This month, Seoul plans to launch the first stage of Metaverse Seoul, an ambitious five-year plan to code a digital re-creation of the South Korean capital. When it’s finished, residents will be able to explore historical sites, tour museums, attend virtual events, and even stop by City Hall to hack away at red tape without leaving their couches. Given Governor Jared Polis’ love of all things high-tech—including collecting state taxes in cryptocurrencies—it’s only a matter of time until Colorado follows suit, starting with our own capital city. Which is why we came up with some of Metaverse Denver’s most important points of interest.
There are a lot of possibilities here in addition to what Seoul is pursuing. Should a city aim for a brick for brick recreation? A hint or flavor of the offline city? A new kind of experience? An online site meant for tourists and/or those considering relocating? A place to try out new ideas? A gathering place for current residents?
The Northwest suburban municipality — of Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl fame — has inked a two-year marketing partnership with the Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing team that will enable it to affix its business marketing tagline, logo and brand to the No. 6 Ford Mustang stock car during the NASCAR Chicago Street race events next year.
The announcement was made during the ninth Made in Elk Grove Manufacturing & Technology Expo at the high school. The daylong exhibition, awards and networking event highlights businesses within the village’s sprawling industrial park — which the village has sought to promote through several unconventional marketing sponsorships. The town sponsored the college football bowl game in 2018 and 2019, plus three USA Olympic teams last year.
“Elk Grove Village is home to the largest industrial park in North America. We’re surrounded by incredible transportation options and our town works hard to make this a destination for businesses,” Johnson said in a statement. “Partnering with RFK for a marquee race allows us to reach a huge audience with a partner that shares a passion in American business and manufacturing.”
Suburbs continue to market themselves in order to stand out from the hundreds of other suburban communities with which they might be competing. Lots of suburbs could say they have industrial space, nearby transportation options, and are business friendly. Fewer might be able to say they have “the largest industrial park,” sit near O’Hare Airport, within such a busy region for railroad traffic, and right next to major highways, and offer exactly what Elk Grove Village can offer businesses. This branding effort will help highlight these distinctive features.
But, the big question is whether this broader exposure translates into increased business and development activity in the community. Will those watching Brad Keselowski zoom around a track visit makerswanted.org in large numbers or relocate their firms to the suburb? Is it enough that the suburb might have an increased status but no change in activity?
“One of the things I love about Wakanda, if you notice, if you watch ‘Black Panther’ carefully, there’s the city, the city’s got all this mass transit and all this housing parks and all this stuff,” explained Chakrabarti, who wrote a book called “A Country of Cities: A Manifesto for an Urban America.” “And the moment you leave the city, you’re in farmland. And there’s this connection between rural life and urban life.”
He added: “I just think that is a really interesting paradigm to think about people, either living in super dense circumstances or really living in true rural hinterland and doing the things that we need everyone to do in farmland, which is grow our food and all of that stuff. And it would mean you would use a lot less land on this planet at the end of the day.”…
Whether major American cities ever transform from where we are today — heavily suburbanized and car-dependent — remains to be seen. But all we have to do is look to Wakanda for an idea of how our cities of the future could work.
I would argue that the American suburbs are popular, in part, because they appear to offer both features of city and rural life. Suburbanites like access to housing, jobs, and cultural amenities but they also want smaller communities and proximity to nature. With cars, they can on their own schedule access these features.
I remember the first time I saw in person this cleaner break between a city and rural areas. I had a chance to spend several days in Tokyo while in college. On one day, we took a train out of the city. As we moved at a high speed away from the city center, we suddenly moved from the denser city to fields. The same break could be seen from the air when flying in and out of the city.
This is not typically the case in the United States where suburbs might stretch for dozens of miles from the city limits before finally dwindling out. Moving more people into denser locations would indeed free up land or freezing development in metropolitan regions within an established boundary would do the same.
It is one thing to hold a paper map or look at a map in a book; it is another to encounter a map in the ground. In a recent trip to Holland, Michigan, I enjoyed seeing this map in the ground of a park overlooking Lake Michigan:
While the installation highlights the location of Holland, it also shows the size of Lake Michigan, one of the biggest freshwater lakes in the world.
Here is another in-ground map, this time just southwest of the main library in downtown Naperville, Illinois:
The large map hints at the sprawling nature of the suburb while you can also see some of the details the community feels are important (see some of them in the close-up image of the downtown).
