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Words on the Street

Starting this week, New Urbs will be regularly collecting the best content we’ve read each week that we didn’t publish—but would have. Read something you think should make the cut? E-mail Jon Coppage or tag @NewUrbs with the link on Twitter.

“Reclaiming Redneck Urbanism” via MarketUrbanism

By combining these liberal land-use regulations with narrow streets shared by all users, we ironically find in many trailer parks a kind of traditional urban design more common in European and Japanese cities.

“Trains in Space” via London Review of Books

The peculiarity of the railways in the country that invented them is that everyone involved can claim to be playing a heritage role, whatever they do. Modernity at its most destructive and ruthless was as essential a characteristic of the railways in the 1830s as engineering flair and craftsmanship, and capitalism at its most exploitative and greedy was a greater driver of the initial rapid growth of the network than abstract concern for progress or the good of society.

“The Rowhome Is Us” via Philadelphia

And anyway, regardless of the specifics of the individual architecture­ — no matter how traditional or trendy, how stunning or schlocky — living in a rowhouse isn’t only about the individual. It’s about the whole. And where the two meet. It is, as my wise neighbor Cece commented, “about feeling like you’re a part of something.”

“In Praise of the Library of Congress” via The Week

Quality government requires, on some level, that bureaucrats overcome their self-interest and do a good job simply because it is virtuous. I suggest that beauty for its own sake is an important part of this process. Under the dome of the Main Reading Room — as with the Capitol Rotunda — the demand to live up to the national ancestors is almost palpable. … A dignified nation does not conduct its business from ugly concrete boxes.

“Beyonce’s Simple But Radical Front Porch Politics” via CityLab

Congregating on the front porch or stoop of folks’ homes is an inveterate cultural element of black communities across America, especially in the South. For New Orleans, one need look no further than the early music videos of No Limit and Cash Money Records artists to see how much of a cultural staple front porch convening is—or was—to the urban fabric.

“New Urbs” is supported by a grant from the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation.

about the author

Jonathan Coppage is a TAC associate editor. He received a BA in Political Science from North Carolina State University, and previously attended the University of Chicago, where he studied in the Fundamentals: Issues and Texts great books concentration. Jonathan also worked at The New Atlantis: A Journal of Technology and Society. Jon can be followed on Twitter @JonCoppage, or reached by e-mail at [email protected]

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