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robertogreco : streets   42


who concludes…
"🌴Imagine what LA could do if it tied street enhancement to a comprehensive program of shade creation: widening the sidewalks, undergrounding powerlines, cutting bigger tree wells, planting leafy, drought-resistant trees, + making room for arcades, galleries, + bus shelters.🌳"]

"All you have to do is scoot across a satellite map of the Los Angeles Basin to see the tremendous shade disparity. Leafy neighborhoods are tucked in hillside canyons and built around golf courses. High modernist homes embrace the sun as it flickers through labor-intensive thickets of eucalyptus. Awnings, paseos, and mature ficus trees shade high-end shopping districts. In the oceanfront city of Santa Monica, which has a dedicated municipal tree plan and a staff of public foresters, all 302 bus stops have been outfitted with fixed steel parasols (“blue spots”) that block the sun. 9 Meanwhile, in the Los Angeles flats, there are vast gray expanses — playgrounds, parking lots, and wide roads — with almost no trees. Transit riders bake at unsheltered bus stops. The homeless take refuge in tunnels and under highway overpasses; some chain their tarps and tents to fences on Skid Row and wait out the day in the shadows of buildings across the street.

Shade is often understood as a luxury amenity, lending calm to courtyards and tree-lined boulevards, cooling and obscuring jewel boxes and glass cubes. But as deadly, hundred-degree heatwaves become commonplace, we have to learn to see shade as a civic resource that is shared by all. In the shade, overheated bodies return to equilibrium. Blood circulation improves. People think clearly. They see better. In a physiological sense, they are themselves again. For people vulnerable to heat stress and exhaustion — outdoor workers, the elderly, the homeless — that can be the difference between life and death. Shade is thus an index of inequality, a requirement for public health, and a mandate for urban planners and designers.

A few years back, Los Angeles passed sweeping revisions to the general plan meant to encourage residents to walk, bike, and take more buses and trains. But as Angelenos step out of their cars, they are discovering that many streets offer little relief from the oppressive sunshine. Not everyone has the stamina to wait out the heat at an unprotected bus stop, or the money to duck into an air-conditioned cafe. 11 When we understand shade as a public resource — a kind of infrastructure, even — we can have better discussions about how to create it and distribute it fairly.

Yet cultural values complicate the provision of shade. Los Angeles is a low-rise city whose residents prize open air and sunshine. 12 They show up at planning meetings to protest tall buildings that would block views or darken sunbathing decks, and police urge residents in high-crime neighborhoods to cut down trees that hide drug dealing and prostitution. Shade trees are designed out of parks to discourage loitering and turf wars, and designed off streets where traffic engineers demand wide lanes and high visibility. Diffuse sunlight is rare in many parts of Los Angeles. You might trace this back to a cultural obsession with shadows and spotlights, drawing a line from Hollywood noir — in which long shadows and unlit corners represent the criminal underworld — to the contemporary politics of surveillance. 13 The light reveals what hides in the dark.

When I think of Los Angeles, I picture Glendale Boulevard in Atwater Village, a streetcar suburb converted into a ten-lane automobile moonscape. People say they like this street for its wall of low-slung, pre-war storefronts, home to record stores and restaurants. To me, it’s a never-ending, vertiginous tunnel of light. I squint to avoid the glare from the white stucco walls, bare pavement, and car windows. From a climate perspective, bright surfaces are good; they absorb fewer sun rays and lessen the urban heat-island effect. But on an unshaded street they can also concentrate and intensify local sunlight."

"At one time, they did. “Shade was integral, and incorporated into the urban design of southern California up until the 1930s,” Davis said. “If you go to most of the older agricultural towns … the downtown streets were arcaded. They had the equivalent of awnings over the sidewalk.” Rancho homes had sleeping porches and shade trees, and buildings were oriented to keep their occupants cool. The original settlement of Los Angeles conformed roughly to the Law of the Indies, a royal ordinance that required streets to be laid out at a 45-degree angle, ensuring access to sun in the winter and shade in the summer. Spanish adobes were built around a central courtyard cooled by awnings and plants. 15 As the city grew, the California bungalow — a low, rectangular house, with wide eaves, inspired by British Indian hill stations — became popular with the middle class. “During the 1920s, they were actually prefabricated in factories,” Davis said. “There are tens of thousands of bungalows, particularly along the Alameda corridor … that were manufactured by Pacific Ready-Cut Homes, which advertised itself as the Henry Ford of home construction.” 16

All that changed with the advent of cheap electricity. In 1936, the Los Angeles Bureau of Power and Light completed a 266-mile high-voltage transmission line from Boulder Dam (now Hoover Dam), which could supply 70 percent of the city’s power at low cost. Southern Californians bought mass-produced housing with electric heating and air conditioning. By the end of World War II, there were nearly 4 million people living in Los Angeles County, and the new neighborhoods were organized around driveways and parking lots. Parts of the city, Davis said, became “virtually treeless deserts.”"

"It’s easy to see how this hostile design reflected the values of the peak automobile era, but there is more going on here. The destruction of urban refuge was part of a long-term strategy to discourage gay cruising, drug use, and other “shady” activities downtown. In 1964, business owners sponsored another redesign that was intended, in the hyperbolic words of the Los Angeles Times, to finally clear out the “deviates and criminals.” The city removed the perimeter benches and culled even more palms and shade trees, so that office workers and shoppers could move through the park without being “accosted by derelicts and ‘bums.’” Sunlight was weaponized. “Before long, pedestrians will be walking through, instead of avoiding, Pershing Square,” the Times declared. “And that is why parks are built.” 19"

"High-concept architecture is one way to transform the shadescape of Los Angeles. Street trees are another. Unfortunately, the city’s most ubiquitous tree — the iconic Washington robusta, or Mexican fan palm — is about as useful in that respect as a telephone pole.

