What we're reading - THE URBAN REVIEW
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What we’re reading

Open City – Teju Cole (read more here)


“‘We experience life as a continuity, and only after it falls away, after it becomes the past, do we see its discontinuities.’ The flâneur has been rightly critiqued from just about every post modern angle possible. While not a full subversion, Teju Cole’s take shows the city and modernity from an idiosyncratic and incomplete angle—both subaltern and not, Western and not, straddling inclusion and exclusion, and searching for an urban life for all of us.” -Timothy Ravis 


Street Fight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution – Janette Sadik-Khan (read more here)


“This book is a colorful and insightful look into the tactical, street transformations of New York City in the last decade. What really brought this book to life was hearing Janette Sadik-Khan talk about this book and her work as transportation commissioner in NYC under Mayor Bloomberg at the GSD! ” -Sarah Zou 


Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families – J. Anthony Lukas (read more here)


“Lukas shares the story of Boston’s busing in the 1960s and 1970s from the perspective of three Boston parents: an African-American single mother in Roxbury, an Irish Catholic single mother in Charlestown, and a Harvard-educated couple moving to the South End. Their lived experiences tell the history of Boston’s neighborhoods, critical to not only any resident of Boston, but anyone seeking to better understand race relations in American cities. Lukas’s own reflection gets to the heart of the book: ‘The realities of urban America, when seen through the lives of actual city dwellers, proved far more complicated than I had imagined.’” -Margaret Haltom 


Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 – John Barry (read more here)


“I regularly return to Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927. It documents the making of the Louisiana delta’s complex water infrastructure system, and how the flood of 1927 not only changed the way we think about top-down infrastructure in the US, but the power dynamics and shifting nodes of contestation that planners must consider when looking at any comprehensive infrastructural system.  It’s also a thrilling read!” – Andy Lee 


Poems as Maps – curated by Taiyon J. Coleman for Places Journal (read more here)


“This a wonderful short, yet emotionally rich series from Places Journal that invites us to read poems as we do maps, whose ‘lines trace and transgress boundaries of identity and experience.’ Highly recommend.” – Alex Rogala 


On Planning the Ideology of Planning – in The Urbanization of Capital by David Harvey (read more here)


“One of the seminal readings in urban planning theory and practice, Harvey traces the limits of the planning profession to the fatalism of the capitalist economic system. He argues that despite good intentions, planners are but handmaidens to power structures and ultimately become a tool in social reproduction. But instead of concluding that the planner is ‘a mere defender of the status quo,” Harvey argues something fundamental. Read to find out what he says!” – Hung Vo


In 83 Million Eviction Records, a Sweeping and Intimate New Look at Housing in America – Emily Badger and Quoc Trung Bui for the New York Times (read more here)


“If you read/heard of Matthew Desmond’s “Evicted” and wondered what patterns of eviction look like outside of Milwaukee, you’ll be interested in this short article (with great visualizations) on eviction data in many more U.S. states, with a spotlight on processes in Richmond, VA.” – Maura Barry-Garland


Solidarity: How to Build Joyful Economies – Yes! Magazine (read more here)


“I have been regularly returning to this collection of stories of “communities full of generous people who are finding ways to lift each other up.” They are inspiring stories and insightful reminders when capitalism has got you down.” – Katie Gourley


How the Other Half Lives: Studies among the Tenements of New York – Jacob Riis (read more here)


“I first learned of Jacob Riis’ work in a high school American History class. Picking up the actual text now as a graduate student, I am still struck by the effectiveness and rigor of his analysis. Riis is first and foremost a journalist and photographer, and his incredible imagery is paired with insightful and thoughtful commentary that would do any contemporary planner or urban designer proud.” – Jeremy Pi


Oosterwold (view here)


“A video and a few pages of English description introduce us to a fascinating new urban project in The Netherlands: Oosterwold. The project, shepherded by Dutch Architecture firm MVRDV, allows for development absent building codes or land use regulations, requiring in exchange that settlers provide themselves what is usually provided public (roads, infrastructure, etc.). Is this is an attempt to build…an anarchist utopia? The ultimate neoliberal enclave? Something entirely different? Is it a flash in the pan or a potential new model of development?” – Stefano Trevisan


The Towers Came Down, and With Them the Promise of Public Housing – Ben Austen for the New York Times Magazine (read more here)


“I found this article on the demolition of Chicago’s Cabrini-Green public housing development compelling because it seamlessly combines on-the-ground storytelling of one family’s experiences with a broad overview of public housing’s history in the United States. The article raises important questions about the future of public housing and the role planners and policymakers play in providing safe, affordable, and decent housing opportunities for all Americans in an era of waning fiscal support for housing authorities, especially at the federal level.” – Matt Genova