It doesn’t take long after I drive out of the sleek OR Tambo international airport for the penny to drop. Again. Johannesburg is the bastard child of the worst aspects of capitalist greed and 20th-century racism. Nearly 150 years after its formation, this sprawling metropolis is still scarred by the sins of its genesis. Johannesburg – like Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and other cities in South Africa – is visibly and traumatically segregated. These remain cities divided. The rich of Johannesburg still live in the sumptuous northern suburbs, where the food at some restaurants is Michelin-star quality and house prices are eye-watering. These areas remain largely white, although that is changing at a glacial pace. The workers are in Soweto and Alexandra and other poor, crime-plagued black enclaves. It has always been this way with Johannesburg, and it remains pretty much as divided 25 years after apartheid collapsed and 29 years after Nelson Mandela walked out of … [Read more...] about Why are South African cities still so segregated 25 years after apartheid?
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I first met Jane Jacobs in the early 90s. She was sitting in the front row of a large Toronto auditorium as I delivered a one-hour lecture. I did not know who she was. When I was done, the first hand up – sharply so – belonged to this elderly person. How wonderful, I thought, a citizen who has never stopped being engaged. What came out of her mouth, though, was one of the sharpest critiques of my way of analysing the city that I’d ever heard – and probably ever will. She pursued a line of questioning quite different from what I usually get. She continously returned to the issue of “place”, and its importance when considering the implementation of urban policies – notably the loss of neighbourhoods and erasure of local residents’ experiences. Her input made me shift my thinking to more “micro” levels; I am still doing quite a bit of work today on the need to relocalise pieces of national and city economies. So perhaps now, on … [Read more...] about How Jane Jacobs changed the way we look at cities
Neil Woodford, who last night suffered the ultimate humiliation of seeing his financial empire collapse, was once the most acclaimed investment guru in Britain with a Pied Piper following among small investors. But, as anyone who has met him will testify, the downfall of the 59-year-old is due to fatal flaws in his character. Greed, naturally – it comes with the territory – but above all arrogance. Even now, Woodford’s self-belief is so unshakeable he says he cannot accept the decision to close down his flagship fund. Unbelievable though it may seem, he still believes he could have traded his way out of trouble. This is a man who has such faith in his own abilities he thinks that when his investments go down, it means the market, not him, is wrong. Neil Woodford, who last night suffered the ultimate humiliation of seeing his financial empire collapse, was once the most acclaimed investment guru in Britain with a Pied Piper following among small investors It is a … [Read more...] about RUTH SUNDERLAND on the arrogance of City outside Neil Woodford who lost his golden touch and then saw his financial empire turn to rubble
If you live in Glasgow, you are more likely to die young. Men die a full seven years earlier than their counterparts in other UK cities. Until recently, the causes of this excess mortality remained a mystery. “Deep-fried Mars bars,” some have speculated. “The weather,” others suggested. For years, those reasons were as good as any. In 2012, the Economist described it thus: “It is as if a malign vapour rises from the Clyde at night and settles in the lungs of sleeping Glaswegians.” The phenomenon has become known as the Glasgow effect. But David Walsh, a public health programme manager at the Glasgow Centre for Population Health, who led a study on the excess deaths in 2010, wasn’t satisfied with how the term was being used. “It turned into a Scooby-Doo mystery but it’s not an exciting thing,” he says. “It’s about people dying young, it’s about grief.” He wanted to work out why Glaswegians have a 30% … [Read more...] about Urban living makes us miserable – this city is trying to change that
If you propose a high-rise public housing project in America, your opponents will almost certainly use Pruitt-Igoe as a rhetorical weapon against you – and defeat you with it. The Captain WO Pruitt Homes and William L Igoe Apartments, a racially segregated, middle-class complex of 33 11-storey towers, opened to great fanfare on the north side of St Louis between 1954 and 1956. But within a decade, it would become a decrepit warehouse exclusively inhabited by poor, black residents. Within two decades, it would undergo complete demolition. Whether you call Pruitt-Igoe’s short, troubled existence a failure of architecture, a failure of policy, or a failure of society, its fate remains bound up with, and reflective of, the fate of many American cities in the mid-20th century. Even before the dust settled from the infamous, widely televised 1972 implosion of one of Pruitt-Igoe’s buildings (the last of which wouldn’t fall until 1976), the argument that the design had … [Read more...] about Pruitt-Igoe: the troubled high-rise that came to define urban America – a history of cities in 50 buildings, day 21