Palm trees have been identified with southern California since 1893, when Canary Island date palms — the fatter, stouter cousin — were displayed at the Chicago World’s Fair. On the trunk of one of those palms, boosters posted the daily temperatures at a San Diego beach, and the tree itself came to stand for “sunshine and soft air.” In his indispensable history, Trees in Paradise, Jared Farmer traces the palm’s transformation from a symbol of a healthy climate to a symbol of glamour, via its association with Hollywood. 26

Despite that early fame, palm trees did not really take over Los Angeles until the 1930s, when a citywide program set tens of thousands of palms along new or recently expanded roads. They were the ideal tree for an automobile landscape. Hardy, cheap, and able to grow anywhere, palm trees are basically weeds. Their shallow roots curl up into a ball, so they can be plugged into small pavement cuts without entangling underground sewer and water mains or buckling sidewalks. As Farmer puts it, palms are “symbiotic infrastructure,” beautifying the city without making a mess. Plus, as Mary Pickford once pointed out, the slender trunks don’t block the view of storefronts, which makes them ideal for window-shopping from the driver’s seat. The city’s first forester, L. Glenn Hall, planted more than 25,000 palm trees in 1931 alone. 27

Hall’s vision, though, was more ambitious than that. He planned to landscape all of Los Angeles’s roads with 1.2 million street trees. Tall palms, like Washingtonia robusta, would go on major thoroughfares, and side streets would be lined with elm, pine, red maple, liquidambar, ash, and sycamore. A Depression-era stimulus package provided enough funds to employ 400 men for six months. But the forestry department put the burden of watering and maintenance on property owners, and soon it charged for cutting new tree wells, too. Owners weren’t interested. So Hall concentrated his efforts on the 28 major boulevards that would serve the 1932 Olympics — including the now-iconic Ventura, Wilshire, Figueroa, Vermont, Western, and Crenshaw — and committed the city to pay for five years of tree maintenance. That may well have bankrupted the tree planting program, and before long the city was urging property owners to take on all costs, including the trees themselves.

This history partly explains the shade disparity in Los Angeles today. Consider the physical dimensions of a major city street in Hall’s time. Between the expanding road and narrowing sidewalks was an open strip of grass, three to ten feet wide, known as the parkway. Having rejected a comprehensive parks system, Los Angeles relied on these roadside strips to plant its urban forest, but over time the parkways were diminished by various agencies in the name of civic improvements — chiefly, road widening. 29 And the stewardship of these spaces was always ambiguous. The parkways are public land, owned and regulated by the … [more]
losangeles  trees  shade  history  palmtrees  urbanplanning  electricity  inequality  2019  sambloch  mikedavis  urban  urbanism  cars  transportation  disparity  streets  values  culture  pedestrians  walking  heat  light  socal  california  design  landscape  wealth  sidewalks  publictransit  transit  privacy  reynerbanham  surveillance  sun  sunshine  climatechange  sustainability  energy  ericgarcetti  antoniovillaraigosa  environment  realestate  law  legal  cities  civics 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Street Naming Controversy--1909 - FoundSF
"The commission sought to address the confusion of numbered streets in the established area of the city versus the numbered avenues in the growing sections west of the cemeteries and the sparsely populated southern section of the city designated as "avenues, south." They worked at finding distinct names for all the numbered or lettered streets. In the Richmond and Sunset districts they devised a full set of Spanish names to conform to an alphabetical pattern for each of the numbered avenues. The scheme called for First Avenue to become Arguello, Second Avenue to become Borcia, Third Avenue to become Coronado, continuing for all 26 letters of the alphabet. Starting with Twenty-seventh Avenue, the streets would be designated by male or female saints, starting with San Antonio and ending with Santa Ynez at Forty-Seventh Avenue. Unable to find Spanish saints with names beginning with K, Q, W, X or Z, they chose first Alcatraz, then Ayala for Forty-eighth Avenue and La Playa for Forty-ninth Avenue.

For the east-west streets in these neighborhoods that were lettered, two breaks in the alphabetical pattern were already in place. "D" Street had already been made an extension of Fulton Street from downtown and the development of Golden Gate Park had eliminated streets bearing the letters E, F and G over thirty years previously. Since there were three minor streets named for Lincoln, the commission wanted to change the names of those streets and rename "H" Street to honor President Lincoln with the more prestigious thoroughfare that bordered the park. The commission then chose eight names for the remaining streets in the Sunset District as Ignacio, Joaquin, Kaweah, Linares, Moncado, Noriega, Ortega and Pacheco. They had only to name the first eight streets, because the Parkside Realty Company had already been using the last eight names, Quintara, Rivera, Santiago, Taraval, Ulloa, Vicente, Wawona and Xavier streets for the area it was developing. In the Bayview District in the southeast corner of the city, an alphabetical sequence of names commemorating patriotic military or civic heroes were suggested for both the numbered avenues and lettered streets.

When the San Francisco Chronicle first published Charles Murdock's ideas of changing the numbered avenues to names a year earlier on October 4, 1908, there was no notice taken by the neighborhood newspapers. The suggestion was speculative and suggested names of explorers, generals or statesmen for avenues in the Richmond, Sunset and Bayview. On November 8, 1909, the Commission on the Changing of Street Names submitted its suggested changes to the Board of Supervisors for first reading and it got an immediate reaction. All the daily newspapers showed full support for the changes. The Examiner published the entire list for all the public to read. The Call's editorial said, "some of the suggested Spanish names may be a little difficult of negotiation by the American tongue" but suggested that the city schools could address that problem as part of the history curriculum.

Topsy-Turvy Town

The Chronicle showed its support with the argument that "if we are ever to emulate our enterprising neighbor, Los Angeles, in attractiveness" employing "musical Spanish names which our history entitles us to appropriate" might even bring in tourist dollars to San Francisco. Despite the positive spin given by the newspapers, the idea of changing all the numbered avenues in the Richmond and Sunset Districts to Spanish names brought immediate negative reaction from the residents of those neighborhoods. Yet when the Board of Supervisors met one week later to address the street-naming issue, the two offended western neighborhoods argued that the names were so repugnant that if approved the "avenues" would forever be known as "Spanish Town." The Spanish "heroes" were vilified as robbers and freebooters and Spain was called "one of the worst nations that ever tyrannized over the human race." There were comical attempts at saying the "unpronounceable" names of Xavier and Ximenes.

