“The rent is too damned high.” You hear it on the subway, you hear it on the news, and you hear it exclaimed even by mild-mannered conservationists while perambulating in the park. The rising cost of urban housing is on everyone’s mind, from Mayor Bill de Blasio to the chattering masses of the blogosphere. For … Continue reading The Rent is too Damned High: The Nature of Cities and the Original Gentrification
Forget the damned motor car and build cities for lovers and friends. —Lewis Mumford, My Works and Days (1979) Humanity managed for the better part of 400,000 years without cars and did just fine. Julius Caesar, Michelangelo, William Shakespeare, Adam Smith, and Abraham Lincoln lived in cities and never drove an automobile. They didn’t need … Continue reading Forget the Damned Motor Car
If Thoreau were alive today, he might move to Brooklyn, not the woods. Cities of the early 21st century are where life can be lived most intensely, the place for sucking, routing, shaving, and driving life into the corner, as Thoreau famously described the purpose of his retreat to Walden Pond. Cities are where innovations … Continue reading It’s Up to You: A Vision for 90% Less Greenhouse Gases for Manhattan’s Fourteenth Street
Ecologists who study how ecosystems change over time know there is a balance between resilience and adaptation. Resilience is a measure of how long it takes for an ecosystem to return to a previous state. For example, how many decades will it take for a forest to regrow after a fire? Adaptation is the transformation … Continue reading The Catch-22 of Resilience
The following is an excerpt from my new book, Terra Nova: The New World After Oil, Cars, and Suburbs (Abrams, June 2013), which is about, at least in part, how cities can fit into nature: Many years ago, before I moved to the city, I had a job in the wilderness. I took a summer … Continue reading Cities Are Our Streams
The Strategy of Sanderlings and the Tactics of Terrapins: What Was Hurricane Sandy Trying to Tell New York City?
Like an ancient prophet, armed with forebodings of doom and destruction, Hurricane Sandy bore down on New York City in the early hours of 30 October, 2012. An extra-tropical cyclone, a thousand miles wide and armed with hurricane strength winds, Sandy was only eight days old. A fitful infant terrible, Sandy had already visited havoc … Continue reading The Strategy of Sanderlings and the Tactics of Terrapins: What Was Hurricane Sandy Trying to Tell New York City?
Many entries in this collective blog about the nature of cities will focus your attention on the nature that remains in cities, defined in terms of those patches of semi-natural habitat, the green bits, which are found in all cities, and which can be encouraged or discouraged by human action. Consider for example Celicia Herzog’s … Continue reading Cities of Nature