Skyline Stories: Neo-Suburbs by Blotting the Rust Belt, Last of New York’s Meatpackers by Whitney Museum

Are there any urban planning cures for de-urbanizing cities?

Homeowners can snap up adjacent vacant lots, creating block-lots, or blots. / Image via Atlantic Cities.

Perhaps the best one for “smart shrinkage” is “blotting” — when “homeowners in failing neighborhoods are snapping up adjacent vacant lots for their own use, creating block-lots, or blots.” Interboro, a Brooklyn-based urban planning and design firm, says it’s “one-part redevelopment and two parts de-urbanization, remaking the city as more green and less dense,” a neo-suburb or “new suburbanism.” (Atlantic Cities)

These cities could also be resurrected if states ended suburban sprawl, and encouraged renovating existing houses — which created 50 percent more jobs than demolition and new construction. (Atlantic Cities)

Cities could also attract the young, creative class by making them more pedestrian friendly, especially by taking away space from cars. (New York Times)

Improving mass transit would also attract residents. One cheap and quick fix for buses would be to let them use highway shoulders like in Chicago. (Atlantic Cities) And skyscrapers can become more human, watch examples in the new open-source documentary film “One Millionth Tower” about humanizing skyscrapers.
(Atlantic Cities)

Weichsel Beef plant, one of the last meatpackers in the rapidly-gentrifying Meatpacking District. / Image via Vanishing New York.

Lots of New York news — there was the annual Historic House Tour in Queens (Queens Historical Society) and the Brooklyn Navy Yard is now open to visitors! (International Business Times)

In the rapidly-gentrifying Meatpacking District, there’s a cool video of the Whitney’s construction of its new building by the High Line (High Line Blog), near Weichsel Beef, one of the last of the meatpackers. (Vanishing New York)

Finally, endless city mapping possibilities via Bostonography: autumn colors of trees, baseball radio coverage… (Atlantic Cities)


Skyline Stories: Getting Lost in Paris, DesignPhiladelphia, Cherry Hill Mall Turns 50, SF Model City

Paris. Does any other city conjure such images of beauty, romance and nostalgia? The Times’ former Frugal Traveler Matt Gross has an amazing post on getting lost in the city:

It was as if Paris itself knew why I had come. Or maybe I was finally seeing Paris for what it really was: a marvelous open-air cinema where the filmstrips of our memories flicker ceaselessly, even as we shoot new scenes. (NYT)

In a fun activity, he assigned a group of international high school students to get “lost” in Central Park. (World Matt)

Okay, so maybe New York rivals the City of Lights for imagery.

Density, livability, and social equity could redefine New York for the 21st century.
(NY Mag) And it’s refreshing to see New York City’s municipal architecture embracing 21st century urban planning ideals and new architects. (NYT) In Queens, PS1 and the Noguchi Museum look to Long Island City’s future with new master plans. (Urban Omnibus)

But great design isn’t limited to New York — this week DesignPhiladelphia celebrates urban life (Flying Kite Media). Much of Philadelphia’s regeneration could be attributed to Paul Levy, the head of the powerful Center City District, with a budget of $20 million. (City Paper).

Fiftieth anniversaries for the Cherry Hill Mall — which was intriguingly originally planned to be like a pedestrian mall in the suburbs ( — and for Washington D.C.’s underutilized RFK Stadium (WP).

Progressive Field's Snow Park in Cleveland. / Image via Atlantic Cities, Progressive Field.

Neighborhood regeneration could come from:
-Winter use of ballparks like in Cleveland (Atlantic Cities).
-Designing with poor people instead of for them, as a Cooper-Hewitt curated exhibit shows. (Atlantic Cities)
-Improving mass transit, as in Atlanta’s BeltLine Plan and the watered-down Grand Paris plan.
-A great seaside resort, like Blackpool, England. (BBC)

San Fracisco Scale Model in 1940. / Image via Atlantic Cities/National Archives.

Finally — who doesn’t get excited about scale models of cities? San Francisco’s from 1940 was just discovered! (Atlantic Cities)