Archives For The City

 

The Urban Problem of Affordability

A Review of

The Creative Destruction of New York City: Engineering the City For the Elite
Alessandro Busà

Hardcover: Oxford UP, 2017
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

 

Reviewed by Thomas V. Bona

 

When I last visited my native New York City in 2013, I made sure to walk on the High Line. I was stunned at how well the vaunted 1.45-mile greenway on an abandoned rail line on the west side of Manhattan lived up to the hype. Lush vegetation – and did I hear birdsong? – stood out over oceans of urban pavement. A literal park in the sky, it had food, drinks, art installations, and excellent people watching. I never would have explored this part of the city when I was growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, when it was mostly aging industrial buildings, garages, and night clubs. Now it was teeming with life, as were a lot of other neighborhoods. With the “back to the city” trend and the strength of New York’s economy, decades of urban decay and disinvestment were beaten back. There were record numbers of residents, jobs, and tourists. What’s not to like?

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Beyond Suburbia

A Review of

The Embrace of Buildings:
A Second Look at Walkable City Neighborhoods

Lee Hardy

Paperback: Calvin College Press, 2017
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]

 
Review by Erin F. Wasinger
 

When I moved a few years ago, I joked that I only knew my way around the city if all routes started at my front door. I saw my home on the map as if it were the center of a bicycle wheel, each spoke pointing to a different destination: store, church, schools, library. Until I internalized the city’s layout, each trip functioned as if the world revolved around my garage.

Many of us view our environments that way, much to the detriment of communities, Lee Hardy argues in The Embrace of Buildings: A Second Look at Walkable City Neighborhoods. A certain flavor of the American dream envisions a well-manicured lawn in suburbia, a fence separating the yard from the neighbors’. Hardy is as Copernicus, reminding readers that our enclaves aren’t the centers in our individual universes. Instead, he invites us to imagine ourselves orbiting a shared space: our cities.

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A Call for Adventure
 
A Review of 
 

Stay in the City:
How Christian Faith is Flourishing in an Urban World

Mark Gornik / Maria Liu Wong

Paperback: Eerdmans, 2017
Buy Now: [ Amazon
 
Reviewed by Kevin Book-Satterlee
 
 
Stay in the City is one of the most fun, quick, and inspiring little texts on urban mission. Gornik and Wong bring forth small anecdotes to narrate a grand emerging adventure. We often think of adventure as journeying out, into the unknown, but in the city, with all its change, the familiar becomes unkown and recycles back to familiarity once again. This is the adventure of urban mission, the complex intertwining, changing dance with rehearsed steps to developing beats. Staying in the City inspires dance-lessons and improvisation to tell the journey of what God is doing in our cities across the globe.
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Today (September 7th) is the birthday of architect and New Urbanist Andres Duany.  In honor of the occasion, we offer this introductory reading guide to his work, which is essential reading for reflecting on the future of cities.

We’ve ordered this list in the order that we think the books should be read, and we offer a brief explanation of why each book was included. We’ve included excerpts of most the books via Google Books.

Jane Jacobs 101 – 5 Short Videos

 

1)  The Smart Growth Manual

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One of this week’s best new book releases is …
 

Vanishing New York:
How a Great City Lost Its Soul
Jeremiah Moss

Hardback: Dey Street Books, 2017
Buy Now:  [  Amazon ]  [ Kindle  ]
 
 
This is an insightful and provocative book on the future of cities by the creator of the Vanishing New York blog
 

Listen to a great interview that the author did with public radio station WNYC…

(If the embedded player below doesn’t work, CLICK HERE to listen…)
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I recently finished reading Richard Florida’s important book THE NEW URBAN CRISIS. While I didn’t have a chance to write my review this week (watch for it on our website in the next couple of weeks), I thought that this would be a good time to recommend books in a similar vein that should be essential reading for Christians trying to understand the urban places in which they live and/or worship.

This is not an exhaustive list, but it will set readers on an excellent trajectory for understanding urban places. 

  

The New Urban Crisis: How Our Cities Are Increasing Inequality, Deepening Segregation, and Failing the Middle Class—and What We Can Do About It

Richard Florida

Basic Books, 2017
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The Notion of a Liveable City
 
A Review of

Eyes on the Street:
The Life of Jane Jacobs
 

Robert Kanigel

Hardback: Knopf, 2016.
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
 
 
Reviewed by Jeff Crosby
 
 
 
When she was choosing a school for her undergraduate studies a decade ago, New York University in lower Manhattan rose to the top of my daughter’s list of options. The vibrancy of a world-class city, the exposure to the arts and the melting pot of global cultures, and the imprimatur of a diploma from NYU, all lured her to New York.

The cost of her matriculating there for four years and the relative lack of financial aid (apart from the kind that has to be repaid!) prompted me, on the contrary, to suggest that a well-known southern school – a similarly well-endowed but financially generous university in Nashville – just might be the sensible way to go.

NYU and my daughter won.

Financially prudent dad lost.

But really, we both won in the end, for had my daughter not attended New York University I might never have explored Washington Square Park in all the seasons of the year, or partaken of the delightful galleries on Broome Street in SoHo, or the eateries and street music of the cobblestone walkways around Greenwich Village.

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Thoughtful, Committed Citizens Changing the World
 
A Brief Review of 

Battle for Bed-Stuy: The Long War on Poverty in New York City
Michael Woodsworth

Hardback: Harvard UP, 2016
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
 
 
Reviewed by Leslie Klingensmith
 
 
Too often, we learn history as an impersonal set of dates, geographic locations, and the names of the major players.  While those academic facts are important, our collective past can potentially be much more alive to us in the present and, therefore, more helpful as we seek solutions to the social ills that affect us all.  Historical writing is most effective when it is able present people and scenarios from the past in a way that humanizes those who were there and shows us how decisions made “at the top” actually changed the lives of ordinary people.

Michael Woodsworth, in his book Battle for Bed-Stuy:The Long War on Poverty in New York City, makes a credible attempt to look at one community through a period of decades.  He analyzes Bedford-Stuyvesant’s (“Bed-Stuy”) efforts to combat poverty and remain a safe, vibrant, appealing place for people to live.  Battle for Bed-Stuy is especially useful for learning how President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty legislation and its programs played out in a real community populated by people committed to improving their surroundings and their lives.

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One of this week’s best new book releases is:
 

Eyes on the Street:
The Life of Jane Jacobs

Robert Kanigel

Hardback: Knopf, 2016
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [  Kindle ]
 
The author recently was interviewed about the book on WYPR, an NPR affiliate in his hometown of Baltimore.
 

Listen to this interview now:

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One of last week’s most interesting new book releases was this book:
 

Ghetto: The Invention of a Place, the History of an Idea
Mitchell Duneier

Hardback: FSG Books, 2016
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
 
Here’s a great video interview in which the author introduces the book…
 
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