Despite the heated rhetoric, the Board voted twelve to five in favor of the changes, and over 250 street names were altered as recommended. When this news got back to the Richmond and Sunset districts, action was immediate. The Richmond had the oldest continuously operating neighborhood improvement club in the city and had been fighting the downtown bureaucracy for years to get services. They were politically savvy and would not tolerate being treated like squatters out in the sand dunes. Since the earthquake and fire, the district had experienced tremendous growth, and most of the new residents were homeowners. They were a force to be reckoned with. The neighborhood newspaper, The Richmond Banner, editorialized on November 19: "If the wishes of the twelve of our "patriotic" supervisors are carried out, our Sunset and Richmond districts will soon be known as the Spanish Town of San Francisco, and 'The Spanish will then have taken San Francisco' notwithstanding Dewey's victory at Manila Bay several years ago."

The editorial contrasted the twelve who voted for the name changes against the five "true Americans" who resisted the proposal to "Spaniardize" the districts. "The people of Sunset and Richmond are fully aroused and will never submit to the insult and injustice heaped upon them by the majority of the Board of Supervisors." In closing, the editor pledged, "Sunset and Richmond districts will stand together and fight this miserable surrender of American names to a finish." The districts didn't have much time to "fight." The commission was to decide quickly, since it faced dissolution at the end of December and the new P. H. McCarthy administration, which would take office in January, had a labor agenda and may not want to waste time on frivolous street-naming. A week of public and private meetings in the Richmond and Sunset districts brought results. Lobbying and pressuring of public officials brought the naming commissioners to a special Saturday meeting to hear the concerns of the neighborhoods.

The following morning the Examiner reported that "thirty-five thousand residents of the Richmond and Sunset districts arose en masse yesterday and voiced such a protest against having the names of their avenues and cross streets changed, that the commission was forced to capitulate." Bowing to the pressure, the Commission agreed that the avenues could remain unchanged except for First Avenue and Forty-ninth Avenue and the alphabetical cross-streets would be the only other western district streets to be renamed, except for the Geary Street extension. The name of Point Lobos was removed from most of the Richmond, but would be given to the curving road that extended from Fortieth Avenue to the Cliff House.

The indignation rally scheduled for the next afternoon at Richmond Hall was turned into a huge victory party for the Richmond, but was bittersweet for the Sunset. Neither neighborhood would lose its numbered avenues, but there was still the issue of the un-American streets to deal with. The Sunset District felt it wasn't getting a fair shake, since it had sixteen streets to be renamed while the Richmond only had three. At the Board of Supervisors' meeting on the next day, the spokesmen for the Sunset Improvement Club presented the argument and pleaded for names of Americans "that reflect glory and luster upon our civilization." Additional speakers made it clear that the two western neighborhoods, through their efforts in fighting the attempt to make wholesale changes to their numerical avenues, were now unified and supporting each other for the next round.

The Board essentially had thrown the street naming to the neighborhoods. The historian from the commission, who had championed and researched the names of Spanish explorers and pioneers, was so incensed by the compromise that he resigned to protest the capitulation. Now the horse-trading for street names was on. Anza had true historical significance to San Francisco's origins and was agreed to by all. "B" Street became an extension of Turk Street. "C" Street was Starr King for a while, but they kept alphabetical order and settled on Custer, for the "hero" killed at the Battle of Little Big Horn. Lincoln Way met with everyone's approval. Ignacio remained on the list at first reading, rejecting Irving for fear of confusion with Irwin Street.

John Jay, statesmen and first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, was decided upon for the next street in the alphabetical sequence. Two American generals, Kirkham and Lawton, were chosen next. Moraga seemed acceptable to the residents because he'd been Anza's lieutenant and first commander of the Presidio. Noriega had been a commander of the Monterey Presidio so that seemed close enough to stave off local opposition. Ortega, as a scout who was credited with the discovery of San Francisco Bay, relaying the news to Portola, made him a logical choice for a street name. Pacheco, while only a foot soldier in the Anza expedition, at least had stayed on as an early settler in the area.

The remaining names had been chosen by the powerful Parkside Realty Company and were already in use, but one name was objected to. Xavier had been a source of pronunciation controversy, so it was decided to break the alphabetical pattern and move to the next letter. Yorba had been a sergeant in Portola's expedition of 1769, and with those credentials, was a better choice to be honored with a street name. First Avenue's new name was unsettled between Arguello and St. Francis Boulevard. La Playa, Spanish for "the beach," was adopted without "avenue." Before the Board met on November 29 for final reading, some negotiation had taken place in the commission because Balboa and Cabrillo had been restored and Irving and Judah, originally proposed for the Bayview District, were substituted now for Sunset District streets. The Sunset had stood its ground and settled for Lincoln Way and four "American" names for streets "I" through "L."

There was no more … [more]
sanfrancisco  1909  streets  names  naming  richmonddistrict  sunsetdistrict  spanish  español  roads  bayview  hunter'spoint  religion  nationalism  classideas 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Futuristic straddling bus allows cars running underneath - YouTube
"Tired of traffic jams and tail gas? The design of electric "straddling buses" lets cars drive underneath them, and can help reduce air pollution. Also known as land airbus, the new invention is less costly than subway systems."

via: ]

[See also:
"China's elevated bus: Futuristic 'straddling bus' hits the road"

"China finally built an elevated bus that straddles traffic and it's totally bizarre"

"Everything That Makes China's New Traffic-Straddling Bus So Fascinating" ]
buses  transportation  china  publicstransit  masstransit  streets  2016 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Great Explorations: The Country Lanes Of Glen Park | Hoodline
"In Cool Gray City of Love, local author Gary Kamiya declares that “... Glen Park now holds the James Taylor title as Country Road Capital of San Francisco.” Sure enough, a trip to the neighborhood reveals three dusty roads—Poppy Lane, Penny Lane and Ohlone Way—snaking their way through the middle of the city, paying no heed to the hard-edged urban landscape around them.

Surfaced with loose gravel, dirt, vegetation and pine needles, these soft streets sneak between back yards, their boundaries defined by leaning fences and lush flowering bushes. If it wasn't for the occasional honking horn or the distant rumble of BART, you'd swear you were wandering the countryside.

Evelyn Rose, chair and founder of the award-winning Glen Park Neighborhoods History Project, tells us that these lanes were originally constructed as carriageways. Walking along Ohlone Way, you'll see a few of the old carriage houses lining the path, and half expect a horse to come trotting around the bend.

Poppy Lane, the longest of the three roads, spans both sides of Diamond Street, beginning at Conrad Street and dead-ending into a wild brush above Bemis Street on a steep hillside overlooking the city. Trees arch over the rough road as it rolls along. A scattering of garages face the lane allowing for limited local vehicle access.

