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What We’re Following

Suburban development: While most Americans live in suburbs, they also struggle to say what exactly a suburb is. At best, we know a suburb when we see one. But there’s real value to be found in crafting a standard definition of suburbia that goes beyond the leftover category between urban and rural.

Now, researchers at Harvard are aiming to do just that. By identifying three different ways to define suburbs, they reveal some conclusions about American life, including how people commute, what kind of housing they live in, and what their family structure is. And while the data confirms some common cookie-cutter assumptions, it pushes back on others in ways that are important to understanding a key battleground shaping the nation’s politics and future. CityLab’s Richard Florida shares his takeaways: How Should We Define The Suburbs?

Andrew Small


More on CityLab

The Rise, Fall, and Possible Rebirth of 100 Resilient Cities

Internal communications shed new light on the Rockefeller Foundation’s decision to stop funding the global climate nonprofit, and hint at what might come next.

Laura Bliss

Are McMansions Making Everyone Unhappy?

Homes have gotten bigger, but Americans aren’t any more pleased with the extra space.

Joe Pinsker

The Secrets to NYC Parks’ New Signs

Over the last five years, NYC Parks has very gradually introduced a new brand identity, including streamlined signs visible at most parks today.

Kriston Capps

What’s Behind New Delhi’s Gated Communities?

India’s capital city is full of private residential “colonies” protected by locked gates. But many claim the barriers don't stop crime and cause traffic chaos.

Ashish Malhotra

Atlanta’s Food Forest Will Provide Fresh Fruit, Nuts, and Herbs to Forage

The seven-acre site in southeast Atlanta will grow fresh fruit, vegetables, herbs, and nuts to improve food security for local communities.

Rebecca Renner


A Shore Thing

City of Toronto Archives

For almost a decade, a Space Age amusement park has sat mostly dormant on Toronto’s downtown waterfront. It’s recently been targeted for redevelopment, with rumors swirling that it would be turned into condos or a casino.

Those rumors were put to rest last week, but what comes next still isn’t clear. The government’s development guidelines don’t require it to remain a public space, kicking off a preemptive fight to preserve the buildings on this once aspirational exhibition grounds. Whatever happens, it will take a lot to rehabilitate this now-shabby site, but, Chris Bateman writes, “The great gift of Ontario Place may be Toronto’s newfound love for its lake.” Read: What’s Next For Ontario Place, a Treasured Toronto Amusement Park


What We’re Reading

Uber wants your next Big Mac to be delivered by drone (Bloomberg)

Hey, middle class, the housing crisis is coming for you next (Curbed)

How dengue, a deadly mosquito-borne disease, could spread in a warming world (New York Times)

The case for fully cleaning up America’s lead problem (Vox)

Podcast alert: The Scarlet E, unmasking America’s eviction crisis (WNYC)


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