An Homage to Things

Due to my mostly net-less vacation last week, I am seriously behind on my posting, so there are quite a few excellent (dare I say totally rad?) articles that I know I'm never going to get around to writing about. I have always liked things magazine, so to help clean out my Google Reader, I'm basically going to ape their style. Because I can.

If humanity simply vanished tomorrow, what would happen to our cities? Scientific American thinks that, at least in Manhattan, the subways would quickly fill with water, causing the streets above to buckle, effectively becoming rivers. Why? Apparently the island was once home to 40 different streams, though all water runoff is now diverted underground. “There are places in Manhattan where they’re constantly fighting rising underground rivers that are corroding the tracks. You stand in these pump rooms, and you see an enormous amount of water gushing in. And down there in a little box are these pumps, pumping it away." (via CitySkip)

In other water-related news, a quarter of a small Kansas town was wiped out by an oil-enhanced flood. It's like the Exxon-Valdez in the middle of the Great Plains. Up on the Great Lakes, however, things are clear and blue out at Azkaban, the forlorn perch from which Built Environment Blog surveys the Chicago skyline as one takes in Earth from the moon. Meanwhile, atlas(t) has kicked off its Galleon Trade Edition, planning stops in Mexico, California, and the Phillipines.

Time for a Conscious Urbanism triple shot. A DC blog, Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space, writes about a New York effort to convert schoolyards into public parks / New York's Streetsblog, meanwhile, is writing about London's potential street-decluttering, which sounds an awful lot like what happened Sao Paulo / Speaking of London, the BBC reports that the UK government is planning to allow locals to have a say on where public funds are spent...which, coincidentally, is being modeled after a Brazilian program. / Dickens could not have come up with a better name than Hazel Blears.

In Seattle, urbanism guru Jim Diers laments the city's move away from the more neighborhood-focused way of planning he helped jump-start / Where are the Star Planners?, wonders Robert Goodspeed over on Planetizen's Interchange blog / The LA Times (they had a good week) asks why starchitects are shunning socially-conscious design / Prosper lets loan-seekers join online communities in a rather innovative way.

Speaking of innovative, UC Berkeley journalism professor Paul Grabowicz is developing a video game to help locals learn about the rich history of Oakland's 7th Street jazz and blues club scene. Grabowicz: "Our game defines an important local community and focuses on a very important aspect of that community. In essence, we have used a video game to recreate this community." / With all the recent talk about digital urbanism, I completely forgot to mention Digital Urban, a blog that covers the recreation of the physical world in virtual reality.

Steven Varnelis' blog, "the longest running single-person blog in architecture," has a new feature called Netlab Dispatches / Inhabitat covers the fabulously whimsical Cumulus Light Canopy by Steven Haulenbeek / With its new LED display, the CN tower can be seen over 100 miles away in Rochester, NY (via Architectural Record) / Philly has 60,000 vacant parcels (the highest per capita in the country) / The Tate's Global Cities exhibit features super-high-density urbanity (via Spacing Wire / Cities as Innovation Engines at the CEOs blog / Alive in Baghdad gives voice (and video coverage) to the war zone metropolis' citizens (via WorldChanging.com)

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