urban planning

Sheehan was joined by neighborhood elected officials, local business representatives and community members to cut the ribbon on the revitalized New Scotland Avenue Streetscape.
WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

Albany's New Scotland Avenue neighborhood is undergoing big changes. Mayor Kathy Sheehan stopped by the newly completed "streetscape area" than runs from Quail to Ontario Streets.

Development at the former Playdium site on Albany's Ontario Street.
WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

A group of Albany residents who say they are frustrated with development in the city are planning to rally at tonight's Common Council meeting.

On Wednesday, May 15, Pulitzer Prize-winning architectural critic Paul Goldberger will talk with Oblong Book and Music's Dick Hermans about "Ballpark: Baseball in the American City."

The book is a new look at the history of baseball: told through the stories of the vibrant and ever-changing ballparks at the heart of our cities--where dreams are as limitless as the outfields.

Today, more than half of the world’s population lives in cities, and it’s predicted that by 2030, 60% of the population in China, 87% of Americans, and 92% of residents in the United Kingdom will be city dwellers.

Yet urban inhabitation is a relatively new phenomenon in the timeline of human history—the first cities came into being about 6,000 years ago. The creation of cities was not an inevitability, so why did it happen?

In her new book, Cities: The First 6,000 Years, UCLA professor of anthropology Monica L. Smith explains the rise of the first urban developments and their connections to the cities of today.

A complex but functional design for a simple stretch of street.
Chazen Companies / Dave Lucas

It seems all eyes are on New Scotland Avenue. This week, the busy Albany street has garnered attention on several fronts.

Traffic, and where it flows in a growing section of Albany, was the subject of a public meeting Monday night at St. Peter's Hospital.
WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

Traffic, and where it flows in a growing section of Albany, was the subject of a public meeting Monday night at St. Peter's Hospital.

Anti-Bioswale lawn signs along Albany's Ramsey Place [INSET: street resident Ed Vining]
Composite photo by Dave Lucas / WAMC

Residents of one Albany neighborhood are trying to scuttle plans to build a bioswale on their street.

Mick Cornett served four terms as Oklahoma City's longest-serving Mayor from 2004 to 2018. Midway through his time in office, Newsweek called him one of the five most innovative mayors in the country, and at the end of his Mayoralty he was named #25 on Fortune Magazine's "World's Greatest Leaders" list. London-based World Mayors listed him as the #2 mayor in the world, and Governing magazine named him the Public Official of the Year in 2010. Best known for helping Oklahoma City attract the NBA's Thunder franchise and putting Oklahoma City "on a diet" to lose a collective million pounds, Cornett also led the charge to pass MAPS 3, an innovative $800 million civic infrastructure investment in parks, urban transit, wellness centers, and downtown amenities that have dramatically reshaped Oklahoma City.

Cornett's books, "The Next American City: The Big Promise of Our Midsize Metros," is a hopeful and illuminating look at the dynamic and inventive urban centers that will lead the United States in coming years.

Richard Sennett is the author of "The Craftsman," "The Fall of Public Man," and "The Corrosion of Character." He teaches urban studies at the London School of Economics and at Harvard University, and is a senior fellow in Columbia University’s Center for Capitalism and Society. For thirty years, he has directed projects under the auspices of the UN that aim to guide urban development in the twenty-first century.

"Building and Dwelling" is Sennett's definitive statement. In this sweeping work, he traces the anguished relation between how cities are built and how people live in them, from ancient Athens to twenty-first-century Shanghai. He shows how Paris, Barcelona, and New York City assumed their modern forms; rethinks the reputations of Jane Jacobs, Lewis Mumford, and others; and takes us on a tour of emblematic contemporary locations, from the backstreets of Medellín, Colombia, to the Google headquarters in Manhattan.

Andrea Barnet’s new book "Visionary Women" tells the story of four visionaries who profoundly shaped the world we live in today. Together, these women, linked not by friendship or field but by their choice to break with convention, showed what one person speaking truth to power can do.

Jane Jacobs fought for livable cities and strong communities; Rachel Carson warned us about poisoning the environment; Jane Goodall demonstrated the indelible kinship between humans and animals; and Alice Waters urged us to reconsider what and how we eat.

Barnet traces the arc of each woman’s career and explores how their work collectively changed the course of history.

Dubbed by the New Yorker as "one of America's very best singer-songwriters," Dar Williams has made her career not in stadiums, but touring America's small towns. She has played their venues, composed in their coffee shops, and drunk in their bars. She has seen these communities struggle, but also seen them thrive in the face of postindustrial identity crises.