East of Diamond Street between Sussex and Surrey streets, Penny Lane meanders along the hillside framed by bougainvillea, wild roses and nasturtium - a veritable butterfly heaven. Backyard gates line the road, ready to open onto this linear paradise. After about 200 yards, the road ends and a landscaped stairway steps down to Surrey Street, a project designed and constructed by neighborhood residents.

According to a history of the lanes compiled by Ms. Rose, Ohlone Way remained nameless until 1992. An adjacent property owner cleared the brush that had accumulated in the alley and spearheaded an effort to name the passageway after the Native Americans who had once lived in the Bay Area. Ohlone Way is very narrow—about 13 feet wide—and with a steep slope to Sussex Street, vehicle access is strongly discouraged.

The unpaved roads are shown on maps and marked with street signs. All of these streets, totaling one-half mile, are owned but not maintained by the city. The Department of Public Works calls them "unaccepted streets" because these rights-of-ways do not meet city standards for street construction. Your first instinct might be to feel sorry for these remnants of the past that have been excluded from the official public road network, but they are cared for by adjacent property owners.

San Francisco Public Works tells us there are approximately 1,017 miles of streets in the city and approximately 869 of those miles are "accepted streets," maintained by the department. "Paper streets," those that are planned but not yet developed, are included in the total mileage of city streets. Found in such places as Hunters Point, Treasure Island and Yerba Buena Island, paper streets will likely be added to the list of accepted streets once they are constructed.

There is no official city inventory of natural surface streets, but there are more out there, hiding among their paved cousins, waiting for you to discover them."

[See post for images.

See also: ]
sanfrancisco  glenpark  streets  roads  history  classideas 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Root force: unstoppable urban trees – in pictures | Cities | The Guardian
"Some urban trees won’t be hemmed in by walls, pavements or concrete, their roots slowly working their way into the very structure of the city"
trees  roots  2015  cities  urban  streets  pavement  concrete 
december 2015 by robertogreco
BLDGBLOG: Ghost Streets of Los Angeles
"In a short story called "Reports of Certain Events in London" by China Miéville—a text often cited here on BLDGBLOG—we read about a spectral network of streets that appear and disappear around London like the static of a radio tuned between stations, old roadways that are neither here nor there, flickering on and off in the dead hours of the night.

For reasons mostly related to a bank heist described in my book, A Burglar's Guide to the City, I found myself looking at a lot of aerial shots of Los Angeles—specifically the area between West Hollywood and Sunset Boulevard—when I noticed this weird diagonal line cutting through the neighborhood.


It is not a street—although it obviously started off as a street. In fact, parts of it today are still called Marshfield Way.

At times, however, it's just an alleyway behind other buildings, or even just a narrow parking lot tucked in at the edge of someone else's property line.


Other times, it actually takes on solidity and mass in the form of oddly skewed, diagonal slashes of houses.

The buildings that fill it look more like scar tissue, bubbling up to cover a void left behind by something else's absence.


First of all, I love the idea that the buildings seen here take their form from a lost street—that an old throughway since scrubbed from the surface of Los Angeles has reappeared in the form of contemporary architectural space.

That is, someone's living room is actually shaped the way it is not because of something peculiar to architectural history, but because of a ghost street, or the wall of perhaps your very own bedroom takes its angle from a right of way that, for whatever reason, long ago disappeared.


If you follow this thing from roughly the intersection of Hollywood & La Brea to the strangely cleaved back of an apartment building on Ogden Drive—the void left by this lost street, incredibly, now takes the form of a private swimming pool—these buildings seem to plow through the neighborhood like train cars.

Which could also be quite appropriate, as this superficial wound on the skin of the city is most likely a former streetcar route.

But who knows: my own research went no deeper than an abandoned Google search, and I was actually more curious what other people thought this might be or what they've experienced here, assuming at least someone in the world reading this post someday might live or work in one of these buildings.


And perhaps this is just the exact same point, repeated, but the notion that every city has these deeper wounds and removals that nonetheless never disappear is just incredible to me. You cut something out—and it becomes a building a generation later. You remove an entire street—and it becomes someone's living room.

I remember first learning that one of the auditoriums at the Barbican Art Centre in London is shaped the way it is because it was built inside a former WWII bomb crater, and simply reeling at the notion that all of these negative spaces left scattered and invisible around the city could take on architectural form.

Like ghosts appearing out of nowhere—or like China Miéville's fluttering half-streets, conjured out of the urban injuries we all live within and too easily mistake for property lines and real estate, amidst architectural incisions that someday become swimming pools and parking lots.

*Update* Some further "ghost streets" have popped up in the comments here, and the images are worth posting.


The one seen above, for example, is "another ghost diagonal that begins on 8th St. at Hobart, and ends at Pico and Rimpau," an anonymous commenter explains.

Another example, seen below—


—is "a block in the Pico-Robertson area," a commenter writes:
I lived there as a teenager, but never noticed the two diagonals until I looked at it with google maps. There are some lots on the west side of the next two blocks north which also have diagonals. And if you continue north across Pico Blvd, you can see diagonal property lines around St. Mary Magdalene Catholic School and the church.

Thanks for all the tips, and by all means keep them coming, if you are aware of other sites like this, whether in Los Angeles or further afield; and be sure to read through the comments for more.

*Second Update* The examples keep coming. A commenter named Lance Morris explains that he did an MFA project "about this very thing, but in Long Beach. There's a long diagonal scar running from Long Beach Blvd and Willow all the way down to Belmont Shore. I tried walking as closely to the line as I could and GPS tracked the results. There are even 2 areas where you can still see tracks!"

This inspired me to look around the area a little bit on Google Maps, which led to another place nearby, as seen below.


Again, seeing how these local building forms have been generated by the outlines of a missing street or streetcar line is pretty astonishing.

Further, the tiniest indicators of these lost throughways remain visible from above, usually in the form of triangular building cuts or geometrically odd storage yards and parking lots. Because they all align—like some strange industrial ley line—you can deduce that an older piece of transportation infrastructure is now missing.


Indeed, if you zoom out from there in the map, you'll see that the subtle diagonal line cutting across the above image (from the lower left to the upper right) is, in fact, an old rail right of way that leads from the shore further inland.

