A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘philadelphia

[URBAN NOTE] Fifteen urban links

  • It has been forty years since a train derailment that threatened to unleash toxic chemicals on Mississauga resulted in a remarkably successful mass evacuation. CBC reports.
  • There is a Vimy display in Kingston’s Communications and Electronics Museum. Global News reports.
  • It is unsettling that the Ontario city of Hamilton reports such a high levels of hate crimes. CBC reports.
  • Le Devoir shares a warning that inattention to language means that Longueuil could end up becoming as English/French bilingual as the West Island.
  • VICE reports on how the dying desert town of California City is hoping for a revival based on cannabis, here</u.
  • MacLean’s tells the story about how an encounter of koi with local otters in Vancouver reflects a human culture clash, too.
  • SCMP looks at how planners want to use big data to make Shenzhen a “smart socialist” city, here.
  • CityLab hosts an article by Andrew Kenney looking at the importance of an old map of Denver for he, a newcomer to the city.
  • These photos of the recent acqua alta in Venice are heartbreaking. CityLab has them.
  • JSTOR Daily tells the story of an ill-timed parade in 1918 Philadelphia that helped the Spanish flu spread throughout the city.
  • The LRB Blog looks at a corner of Berlin marked by the history of German Southwest Africa.
  • Guardian Cities shares a remarkable ambitious plan to remake Addis Ababa into a global city.
  • Durban, in South Africa, may offer lessons for other southern African metropolises. Guardian Cities reports.
  • The NYR Daily recently took a look at what happened to so completely gentrify the West Village of New York City.
  • Feargus O’Sullivan at CityLab takes a look at a new documentary, If New York Was Called Angouleme. What if the site of New York City was colonized by the French in the early 16th century?

[URBAN NOTE] Six city links: Montréal, New York City, Philadelphia, Istanbul, reserves, Wellington

  • La Presse notes how Montréal is placing limits on new construction, and why.
  • JSTOR Daily looks at how Basquiat interacted with his surroundings in New York City, using them for art.
  • CityLab reports on a study of gentrification and displacement in Philadelphia.
  • Guardian Cities reports on the remarkable speed with which Turkish Airlines shifted to a new airport in Istanbul.
  • This article in The Conversation is entirely right about the importance of Indigenous urban reserves: Why cannot First Nations be as urbanized as other Canadians?
  • Chris Fitch writes at CityLab about how, as part of a new policy, Maori placenames are being introduced (or reintroduced) into the New Zealand capital of Wellington.

[BLOG] Some Sunday links

  • Crooked Timber takes a look at “abusive legalism”.
  • D-Brief looks at unusual Type 1A supernova ASASSN-18bt, which exhibited an odd early burst of light.
  • The Dragon’s Tales reports on a Dutch government report that Russia has developed a new cruise missile in violation of the INF treaty.
  • Drew Ex Machina takes a look at the latest thought on habitable moons.
  • Far Outliers notes how Korean, Taiwanese, and Okinawan prisoners in American prisoner of war camps for Imperial Japanese soldiers distinguished themselves (or not) from their ethnic Japanese counterparts.
  • L.M. Sacasas at The Frailest Thing considers the metaphor of the cave in the digital era. Do data scientists truly understand the online world?
  • JSTOR Daily looks at the different estimates as to the size of the legal cannabis market in Canada.
  • Language Log links to a podcast that takes a look at the Philadelphia dialect of English.
  • Out There makes the argument that Cubesats are perfectly suited to conducting surveys of asteroids.
  • Drew Rowsome reviews the one-man show Obaaberima, performed by Tawiah Ben M’Carthy, currently playing at Buddies in Bad Times.
  • Window on Eurasia notes a demographer’s argument that any future population growth in Russia will need to be driven by immigration.

[URBAN NOTE] Five city links: Oshawa, Philadelphia, London, Pontevedra, Pyongyang

  • Matt Gurney notes at Global News though the end of GM in Oshawa should have been expected, people there are still shocked.
  • Roads and Kingdoms shares a list of ten foodstuffs in Philadelphia that help explain that city.
  • The Guardian explains how London has become a European centre of tuberculosis.
  • CityLab suggests that pedestrianization helped the Spanish city of Pontevedra become very child-friendly.
  • Guardian Cities shares some photos from the North Korean capital of Pyongyang.

