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How Tourism Is Killing Venice

Words on the Street highlights the best writing on cities we’ve encountered recently at New Urbs. Post tips at @NewUrbs [1].

Will Venice Survive This Century? [2]

The thousands of tourists trooping down into St. Mark’s Square from their dozens of levels of staterooms on a colossal cruise ship might be shocked to hear that they and the others of Venice’s eight million tourists a year are killing, not aiding, Venice. But in fact tourists spend little in Venice, and officials until recently allowed as many as thirteen such ships every day to sail into the lagoon, Venice’s main waterway, “staring the city down, polluting its waters.” All in the name of one reward: money for the cruise ship owners. Just along the Grand Canal, “the last fifteen years have seen the closure of state institutions, judicial offices, banks, the German consulate, medical practices, and stores to make way for sixteen new hotels.” The population of Venice’s historic center has fallen from 174,808 in 1951 to 56,072 in 2015. Tourists outnumber Venetians 140:1. Venetians must move away to find work outside tourism …. Settis’s book, as he rightly insists, is not just about Venice. It is a passionate call to nourish low-lying, walkable Venice as an alternative urban model to skyscraper-dominated, automobile-clogged Chongqing. Beyond Venice, it is an account that can inspire everyone, especially in historic cities all over the world, who loves traditional city life and who cares for homo sapiens as a political animal. [Read more… [2]]

—Mary Campbell Gallagher, New Criterion

Record-Breaking Public Subsidy Lures Hated Football Team to America’s Gambling Capital [3]

Maybe it flies. How else to explain the $1.9 billion that the Oakland Raiders and Clark County, home of Las Vegas, have committed to spend on the new stadium that lured the team to Nevada? … Stanford economist Roger Noll said [4] it was the “worst deal for a city” he had ever seen. [Read more… [3]]

—Henry Grabar, Slate

How Fire Chiefs and Traffic Engineers Make Places Less Safe [5]

Of all the urbanism specialists with tunnel vision, fire chiefs, fire marshals, and traffic engineers are probably the most dangerous. And by “dangerous,” I don’t just mean that they’re a threat to good urbanism; they also get people killed, which is exactly the opposite of what they are commissioned to do. A classic example of their silo thinking is playing out right now in Celebration, Florida, where the proposed measures of eliminating on-street parking spaces and eliminating street trees will almost certainly leave Celebration a less safe place than it is today. [Read more… [5]]

—Steve Mouzon, CNU Public Square

To Address Affordable Housing Shortage, Restoring 19th-Century Homes [6]

[Some residents of a Florida town] are endorsing a local plan to train job-seeking residents in home construction through the rehabilitation of abandoned, working-class cottages known as shotgun homes. There are dozens of them in an Apalachicola district called the Hill, where black fishermen and mill workers have lived for more than a century. The shotguns are historically significant because they are among the first examples of African architecture in the United States.“The original affordable housing here was the shotgun,” said Creighton Brown, a recent transplant from New York who devised the plan. [Read more… [6]]

—Christine Negroni, New York Times

Durham and the Art of Cool [7]

Few could have foreseen the explosive growth in Raleigh-Durham over the past two decades, especially not in Durham’s downtown, which was mostly abandoned by the moneyed class until recently. In 2001 my nephew, then a high school senior from Pittsburgh, was picked up at Raleigh-Durham airport by Duke undergraduate admissions staff—he was visiting for an interview—and as they motored past Durham’s downtown on the freeway, he was told, “Don’t worry about what you see there, it’s a place you’ll never go.” People argue over how to describe what’s happened since then. Pick one—revitalization or reinvestment or gentrification or serial displacement—or all. Three new boutique hotels have opened in the past two years in downtown Durham. Hip restaurants and bars proliferate. Hipsters follow. I recently came across my first Portland-like twentysomething white couple presenting themselves as homeless in downtown Durham. Condos are sprouting up all over. Ground was broken in 2016 on a 27-story building, the city’s tallest by nine stories. [Read more… [7]]

—Sam Stephenson & Ivan Weiss, Public Books

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1 Comment (Open | Close)

1 Comment To "How Tourism Is Killing Venice"

#1 Comment By Will Kemp On April 4, 2017 @ 8:36 pm

I’d be more interested in following the first article closely if it didn’t re-use the ridiculous 35 million population figure for Chongqing. That’s the population of the municipality, an area the size of Austria featuring large rural areas and numerous smaller cities. The city itself is about 7-8 million and anyone with anything interesting to say about Chongqing would at least know that. The use of Chinese urban problems as poorly understood strawmen is not the sign of good article.