Tag Archives: USA

the whistle stop train tour

Following the same route that Abraham Lincoln rode 150 years ago, President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Dr. Jill Biden made their way to the inauguration on a whistle stop train tour that wove its way from Philadelphia through Delaware and Maryland on its way to Washington.

“To the children who hear the whistle of the train and dream of a better life — that’s who we’re fighting for. That’s who needs change,” President Obama said at one stop along the way. “And those are the stories that we will gather with us to Washington.”

After several years in which trains have been neglected in favour of cars and planes, Obama’s choice of trains as a symbol of the new hope for USA is indeed a good news!

(source: The White House)

Obama promotes urban life

“…All of our politics was built around the idea that there are cities, and there are suburbs, and the suburban people don’t like the city people, and the city people don’t like the suburban people, and usually the suburban people are republicans, and the city people are democrats…our politics was built around that idea. Except that now all the researches are showing that, if you want a driving suburban area, then you’d better have a driving city…”

Little by little, the theme of city life and suburban life is entering the main political debate. First, talks were about gas prices and how they are threatening the suburban lifestyle. Then little by little, the speech moved to the opportunities offered by a less car-friendly and more pedestrian-friendly city: socializing opportunities, random meeting opportunities, life-improving opportunities. The suburban model is not  “the one and only” possible model anymore.

(source:barackobama.com, via jane jacobs)

Small towns and smart growth

(image: a small town in Paris’s suburbs, via Microsoft Virtual Earth)

Till now, it seemed that small towns were doomed to be the victims of urban sprawl: the only future waiting for them was made of single-family houses, shopping malls, office parks and highways.

Even when bigger towns started to develop their downtown, smaller cities thought that this was not their business, because there were not enough amenities to justify a mixed use, walkable development.

But things are changing. Even a small town can have its part of smart growth. Let’s just stop thinking about it as a closed entity and let’s think about it as an element of a bigger system…  an office park, a shopping mall, a residential development and a transit station,  all concentrated in a single entity. Then, the small&smart town can advertise itself like any other office park or shopping mall (parkings all around and a big billboard sign)… and it’s done!

(sources: 24Heures, NRDC)

inflatable street art

After having become famous for blowing up Marilyn Monroe skirt, subway air grates come again, this time to give birth to Joshua allen Harris’s works of art.  in normal conditions, Harris’s artworks seems to be just garbage left on the road,  but when a subway train pass under the grate, air blows up and turns them into living  sculptures!

(Sources: the Hollywood News, Urban Prankster, Le Flambeau)

New York Times forgets bike parking

Riding a bike is a pleasant, cheap and environmentally friendly way to move around the city, but has its own things to worry about. One of the main issues is parking your bike in a safe way.

A good solution would be providing indoor (and controlled) bike parking, an option that architects and developper often forget. New York Times didn’t escape from this mistake, and built a a brand new, energy-saving building, but without a bike parking.

NYT employees had to fight hard for their right to bike to work… you can read all the story here.

(source: streetsblog)