[BLOG] Some Saturday links

  • Bad Astronomy shares an image of Hyperion, a proto-supercluster of galaxies literally jawdropping in scope.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly asks an interesting question: Who is your rock, your support? Who is your gravel?
  • Centauri Dreams notes a new paper suggesting a way to determine the size of undetected planets from the sorts of dust that they create.
  • Crooked Timber notes the obvious, that neither China nor the United States would win in a war in the South China Sea.
  • D-Brief ,a href=”http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/d-brief/2018/10/16/ganymede-moon-jupiter-world-tectonic-faults/”&gt;notes that Ganymede, the largest moon of Jupiter and in the solar system, has tectonic faults in its icy crust.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that Russia is interested in cooperating with India in space travel.
  • David Finger at The Finger Post reports on his search for a Philly cheese steak sandwich in Philadelphia.
  • L.M. Sacasas at The Frailest Thing considers the way in which modern social networking creates a totalitarianism, enlisting people through games into supporting its edifice.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that Thailand is preparing to legalize civil unions for same-sex couples.
  • JSTOR Daily notes the 19th century heyday of “mummy brown”, a paint pigment used by artists made of ground-up Egyptian mummies.
  • Language Log notes that the expression “add oil”, originally from Chinese slang, is now in the OED.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes how the lies of Facebook about the popularity on online video dealt a terrible blow to journalism.
  • Lingua Franca examines how the word “smarmy” came about and spread.
  • Marginal Revolution notes the exceptional generosity of actor Chow Yun Fat, who is giving away his vast estate.
  • Hugh Eakin at the NYR Daily takes a look at the role of the United States in mounting repression in Saudi Arabia, symbolized by the Khashoggi killing.
  • Marc Rayman at the Planetary Society Blog looks at the achievements of the Dawn probe, at Ceres and Vesta and the points in between, on this its 11th anniversary.
  • Roads and Kingdoms shares a photo essay looking at the difficult treks of the Rohingya as they are forced to scavenge firewood from a local forest.
  • Drew Rowsome takes a look at the homoerotic photography of James Critchley.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel looks at what it was likely, in the early universe, when starlight became visible for the first time.
  • Frank Jacobs at Strange Maps debunks a map purporting to show post-Fukushima contamination of the entire Pacific, and has it with false and discouraging apocalyptic maps generally.
  • Window on Eurasia takes a look at the deep divide between the Russian and Ukrainian nations.

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • Centauri Dreams notes a paper suggesting that a world without plate tectonics could support Earth-like conditions for up to five billion years.
  • D-Brief notes a paper suggesting that, although geoengineering via sulfate could indeed lower global temperatures, reduced light would also hurt agriculture.
  • Dead Things notes a suggestion that the Americas might have been populated through two prehistoric migration routes, through the continental interior via Beringia and along the “Kelp Route” down the Pacific North American coast.
  • Peter Kaufman, writing at the Everyday Sociology Blog, shares some of the impressive murals and street art of Philadelphia and grounds them in their sociological context.
  • L.M. Sacasas at The Frailest Thing suggests that social media, far from being a way to satisfy the need for human connection and attention in a mass society, creates a less functional solution.
  • Hornet Stories reports that Turkish Radio and Television vows to remain outside of Eurovision so long as this contest includes queer performers like Conchita Wurst (and other queer themes, too, I don’t doubt).
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money reports on a study suggesting that the oratory of Hitler actually did not swing many votes in the direction of the Nazis in the elections of Germany in 1932.
  • Patricia Escarcega at Roads and Kingdoms praises the Mexican breakfast buffet restaurants of Tucson.
  • Arnold Zwicky meditates on the Boules roses of the Village gay of Montréal, Swiss Chalet, and poutine.