A third in-ground map that made a memorable impression of me as a kid was the Mississippi River installation on Mud Island in Memphis, Tennessee. To walk the vast length of the river, see important points along the way, and even play in the water was much fun.
To make the abstract map more concrete provides an opportunity to share places with a broad range of people passing by and help them better visualize the whole and its parts.
Chief among those changes included introducing new data related to national heritage, languages spoken at home and religious diversity — in addition to the metrics we already gather on racial diversity. We also weighted these factors highly. While seeking places that are diverse in this more traditional sense of the word, we also prioritized places that gave us more regional diversity and strove to include cities of all sizes by lifting the population limit that we often relied on in previous years. This opened up a new tier of larger (and often more diverse) candidates.
With these goals in mind, we first gathered data on places that:
Had a population of at least 20,000 people — and no population maximum
Had a population that was at least 85% as racially diverse as the state
Had a median household income of at least 85% of the state median
To create Money’s Best Places to Live ranking for 2021-2022, we considered cities and towns with populations ranging from 25,000 up to 500,000. This range allowed us to surface places large enough to have amenities like grocery stores and a nearby hospital, but kept the focus on somewhat lesser known spots around the United States. The largest place on our list this year has over 457,476 residents and the smallest has 25,260.
We also removed places where:
the crime risk is more than 1.5x the national average
the median income level is lower than its state’s median
the population is declining
there is effectively no ethnic diversity
In 2021, the top-ranked communities tend to be suburbs. In 2022, there is a mix of big cities and suburbs with Atlanta at the top of the list and one neighborhood of Chicago, Rogers Park, at #5.
And this new city is growing in power. Never before have the questions of Athens and the questions of Jerusalem been mediated to us by such a great variety of things that vie for our attention and our desires. Silicon Valley, this third city, has altered the nature of the problem that Tertullian was wrestling with. The questions of what is true and what is good for the soul are now mostly subordinated to technological progress—or, at the very least, the questions of Athens and Jerusalem are now so bound up with this progress that it’s creating confusion…
If Tertullian were alive today, I believe he would ask: “What does Athens have to do with Jerusalem—and what do either have to do with Silicon Valley?” In other words, how do the domains of reason and religion relate to the domain of technological innovation and its financiers in Silicon Valley? If the Enlightenment champion Steven Pinker (a resident of Athens) walked into a bar with a Trappist monk (Jerusalem) and Elon Musk (Silicon Valley) with the goal of solving a problem, would they ever be able to arrive at a consensus?…
The extent to which people begin clustering in one of the three cities—the extent to which they isolate, fortify the walls, and close the gates—is the extent to which our culture suffers. Nobody can remain isolated in one city for long without losing perspective. Self-styled rationalists hostile to religion close themselves off from millennia of embedded wisdom (or they merely invent their own form of cult or religion, based on reason). Religion that doesn’t respect reason is dangerous because it denies a fundamental part of our humanity, and the detachment can result in extremism that, at its worst, can justify unreasonable or even violent practices in the name of God. And Silicon Valley’s excesses—like the now defunct company Theranos, the cult-building of Adam Neumann, or the technology bubble of the late ’90s—are characterized by a detachment from reason and a failure to recognize the secular forms of religiosity that led to those things happening in the first place…
The most important innovations of the coming decades will happen at the intersection of the three cities—and they will be created by the people who live there.
What makes a city? A denser population center with economic, political, and social activity.
In the discussion excerpted above, Silicon Valley sounds less like a population center and more like the locus of a particular idea or culture revolving around technology and utilitarianism. Can a sprawling area outside a major city truly be a city? Is there a geographic center to Silicon Valley? Are there public spaces used by many? Is there a unified government or social structure?
In cities across the United States, the development and construction of downtown high-rises is ongoing. This was one of my views of Los Angeles this weekend:
Who is funding such development? Who will purchase the spaces in these new buildings? How does it all fit within a metropolitan landscape marked by uneven development and residential segregation? Located near L.A. Live, Crypto.com Arena, and downtown Los Angeles, this is desirable property.