To give a sense of how incredibly subtle some of these signs can be, the diagonal fence seen in the below screen grab—


—is actually shaped that way not because of some quirk of the local storage lot manager, but because it follows this lost right of way."
losangeles  urban  architecture  cities  chinamieville  streets  seams  scars  landscape  2015  geoffmanaugh  bldgblog 
december 2015 by robertogreco
How straight or bendy are the roads?
"Where in the world has the straightest roads?

Using OpenStreetMap (OSM) data, I was able to see how bendy or straight the roads are all over the world. One theory I had was that Europe, where current roads are based on older roads that predate cars, would have more bends and curves than the USA, where current roads were (in many places) only put in in the last 150 → 100 years, and probably put in directly and dead straight.

[embedded map]

The Mid-west USA and Canadian prairies have the most straight roads. Nearly all of the roads there are straight. This broadly matches my theory.

Netherlands is very straight, but I'm not sure if that's because the Netherlands is just very flat, or due to the "way splitting" inaccuracy incorrectly reporting it as straight.

Measure the bendyness of a road

For all the highway's in OpenStreetMap, the 'bendyness ratio' is calculated as the length of the road divided by the straight line difference between it's end points. A dead straight road will have a ratio of 1.0, and the more bendy the road, the higher the ratio.

The I split the world into little boxes, and measured all the roads that were within that box. A road was considered 'straight' if the ratio was below 1.001, so this includes dead straight, and almost straight roads. The percentage of roads in the box which were straight (weighted by how long the road is), is considered the bendyness of that box. That's the colour in the above map.

Flaws and inaccuracies with this approach


Obvious one: OpenStreetMap is not complete yet, and is missing many roads that exist in the real world.

Roads in many boxes

In order to speed up the SQL query, it counts the enterity of a way (incl it's ratio) in the bbox's results if any part of the way is in the bbox. This means a very long way that passed through 2 (or more) bboxes will be counted twice.

Roads split into 2

It treats each single way element as a different road. If a way is split (into 2 ways) these will then count separately and one road that's very bendy, will appear as several less bendy roads. (e.g.: this way ). As an extreme example of this '2 element' ways, which will obviously count as perfectly straight roads. Ways in OSM are often split, not because they are separate roads, but due to how OSM stores data. To solve this, one needs a way to merge connecting ways together.

One approach to merge ways together to get 'real roads', is to merge ways whose endpoints touch if they have the same 'ref'. The ref(erence) of a road (e.g. "N1"), will often show you what is the "natural course of the road", as decided by local planners. Refs, unlike names, often have very little symbolic or sentimental connection, so local road planners are able to assign them much more freely, giving more accurate results. Here in Ireland, it's not uncommon for one long 'real road' to change names at arbitrary junctions.

Source code

The source code I used to generate is on Github: openstreetmap-bendy-roads.

Tools used

I used Osmosis to extract and slim down the original OpenStreetMap planet dump, and imported that into PostGIS with osm2pgsql. I used my own python script to create (in postgres) a new table with the results. Initially I used Quantum GIS (aka QGis) to explore the results, pick the right metric to use, and generate the colour scheme and how to split the data. The boxes were split using Jenks natural breaks classification method. After I had the right data to display, TileMill (which uses Mapnik) was used to generate the tiles in a MBTiles format. I used mbutil (again from MapBox) to split that mbtiles file into directory of tile images that can be uploaded to a dumb web server. The map on this page uses Leaflet to display on this page."
maps  mpping  data  osm  openstreetmap  streets  curves  rorymccann  2013 
june 2015 by robertogreco
The Street’s Secret Code — re:form — Medium
"What asphalt tags say about the city

We’re often told that urban streets conceal a hidden subterranean world of water mains, sewer lines, electrical wiring, and more. But the surface of the urban roadway — the blacktop that we navigate each day by car, bike, and foot — presents a complex world of its own. Where the untrained eye may see only pavement, lane markers, and crosswalks, a person who knows how to “read the street” will see painted codes and symbols, markings on manhole covers and storm drains, and small but telling records of construction work, all of which combine to form a language that tells the street’s story.

In New York, where I happen to live, that language includes a particularly intriguing element: a series of circular plastic markers embedded in the roadway, each measuring an inch and a half across. Appearing in a variety of colors and stamped with a jumble of words and numbers, they have a bit of Pop Art feel, sort of like poker chips. Once you start noticing them, you can’t stop — they appear on virtually every block. At first glance they seem to be randomly distributed, but upon closer inspection it becomes apparent that they appear only on asphalt patches — spots where the roadway has been torn up by a utility or contractor and then repaved.

These markers are called A-tags (short for asphalt tags). They’re more commonly used in other municipalities as “Call Before You Dig” warning markers, but in New York they’ve been adapted to create a recordkeeping and accountability system. When a utility or contractor is issued a permit to excavate a hole or trench in the roadway — something that happens about 280,000 times a year in New York — the asphalt patch that’s applied at the end of the job must include an embedded A-tag. Each tag has three anchor legs, which, along with a bit of epoxy, help keep the tag in place. The number at the center of the tag indicates the year of the job (“12" for 2012, “14" for 2014, etc.), each broad contracting category has its own color, and each individual contractor or utility is identified either by name or by a unique five-digit number. All of this allows city officials to identify who worked on a given patch, which comes in handy if, say, the patch is starting to sink or buckle and the contractor needs to come back and fix it, or if someone is suing the city after a street-related accident and wants to know the names of everyone who worked on a particular block in the past five years."
asphalt  glyphs  marking  streets  urban  nyc  urbanism  codes  infrastructure  a-tags 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Fact Check: The Squeaky Wheel Approach to Pothole Repairs | Voice of San Diego
"Let’s take a closer look at the data. The district with the fewest potholes filled last year was District 9, which includes City Heights. City Heights is an old neighborhood, which means it likely had a good share of potholes to fix. Yet, District 6 had six times more pothole repairs than District 9 last year. The key factor here is the likely difference between the number of actual potholes and the number of pothole complaints.

For whatever reason, there were likely a lot fewer pothole complaints in City Heights than Clairemont. Clairemont was probably a squeakier wheel, and it got the city’s grease.