In her book, What I Found in a Thousand Towns: A Traveling Musician's Guide to Rebuilding America's Communities—One Coffee Shop, Dog Run, and Open-Mike Night at a Time, Williams muses on why some towns flourish while others fail, examining elements from the significance of history and nature to the uniting power of public spaces and food. Drawing on her own travels and the work of urban theorists, Williams offers real solutions to rebuild declining communities.

In recent years, the young, educated, and affluent have surged back into cities, reversing decades of suburban flight and urban decline. And yet all is not well, Richard Florida argues in The New Urban Crisis. Florida, one of the first scholars to anticipate this back-to-the-city movement in his groundbreaking The Rise of the Creative Class, demonstrates how the same forces that power the growth of the world's superstar cities also generate their vexing challenges: gentrification, unaffordability, segregation, and inequality.

Richard Florida is University Professor and Director of Cities at the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management and Distinguished Fellow at NYU's Schack Institute of Real Estate. He is Senior Editor at The Atlantic, editor-at-large for The Atlantic's CityLab, and founder of the Creative Class Group.

Richard Rothstein, a leading authority on housing policy, is here to tell us about his new book: The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America which explores how the laws and policy decisions passed by local, state, and federal governments actually promoted the discriminatory patterns that continue to this day.

Richard Rothstein is a research associate of the Economic Policy Institute and a Fellow at the Thurgood Marshall Institute of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. He is a Fellow of the Haas Institute at the University of California Berkeley. 

William W. Goldsmith is Professor Emeritus of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University. He is coauthor of Separate Societies: Poverty and Inequality in U.S. Cities.

In his new book, Saving Our Cities, William W. Goldsmith shows how cities can be places of opportunity rather than places with problems. With strongly revived cities and suburbs, working as places that serve all their residents, metropolitan areas will thrive, thus making the national economy more productive, the environment better protected, the citizenry better educated, and the society more reflective, sensitive, and humane.

In The Well-Tempered City, Jonathan F. P. Rose distills a lifetime of interdisciplinary research and firsthand experience into a five-pronged model for how to design and reshape our cities with the goal of equalizing their landscape of opportunity.

Rose works with cities and not-for-profits to plan and build green affordable and mixed-income housing and cultural, health, and educational centers. Recognized for creating communities that literally heal both residents and neighborhoods, Rose is one of the nation's leading thinkers on the integration of environmental, social, and economic solutions to the urban issues facing us today.

In our Ideas Matter segment we take time just about every week to check in with the state humanities councils in our 7-state region.

Today we're going to speak with Anne Mosher and learn about engaged place-making and the process of what she calls “urban acupuncture," -- how sketch mapping a community can bring out deeply buried memories about places, and do so in a targeted way.

Anne Mosher about is associate professor of geography at Syracuse University and New York Council for the Humanities Public Scholar.

  Janette Sadik-Khan is one of the world’s foremost authorities on transportation and urban transformation. During her time as New York City’s Transportation Commissioner from 2007 to 2013, under former mayor Michael Bloomberg, Janette Sadik-Khan transformed the streets of one of the world’s toughest cities into dynamic spaces that are safe for pedestrians and bikers. Now a principal with Bloomberg Associates, Sadik-Khan works with mayors around the world to reimagine and redesign their cities.

In Streetfight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution, Sadik-Khan provides a roadmap for rethinking, reinvigorating, and redesigning city streets across the country to function better for the people and communities that use them. The book was co-authored by Seth Solomonow who joins us along with Janette Sakid-Khan.

There are a number of iconic elements that make up New York City, The Empire State Building, Time Square, Rockefeller Center, The Statue of Liberty, but long before these landmarks could come to define "The Big City" its very structure had to be developed. The new book City on a Grid: How New York Became New York, tells just that story. How New York City's streets came to form its rectilinear grid that millions of people now walk through everyday.

    Moses Gates is a new breed of adventurer for the 21st century. He thrives on the thrill of seeing what others do not see, let alone even know exists. It all began quite innocuously. After moving to New York City and pursuing graduate studies in Urban Planning, he began unearthing hidden facets of the city—abandoned structures, disused subway stops, incredible rooftop views that belonged to cordoned-off buildings.

In his memoir of his experiences, Hidden Cities, Gates details his travels through underground canals, sewers, subways, and crypts, in metropolises spanning four continents.

Gates describes his immersion in the worldwide subculture of urban exploration; how he joined a world of people who create secret art galleries in subway tunnels, break into national monuments for fun, and travel the globe sleeping in centuries-old catacombs and abandoned Soviet relics rather than hotels or bed-and-breakfasts.

  Jeff Speck has dedicated his career to determining what makes cities thrive. And he has boiled it down to one key factor: walkability.