[URBAN NOTE] Six city links: California, Toronto, Vancouver, Saint John, LA, NYC, Philadelphia

  • Wired notes a bill proposed at the state level in California to force cities to provide affordable and accessible housing through non-NIMBY zoning.
  • The Toronto and Vancouver housing markets, perhaps uniquely among the markets of Canada’s major cities, are not seeing as much new supply as others. The Globe and Mail reports.
  • The population of Saint John, New Brunswick, has fallen by a quarter since 1971. The city government wants to change this, somehow. Global News notes.
  • VICE reports a new census of homelessness in Los Angeles, amid fears of locals that prior estimates might be undercounts.
  • The mystery of what happened to Princess Pamela, a famous soul food cook whose Harlem restaurant was famous to those in the know, is explored in this thought-provoking essay.
  • At Slate, Annie Risemberg explores how old connections to Liberia and ethnic restaurants helped a corner of southwestern Philadelphia become “Little Africa”, a destination of note for West African immigrants.

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • Larisa Kurtović writes at anthro{dendum} about her experiences, as an anthropologist studying Bosnia and a native Sarajevan, at the time of the trial of Ratko Mladić. Representation in this circumstance was fraught.
  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait looks at the remarkable claim that extragalactic planets have been discovered 3.5 billion light-years away through gravitational lensing and does not find it intrinsically implausible. Centauri Dreams also looks at the background behind the claimed detection of two thousand rogue planets, ranging in mass from the Moon to Jupiter, in a distant galaxy.
  • Dangerous Minds reviews a fantastic-sounding book reviewing girl gangs and bikers in the pulp fiction of mid-20th century English-language literature.
  • Hornet Stories links to the Mattachine Podcast, a new podcast looking at pre-Stonwall LGBTQ history including that relating to the pioneering Mattachine Society.
  • JSTOR Daily notes the substantial evidence that fish can actually be quite smart, certainly smarter than popular stereotypes have them being.
  • Language Hat reports on the existence of a thriving population of speakers of Aramaic now in existence in New Jersey.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the many ways in which the privatization of state businesses have gone astray in the United Kingdom, and suggests that there is conflict between short-term capitalist desires and long-term needs. Renationalization a solution?
  • At Marginal Revolution, Tyler Cowen argues that the prospect of the future financial insolvency of Chicago helps limit the large-scale settlement of wealthy people there, keeping the metropolis relatively affordable.
  • Stephen Baker of The Numerati reflected, on the eve of the Superbowl, on the origins of his fandom with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1963 just before the assassination of JFK.
  • The NYR Daily shares a rational proposal for an Israeli-Palestinian confederation that, alas, will never fly given irrational reality.
  • Seriously Science notes a paper suggesting that Norway rats do, in fact, the reciprocal trade of goods and services.
  • Strange Company notes an unfortunate picnic in Indiana in 1931, where the Simmons family was unexpectedly poisoned by strychnine capsules? Who did it?
  • Window on Eurasia notes a demographers’ observation that, given the age structure and fertility of the Russian population, even with plausible numbers of immigrants the country’s population may never again grow.

[URBAN NOTE] Six cities links: New York City, Philadelphia, Ottawa, Montréal, Halifax, regionalism

  • The Empire State Building is looking for tenants for fifty thousand square feet of retail space. Bloomberg reports.
  • This Jim Saksa article at Slate suggests a win by the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl could really help the mood of that newly up-and-coming metropolis.
  • The stability of the Ottawa economy, along with higher prices in Toronto and Vancouver, is helping that city’s real estate market thrive. The Globe and Mail reports.
  • The thriving tech sector in Montréal is drawing talent to that city internationally, at a time of record low unemployment rates, too. CTV reports.
  • The infamous statue of Edward Cornwallis, founder of Halifax and famous anti-Mi’kmaq racist, has been removed from its central location in a downtown park. CBC reports.
  • Henry Grabar suggests at Slate that the United States’ division into thriving metropoli and struggling smaller cities should not simply be accepted. People, and governments, can choose to make things better.

[URBAN NOTE] “The Mismatch Between Population and Mass Transit In the San Francisco Bay Area”

Geocurrents’ Martin Lewis has a post up that takes a look at population density in the San Francisco Bay Area and its intersections with mass transit. I thought it worthwhile to highlight it given the critical importance of population density in debates on transit in the Greater Toronto Area.