Repairing potholes based on complaints struck city auditors as inefficient and unfair. In a report issued last year, auditors determined that fixing potholes proactively by neighborhood would save time and money, patch more potholes and ensure that communities across the city were treated more equitably.

The city still uses complaints to determine where potholes need to be fixed. But pothole repair crews now also drive to different neighborhoods in the city and fix the ones they see, too. The city publicizes where the pothole repair crews will be every day.

Assuming the city’s new system worked, this year’s data should show fewer disparities among Council districts.

If you disagree with our determination or analysis, please express your thoughts in the comments section of this blog post. Explain your reasoning."
cityheights  sandiego  streets  politics  policy  inequality  2014  clairemont  repairs  class 
may 2014 by robertogreco
"In a near future heavily influenced by the imminent boom of the Indian subcontinent, an emerging technology and economic superpower a new digital city has developed. The film follows a group of young children as they play a game of hide and seek (Chupan Chupai) in the bustling streets of this smart city. Through their play the children discover how to hack the city, opening up a cavernous network of hidden and forgotten spaces, behind the scenes of everyday streets.

The narrative of piece focuses on how the children interact with their built environment, we explore the smart city through the device of the classic children's game. The design of the future city fuses technology and built matter as one programmable environment. Using gestures and signs as a language, the project takes the concept of gesture based control to the level where we can interact and control all elements of the built environment, creating a symbiosis between technology and the city. The film splits the physical architecture of the city into two categories; the synthesised lived in city, and its organic wild undergrowth.

The project was shot on location in India and uses a mixture of animation and visual effects to embellish the design of the city and locations that are pictured.

Based on a short story by Tim Maly
Produced by Liam Young"

[See also: ]
[Interview: ]
timmaly  sciencefiction  scifi  2014  film  video  jodhpur  india  hideandseek  children  interface  design  technology  play  gestures  cities  cityasclassroom  thecityishereforyoutouse  architecture  ux  smartcity  smartcities  urban  urbanism  streets  streetgames  games  builtenvironment  liamyoung  factoryfifteen  speculativefiction  jaipur  cherrapunjee 
february 2014 by robertogreco
Decoding The City: Infrastructural Graffiti | Design Decoded
"Cities around the world are covered in spray-painted hieroglyphics and cryptic designations scrawled on public surfaces; unintelligible tags and arcane signs intended to communicate messages to a specialized audience with a trained eye. Such markings are so prevalent that they just blend into the urban patina of dirt and disrepair and go largely unnoticed. I’m not talking about illegal graffiti. Rather, the officially sanctioned infrastructural “tagging” employed by public works departments around the country.

You’ve probably seen these markings on streets and sidewalks. Multi-colored lines, arrows and diamonds denoting the presence of some subterranean infrastructure or encode instruction for construction or maintenance workers. A secret language that temporarily manifests the invisible systems that power our world. Recently, Columbia’s Studio-X blog shared the decoder ring that unlocks these secret messages:"
codes  hieroglyphics  annotation  streets  cities  urban  urbanism  symbols  messages  via:vruba 
april 2013 by robertogreco
What would it be like if Fellini and Godard... - Fresser.
"What would it be like if Fellini and Godard collaborated on a two minute film about parking in Naples? 

I won’t spoil it, but it’s worth watching. I kept worrying that it was secretly an ad for something, but it’s not. Unless it’s an ad for Italy.

Starts a bit slow, but let it roll."

[Direct link to video in case the embedded one doesn't work: ]
fellini  jean-lucgodard  italy  italia  hilarious  humor  napoli  naples  streets  kevinslavin 
february 2013 by robertogreco
Slide 1 of 50 (Sci-fi I like, Fictional Futures, Goldsmiths)
"This presentation isn’t about telling. Just read and look at the pictures, and maybe new ideas will come. That’s all it’s about."

"Climb up on the Moon? Of course we did."

"You point towards the galactic centre for two centuries then away for another two."

"Years are pretty arbitrary, and long periods to count. I can’t really conceive of them. But these stars come along every few months, which is a more human scale."

"To get to your house, you had to climb up on top of the city, walk along until you got to your chimney and climb down."

“When I hit the drum like this
I think the sound
was there from the beginning,
and everything has gone to make that sound,
and after it
everything is different.”
perception  scale  humanscale  moon  years  time  streets  turkey  cities  Çatalhöyük  ronherron  archigram  italocalvino  schul  schulzeandwebb  berg  berglondon  ursulaleguin  fictionalfutures  mattwebb  sciencefiction  fiction  culture  literature  science  technology  future  design  scifi 
december 2012 by robertogreco
The Untitled Project / Siber Art
"The Untitled Project is rooted in an underlying interest in the nature of power. With the removal of all traces of text from the photographs, the project explores the manifestation of power between large groups of people in the form of public and semi-public language. The absence of the printed word not only draws attention to the role text plays in the modern landscape but also simultaneously emphasizes alternative forms of communication such as symbols, colors, architecture and corporate branding. In doing this, it serves to point out the growing number of ways in which public voices communicate without using traditional forms of written language.

The reintroduction of the text takes written language out of the context of its intended viewing environment. The composition of the layouts remain true to the composition of their corresponding photographs in order to draw attention to relative size, location and orientation…"
2010  2002  visual  communication  aworldwithouttext  textless  ads  language  text  advertising  photography  art  mattsiber  words  signs  streets  cities 
june 2012 by robertogreco
intro to landscape studies - YouTube
"The modern age of landscape is an age where social interactions, markets, and developments are routinely channeled by institutions invisible to the ordinary individual. State infrastructure and capital have made immense and irreversible the effects of building, in the form of corridors, monuments and waste, channeling everyday paths and interactions in new space. In the era of modern building, the secrets of landscape are constantly hidden in plain sight.

