transportation more equitable, the best way would be to reduce the overall cost and allow people to keep more of their own money. (Skip Descant | Government Technology)

Who rules transit?: TransitCenter has released a new report discussing who runs transit agencies and sits on boards around the United States and how they are not representative of the population they serve. In a sample of 108 board members in 11 cities, TransitCenter found that only 36% were people of color compared to 58% of the population and 63% of transit riders. Geographically, suburban board members are overrepresented as well. (TransitCenter)

Merging cities for the climate: Small municipalities in French-speaking southern Belgium are getting funding from the government to merge with other small municipalities in order to streamline administrative costs. Belgium is offering to take on the municipal debt of cities that merge, giving them more resources to deal with climate change and other important issues. (Denis Balgaranov | The Mayor.eu)

Quote of the Week

“The problem with this narrow obsession is that while Moses may be the paradigmatic racist urban planner, he was certainly no outlier. He has also been dead for forty years, yet urban planning continues in myriad ways the same racially harmful practices of his era.”

Roshan Abraham in The Baffler wondering why we ignore people as neighborhood assets, instead focusing on infrastructure.

This week on the podcast, Frank Markowitz and Leni Schwendinger talk about creating legible nighttime spaces, programming those spaces, and the future of lighting and transportation.

Jeff Wood

About Jeff Wood

Jeff Wood is an urban planner focused on transportation and land use issues living and working in the San Francisco Bay Area. Jeff blogs at The Overhead Wire and tweets @theoverheadwire. He also shares news links daily from around the country on issues related to cities at The Direct Transfer