A sound urban system, environmentalists now argue, is characterized by mixed-use, dense, pedestrian-oriented neighborhoods focused around transit stops. Unfortunately, many of the Bay Area’s more thickly inhabited suburbs are not situated near rail lines, increasing their dependence on automobiles. By the same token, neighborhoods around metro and commuter train stations are often marked by relatively low density. Although both market forces and environmental reason call for tightly packed housing in such areas, the anti-intensification, NIMBY (“Not In My Backyard”) movement has forestalled development of this kind.

To demonstrate what might seem to be counter-intuitive assertions, Stanford cartographer Jake Coolidge and I have been working on a visualization scheme to show the relationship between population density and public transportation in the Bay Area. Jake’s maps and graphs are now complete, and are posted here. They focus on the Yellow Line of BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit), which runs from the San Francisco Airport through the city to the far eastern suburbs, and Caltrain, which goes from downtown San Francisco through “the Peninsula” and Silicon Valley to San Jose and beyond. For comparative purposes, paired maps show similar systems located elsewhere in the country, the Orange Line of the Washington D.C. Metro in the case of BART, and the SEPTA Main Line in metropolitan Philadelphia in the case of Caltrain. All four maps show population density in relation to the rail-lines and their stations. Paired graphs indicate the number of persons living within half a mile radius—a reasonable walking distance—of each station on all four lines. (For a complementary analysis of demographic patterns, see the Caltrain HSR Compatibility Blog).

Some interesting patterns are revealed by these maps and graphs. As the first set shows, downtown San Francisco stands out for its density. This pattern, of course, was established well before the construction of the BART line, which dates only to the 1960s. Outside of this restricted area, density in the Bay Area drops off sharply. Even Oakland, supposedly a highly urban area, is not particularly crowded. To the east of Oakland, BART runs through a highly elite, quasi-rural area around Orinda and Lafayette before it enters classical suburbia in Walnut Creek and Concord. Although a few moderately dense developments have sprouted around BART stations in this area, settlement remains relatively thin. Few people walk or even bike to these BART stations, as most are compelled to drive by the distances involved.

The Washington Metro presents some instructive contrasts. Note that much of downtown Washington has relatively few residents; although many people work in the Federal Triangle neighborhood, few live there. The highest density along the Metro’s Orange Line is found not in the District, but rather in “suburban” Arlington, Virginia, especially around the Courthouse station. The strip of land between Rosslyn and Balston presents a nice example of successful urban intensification. When the Metro line was originally opened, Arlington was sleepy, low-rise ‘burb. I lived in the Courthouse area in the late 1980s, and witnessed its rapid transformation into a vibrant urban pocket. A short stroll from the metro-line, Arlington remains as suburban as it ever was, but around each station a walkable urban neighborhood has emerged. The result is a kind of a “bead-city” stretching along the rail-line. Is it odd, I must ask, that northern Virginia has allowed such eco-friendly urban intensification, whereas the supposedly more environmentally aware Bay Area prevents it?

[. . .]

The Philadelphia pattern is quite different. Philadelphia’s high density areas are much more extensive than those of San Francisco, as can be seen on the maps. Density along the BART line in northern San Francisco, however, exceeds that of the inner stretch of the Main Line, as can be seen by comparing the two graphs. The suburban reaches of the Main Line also contrast sharply with the Caltrain Line. Whereas the density trend along the Caltrain corridor is virtually flat, that of the Main Line is steep. Over most of its extent, the Main Line passes through low-density communities characterized by “old wealth” estates. Similar neighborhoods are plentiful to the south of San Francisco, but they tend to be located away from the train tracks, towards the mountains. The one major exception is well-heeled Atherton, situated between Menlo Park and Redwood City. As Atherton’s Caltrain station operates only on weekends, it is not mapped here.

If the environmentalists’ call for a transition to a lower-carbon future is to be realized, population growth should be encouraged around transit stations. In actuality, it has been heavily discouraged in northern California. As this cartographic exercise shows, neighborhoods near the main rail lines of the San Francisco Bay Area have tremendous potential for intensification. Urbanization, in turn, would allow ailing lines, like Caltrain, to return to health.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 24, 2012 at 4:00 am