To learn to see the landscape, western writers first had to learn to describe it. Unlike studies of rhetoric, which stretch back through the classical tradition, structural studies of the phenomenology, politics, and psychology of landscape only matured in the nineteenth century, in the era when state intervention began to physically reshape the shape of trade, agriculture, and the city at an unprecedented scale. Psychologists like Georg Simmel and cultural critics like Walter Benjamin imported the science of rhetoric and the…"
podcast  digitalhumanities  rebeccasolnit  streets  space  place  micheldecerteau  economics  politicaleconomy  policy  geography  urbanism  urban  cities  architecture  landscapearchitecture  modernity  institutions  literature  history  walterbenjamin  georgsimmel  interdisciplinarity  landscapestudies  2008  infrastructure  class  landscape  joguldi  interdisciplinary 
february 2012 by robertogreco
A Drive Through Bunker Hill and Downtown Los Angeles, ca. 1940s : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive
"Background process plate produced for an unidentified feature film, shot from an automobile driving through Bunker Hill and downtown Los Angeles.

Please help identify the streets and locations."
losangeles  history  1940s  bunkerhill  video  downtown  cities  streets 
september 2011 by robertogreco
Tactical Urbanism Final
"Improving the livability of our towns and cities commonly starts at the street, block, or building scale. While larger scale efforts do have their place, incremental, small-scale improvements are increasingly seen as a wayto stage more substantial investments. This approachallows a host of local actors to test new concepts beforemaking substantial political and financial commitments. Sometimes sanctioned, sometimes not, these actions are commonly referred to as “guerilla urbanism,” “pop-up urbanism,” “city repair,” or “D.I.Y. urbanism.” For the moment, we like “Tactical Urbanism,” which is anapproach that features the following five characteristics: A deliberate, phased approach to instigatingchange; The offering of local solutions for local planningchallenges; Short-term commitment and realistic expectations; Low-risks, with a possibly a high reward; & The development of social capital between citizensand the building of organizational capacity between…"
urbanism  diy  planning  gardening  publicspace  via:grahamje  tacticalurbanism  guerillagardening  space  place  chairbombing  pop-upcafes  pop-uprestaurants  pop-upstores  openstreets  playstreets  situationist  foodcarts  parkingday  cities  urban  mobilevendors  mobility  pop-upeducation  streetfairs  streets  streetlife  plazas  sharedspace  popup  pop-ups 
april 2011 by robertogreco
Woonerf - Wikipedia
"A woonerf (Dutch plural: woonerven) in the Netherlands and Flanders is a street where pedestrians and cyclists have legal priority over motorists. The techniques of shared spaces, traffic calming, and low speed limits are intended to improve pedestrian, bicycle, and automobile safety."
woonerf  woonerven  netherlands  streets  urban  urbanism  safety  bikes  biking  traffic  pedestrians  cars  motorists  priority  transportation 
march 2011 by robertogreco
Ascent Stage: Lessons from unmaking urban mistakes
"We've got more data about cities than we know what to do with. It's lying in archives, published on government websites, being sensed from instrumentation in the environment, deduced from aerial imagery, and built from the ground-up by citizens updating, tweeting, and texting a kind of pointillist painting of city life.

