(Illustration by Andrea Posada)
Out of the thousands of stories we wrote on the leaders, policies and innovations driving progress in cities this year, here are the 15 you read the most. Thanks for reading, sharing and supporting our work. For more look-backs at 2015, check out the best and worst Urban Trends of the year and our Year in Review. See you in 2016!
A Germophobe’s Guide to Buying a Metrocard
We kicked off 2015 with a strangely compelling tale of one germophobe’s investigation into a cleaner commute.
How a Not-Entirely-Polite Card Game Is Changing Urban Planning
The members of “Do Tank DC,” planners, architects and activists, and the founder of Greater Places, an online hub for urban design, had a wild, not-entirely-sober idea to turn urban planning into a game.
The Just City Essays
These 26 essays on urban justice were so popular we turned them into a free ebook that was downloaded thousands of times. Now you can receive a beautifully designed, limited-edition print copy.
The Threat to Detroit’s Rebound Isn’t Crime or the Economy, It’s the Mortgage Industry
One of the most sinister legacies of urban development — redlining — is making a de facto reappearance in Detroit.
Lexington, Kentucky (Photo by Britt Selvitelle)
New Species of City Discovered: The University City
Post-industrial City. Metropolis. Border Town. Tourist Mecca. We like to classify our cities, giving them labels that signal what makes them tick, why they’re special. Op-ed contributor Scott Shapiro broke down new data which suggest there’s another urban typology to add to the list: The University City.
What an Urban Sociologist Thinks Harvard’s Planning and Design Students Need to Know
Tom Dallessio, Next City’s president, CEO and publisher, spoke with Diane E. Davis in June, soon after she was named chair of the Department of Urban Planning and Design at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. They chatted about everything from urbanization in the “global south” to her morning commute.
Why One Silicon Valley City Said “No” to Google
Big money and even bigger egos are colliding in the tech world’s new company towns, and at least one tiny California city has “Google fatigue.”
10 Must-Read Books for Urbanists on Cities, Race and Public Space
Contributing writer Anna Clark offers her picks for anyone looking to better understand the dynamics of urban life. In a year when the literary world’s race issues made headlines more than once, Clark’s picks were 100 percent produced by writers of color.
Are You a Helicopter Parent? Blame Gentrification.
Evidence continues to mount about the negative impact that overparenting has on children. This is our story of how the rising cost of being a middle- or upper-middle-class parent in America’s most rapidly gentrifying areas is causing anxious, well-intentioned moms and dads.
Appreciating the sunset on the aptly named Sunset Limited near Willcox, Arizona (Photo by Danya Sherman)
What Long-Distance Trains Teach Us About Public Space in America
The long-distance train is one of America’s greatest and least heralded public spaces. We explore how the train encapsulates many qualities of public spaces that planners and designers try so hard to create.
How One City Will Change Its Entire Bus System Overnight
Last July, Houston revamped its entire 1970s-era bus network — more than 80 routes, 1,200 buses and a quarter-million daily passengers — literally overnight.
A Radical Design Movement Is Growing in New Orleans
What happens when activists, architects and artists team up to change their city?
A large temporary plaza built by Rebar on the Embarcadero on San Francisco’s Pier 9 (Credit: Rebar)
Hacking Public Space With the Designers Who Invented Park(ing) Day
Bay Area urban designer John Bela writes about how he and a small band of guerrilla planners liberated a parking space and with that, catalyzed a new way of thinking about public space.
The Urban Planner’s Guide to a Post-COP21 World
Cities are leading the fight against climate change. Here’s the blueprint for action.
One Mayor’s Downfall Killed the Design Project That Could’ve Changed Everything
Can public interest design survive in the political jungle that is the contemporary American city hall?