I don’t want this attention. Jersey’s bad reputation for being America’s garbage dump has done a great job of keeping people out and our blocks relatively affordable. For years, Jersey City was protected by a forcefield of bad representation. Jersey is by far America’s favorite punchline of a state. Futurama imagined America’s founding fathers dubbing New Jersey “our nation’s official joke state.” Movie after movie refers to Jersey as “the armpit of America.” Even in Marvel’s What If…?, Harold “Happy” Hogan laments the only escape from a zombie apocalypse: “Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse, we gotta go to Jersey.” MTV’s Jersey Shore continues to do a fantastic job of finding the best cast to represent the state and all it has to offer folks on the outside. Snookie and J-Wow knew exactly how to lay out the red carpet. The Sopranos also knew exactly how to showcase Jersey’s finest hospitality. Come for the bar fights, stay for the gabagool.
I would argue few places are depicted well on television or in films where the emphasis is usually on character and plots rather than on places, neighborhoods, and communities.
At the same time, certain locations can acquire a particular character through the way they are depicted over the years. Viewers might see only a particular perspective on or a portion of a place.
What would the average American think New Jersey is like based on what they have seen on screen?
If we consider the city a geophysical entity, we can think about being tocado as a uniquely historical form of relating with the Earth. Rather than Elena’s affliction being induced by a traumatic experience and a fear of future earthquake events, she and others fear the processes that were initiated by the earthquake: the grietas, the slumps, the leans, the fissures, the buildings collapsing years later…
This is a form of seismic time that is not only knowable through a seismic event. It’s a time that begins with an earthquake but continues through ongoing geophysical and political processes. Rather than a pathological individual condition or a culture-bound form of expression, we might see being tocado as an emergent form through which bodies, histories, legislations and earths come into relation. Deep time, in Mexico City, is resolutely present if you are compelled to notice.
Deep time might be a useful frame for contemporary analysis, a temporal literacy that places the long-term ramifications of the present moment into a deeper history. Conversely, such scales also risk subsuming deep time into the present.
Mexico City points toward something more physical, a sense of time that neither collapses the human and the geological nor holds them as irrevocably distinct. In their embodied apprehension of earthly processes, people who are tocado reveal that deep time is not only an analytic problem of scale, but a stranger temporal geometry, where homes are at once sites of security and indifferent geophysical entities. Deep time portals open in the city’s many cracks, slumps and fissures, revealing an inconceivable horizon forever rushing forward.
The modern city is often designed to avoid deep time or a deep understanding of the past. The modern city of the last two centuries often took existing land and communities and created a city on a new scale with new materials with new possibilities.
In this article, the primary point of departure from modern time are earthquakes that remind residents on what the city is constructed. Other features of cities that might do this could be other natural disasters, areas designed and established far before the advent of cars, ancient landmarks, and excavations that reveal the past.
But, I imagine many residents of such cities have limited interactions with a deep past. Take Chicago: what there would remind people of a deep past, let alone even a few hundred years before? And if residents and leaders did more regularly interact with the deep past, would they act differently in the cities that are now so important to modern life?
Just last week, a committee of city councillors discussed a report on eight yet-to-be-approved new suburbs, including a proposed community called “Nostalgia.”…
Tuscany? No offence to residents of this northwest suburb, but it has little in common with the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance.
Walden? Yes, there’s a pond — located a short drive from the McDonald’s, TacoTime and Save-On Foods. I doubt Thoreau would find much solitude.
And don’t get me started on Ambleton, currently under construction at the far north end of the city. As in, you can “amble” past monotonous rows of houses along Ambleside Avenue and Ambleton Street and other future roads with proposed names like Amblefield, Amblehurst and Ambledale…
These bad names are a shame because Calgary is rich in history and stories. Community names, which will outlast all of us, are a chance to show this off…
Calgary has long had a naming policy. Its current version states that community names “should either reflect Calgary’s heritage or local geographic feature(s) including flora and fauna, and/or further a sense of community.”
Yet, somehow, council approved a community named Cityscape, even after a 2013 city report said that name “could imply any part of Calgary,” and can be shortened to “City,” which is plain confusing.
The names of suburbs are indeed interesting to consider. They are marketing tools to differentiate a new community or subdivision from existing locations while also drawing from a similar playbook to not be too unusual within suburbia. They are often generic names intended to appeal to suburban values, whether that involves nature or nostalgia (perhaps literally as suggested above) or likeable destinations or middle-class values. Names can be changed later in a community’s existence, but this is not common.
It is intriguing that there is an official naming policy, even if it is applied inconsistently or could be improved. In the United States, subdivision names likely need approval from a municipality or whatever local government body approves the development. For a new suburb or community, someone considers that name. But, I have not run into written naming policies or guidelines in American contexts.