There's simply no reason that we can't design tools to bring city-dwellers into a closer relationship with information that can inform their choices. All the raw materials are there: data, visualization, analytics, and tools for socializing one's insight or commentary. This would not obviate the need for town hall meetings or public presentation of a city's plans, but it would equalize the power imbalance, bringing a Jacobsian emergent planning ethic to a suasive critical mass that can interact with top-down planning around a common set of facts."
urbanplanning  urbancomputing  complexity  design  infrastructure  transportation  urban  systems  streets  community  datamining  roads  planning  cities  highline  portland  nyc  chicago  johntolva  via:adamgreenfield  janejacobs  boston  freeways 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Derek Sivers: Weird, or just different? | Video on
""There's a flip side to everything," the saying goes, and in 2 minutes, Derek Sivers shows this is true in a few ways you might not expect."
ted  dereksivers  maps  mapping  japan  india  health  medicine  culture  opposites  negativespace  streets  perspective  assumptions  inversion  music  africa  timing  westafrica  names  naming  wayfinding 
january 2010 by robertogreco
cityofsound: Cars b/w Are Friends Electric
"The opportunity to genuinely explore the sound of the city without this blanket of private cars is compelling, whether through sculpting sound through active intervention or simply through enjoying a level aural playing field for the everyday sounds that already conjure the city.
danhill  cars  bikes  cities  noise  sound  safety  change  adaptation  streets  design  cityofsound  urban  urbanism 
may 2009 by robertogreco
Worldchanging: Bright Green: DIY Bike Route
""Contrail" is a design concept that enables cyclists to increase their visibility to cars, pedestrians, and each other. Conceived by Pepin Gelardi and Teresa Herrmann, this frame-mounted device would allow cyclists to make their mark on the street with faint lines of chalk. The rear wheel spins a smooth trail of color onto the pavement as the bike whizzes along."
bikes  streets  cities  mapping  maps  urban  activism  diy  elephantpaths  contrails  desirelines 
march 2009 by robertogreco
Dharavi: User-Generated City | airoots/eirut
"Why is it that Dharavi exercises so much fascination for architects, urbanists, researchers, students and journalists from all over the world? Is it because it is the “largest slum in Asia”? Is it because it is under imminent threat of being redeveloped? Is it because it is worth billions? Is it because the global media loves to recycle stereotypes of victimhood and third world poverty? These tired clichés and false alarms have filled the news for some time. But it is time to reload our browsers."
mumbai  india  cities  user-generated  usergenerated  dharavi  asia  slums  post-industrial  hybridspace  place  design  architecture  self-development  ingenuity  capitalism  knowledge  wikipedia  growth  typology  streets  authenticity  development 
january 2009 by robertogreco
Obama as an Experiment in Urban Form - Dwell Blog -
"How ironic would it be, however, to find that, for all of our calls to pedestrianize parts of the city, it takes the security of a president to make such urban interventions finally happen? In other words, what if Obama's most immediate impact on urban policy in the United States is simply to make people realize that pedestrianization isn't such a bad idea, after all?"
geoffmanaugh  politics  barackobama  landscape  chicago  security  urbanism  urban  cities  change  pedestrians  streets  cars  parking  bldgblog 
january 2009 by robertogreco
GOOD » Superb Idea: Bike Lane That Travels With You»
"The system projects a virtual bike lane (using lasers!) on the ground around the cyclists, providing drivers with a recognizable boundary they can easily avoid. The idea is to allow riders to take safety into their own hands, rather than leaving it to the city. And just in case you need to be convinced about the need for better cycle safety, watch this video about the stupidest bike lane in America."
bikes  gadgets  commuting  safety  lights  bikelanes  streets 
january 2009 by robertogreco
Danny the Street - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"Danny the Street is a fictional character in the DC Universe. He was created by Grant Morrison and Brendan McCarthy and first appeared in Doom Patrol vol. 2, #35 (August 1990).
comics  streets  cities  superheroes  glvo  projectideas 
january 2009 by robertogreco
Removing Cars to Create Public Space | Planetizen
"Cars dominate cities, especially in America. But as many cities in other countries have found, removing cars can turn busy streets into lively public places. Now the U.S. is starting to catch on."
cities  us  bikes  urbanism  sustainability  streets  cars  culture  urban  landscape  bogotá  pasadena 
october 2008 by robertogreco
TheWashCycle: The Myth of the Scofflaw Cyclist
"Cyclists in general know the law better than drivers...And better than the police even. So much of the myth stems not from willful disregard for the law by cyclists, but rampant ignorance of the law by drivers." "Now then, I'm not trying to claim that cyclists don't break the law. Let me state clearly and upfront, they do. What I'm saying is that there is nothing unique about the frequency with which cyclists as a class break the law when compared with drivers or pedestrians. And even if cyclists broke the law more flagrantly than others, this would not negate the need to share the road."
bikes  cars  mobility  politics  roads  safety  streets  urbanism  law  culture  washingtondc  dc  via:migurski 
july 2008 by robertogreco
Are Street-Sweepers The Solution To Street Updates? - O'Reilly Radar
"Realtime data is coming to geoweb in form of weather, traffic, our friend's locations...base mapping data is not keeping up. Streets are creating & destroyed in between 6-month to yearly updates...Could street-sweepers armed with high-res cameras capture
innovation  mapping  maps  geoweb  surveillance  municipalities  streets  cities  data  infrastructure 
may 2008 by robertogreco
Post-Car Culture: Ray Oldenburg
"His book, "The Great Good Place: Cafes, Coffee Shops, Bookstores, Bars, Hair Salons, and Other Hangouts at the Heart of a Community", is a fascinating look at importance of those places in our lives...his definitive list of the benefits of third places t
thirdplaces  society  social  place  community  cities  streets  lcproject  rayoldenburg  schooldesign  via:cityofsound 
may 2008 by robertogreco
all streets | ben fry
"All of the streets in the lower 48 United States: an image of 26 million individual road segments. No other features (such as outlines or geographic features) have been added to this image, however they emerge as roads avoid mountains, and sparse areas c
maps  visualization  mapping  us  streets  transportation  processing  via:adamgreenfield  geography  roads  datamining 
april 2008 by robertogreco
Taking Back the Streets - New York Times
"The Woonerf; Play Streets; Bicycle Boulevards; Pavement Hierarchy; Green Grid; Mental Speed Bumps; Swaled Streets; Lanescapes; Gentle Congestion; Urban Acupuncture"
cities  nyc  design  traffic  streets  urban  urbanism 
april 2008 by robertogreco
MapJack - Your City Online
"Jack may look like an ordinary guy, but he sure gets around, with the help of us of course -- a small team dedicated to high quality Immersive Street-Side Imagery, and bringing mass coverage online."
search  mapping  maps  locative  sanfrancisco  googlemaps  travel  streetview  panorama  geolocation  virtualworlds  visualization  virtualization  virtual  streets 
march 2008 by robertogreco
Pruned: Hyperlocalizing Hydrology in the Post-Industrial Urban Landscape
"truly innovative stormwater management system...Portland, Oregon...“first of its kind anywhere,” Perry's project replaced city's combined storm/sewer pipe system with landscaped curb extension carved out of portion of street's parking zone"
portland  oregon  via:cityofsound  design  runoff  sustainability  landscape  infrastructure  engineering  green  suburbs  streets  urban  urbanism  water 
march 2008 by robertogreco
cityofsound: The street as platform
"sketch of average high street...based on here and now; none of the technology is R&D...We can’t see how the street is immersed in a twitching, pulsing cloud of data...two caricatured possible futures that can be deployed to flush out a few more issues.
danhill  ubicomp  ubiquitous  interactiondesign  streets  cities  sensors  darta  datacloud  socialmedia  socialnetworking  urbanism  urban  places  place  space  interaction  sociology  mobile  phones  design  research  future  experience 
february 2008 by robertogreco
Streetsblog » The Bogotá Transformation: Vision and Political Will
"How is it, we asked, that a city with about one-tenth the per capita income of New York was able to build one of sleekest, most efficient and high-tech surface transportation systems in the world?"
bogotá  colombia  urbanism  design  planning  latinamerica  environment  bikes  transportation  urban  streets  politics  buses 
october 2007 by robertogreco
GWENAËL BÉLANGER | Artiste > Chutes (2003)
"J’ai donc décidé de courir (ou rouler) littéralement les rues avec le but de faire apparaître des éléments du décor qui nous entourent et que nous ne remarquons pas, qui nous échappent."
art  photography  montreal  canada  panorama  cities  streets  space  surroundings 
june 2007 by robertogreco
Eurozine - Simulated cities, sedated living - Robert Misik The shopping mall as paradigmatic site of lifestyle capitalism
[Wayback: ]

“Shopping malls simulate city centres and create an atmosphere appropriate for consuming…planned in advanced and controlled…rebounds on city centres: prettified, scrubbed, and tidied…adopt the mall aesthetic…final twist, malls have begun building
architecture  capitalism  consumerism  culture  design  experience  planning  cities  society  streets  malls  shopping 
june 2007 by robertogreco
The Institute For Figuring // Online Exhibit: Hyperbolic Space
"We have created a world of rectilinearity. The rooms we inhabit, the skyscrapers we work in, the grid-like arrangement of our streets, the shelves on which we store our possessions, and the freeways we cruise on our daily commute speak to us in straight
math  science  space  topology  systems  streets  design  architecture  urban  cities 
december 2006 by robertogreco
IDEO’s Urban Pre-Planning | Metropolis Magazine
"Can its “Smart Space” practice shake up the lumbering world of infrastructure, zoning, and public process?"
cities  community  planning  urban  space  urbanism  design  architecture  jazz  music  history  ethnography  sustainability  technology  innovation  ideo  streets  process  business 
october 2006 by robertogreco

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