Got an Idea for How to Make Cities Better?

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Hugo E. Chaves/City Limits

In Miami and other American cities, the conversation has changed from mitigating disaster to managing success. But there's a lot to manage.
It wasn't long ago that putting the prefix "urban-" before a word was like putting "-industrial complex" after it: Whatever the rest of the term was, it was going to be bad. Urban poverty was somehow worse than other poverty, urban crime scarier than the suburban or rural variety. Urban contemporary music was ... well, you get the point.

As anyone trying to rent a New York City apartment will tell you, that's changed. Cities have become much more appealing destinations. According to the Brookings Institution, from 2010-2012, the growth of population in America's largest cities outpaced that of suburbs for the first time since the 1920s.

Brooklyn Hate Crime Spike: Cause and Effect

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KCDA/City Limits

District Attorney Kenneth Thompson
There's word today that Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson is stepping up hate crimes enforcement in the wake of a string of distressing bias incidents in Kings County.

The recent spike notwithstanding. Brooklyn traditionally leads the state in hate crimes reports. As Chris Giblin reported last year at, "Brooklyn is home to 32 percent of New York City's population but reports 43 percent of the city's hate crimes. One in 12 New York State residents lives in Brooklyn but one in five of the state's hate crimes occur in the borough."

NYC Subway Scare Has Echoes of 2005 Alert

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Office of the Governor/City Limits

New York City Transit president Tom Prendergast accompanied Gov. Cuomo on a brief subway ride Thursday.
One fully packed A train can hold more than 2,100 people—four times the capacity of the largest jetliner in the world and just shy of what the Titanic carried. That's the beauty of mass transit. It's also one reason why New York's subway system will always be a potential terrorist target: because in addition to shutting down a system that serves millions every day and is a symbol of metropolitan living, an attack could kill a lot of people in the underground.

But this week, as was the case eight years ago, a public announcement turned that general risk into a more immediate worry.

Jails, Vacant Lots and Politics: It's What's for Breakfast

Listen to's latest early morning appearance on WBAI, where we discussed the Rikers Island scandal, the potential tension between community gardeners and affordable housing developers, and more.

Got something you'd like me to discuss on air? Let me know.

In Wheelchairs, They Marched to Stop Climate Change

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Sarah Mortimer/City Limits

Some marched through Manhattan last week. Others rolled. Their message: As terrifying as climate-change induced superstorms are for everyone, they're that much more so when you depend on wheels to move or electricity to breathe.
There are over 900,000 disabled people living in New York City, all of whom stand more at risk as temperatures rise and weather conditions becomes more unpredictable.

During storms Irene and Sandy, thousands of disabled New Yorkers discovered that the city was unprepared to accommodate their needs during extreme weather emergencies. The latter storm left many disabled residents trapped inside their homes, cut off from food and water and in some cases, unable to access life support systems, such as ventilators.

Both Sides in Atlantic Yards Dispute Believe in Modular

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FCRC/ESDC/City Limits

Et tu, B2? Forest City says it is determined to get the residential tower built.
Earlier this week we mentioned the legal dispute between Atlantic Yards developer Forest City Ratner and the construction firm Skanska over B2, the residential tower next to the Barclays Center that was supposed to become the tallest building in the world built with modular construction.

While skeptics questioned whether modular building can work on that scale, others see in the approach potential that goes beyond one corner in Brooklyn. With land dwindling, any approach to new housing development in New York City has to contemplate high-density, high-rise design. But building tall buildings is complex and expensive. Modular offers a way to do it cheaper--and cheaper buildings are easier to subsidize in a way that actually makes rents affordable.

Beer and Politics Mix on TV

"Straight Up," Brooklyn Independent Media's delightfully looser take on the traditional reporter roundtable, will be out with its second installment at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, September 23.

It features yours truly, DNAinfo's Jeff Mays and the Observer's Jillian Jorgensen discussing race, policing and politics at the beautiful yet unpretentious Emerson's bar in Clinton Hill.

Watch it here, live ...


Atlantic Yards Modular Dispute Could Have Citywide Echo

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ESDC/FCRC/City Limits

B2, in the foreground, seen in materials on the website of the Empire State Development Corporation.
The dust-up between Forest City Ratner Company and Skanska is, at its essence, a business dispute involving conflicting claims about a single building. But could the episode have broader implications for affordable housing in the city?

The beef boils down to this: Skanksa and Forest City got together to build B2, a residential tower at the Atlantic Yards site that was to be the tallest structure in the word built with modular construction. But now the two companies are trading barbs over who is to blame for delays at the site, with Forest City pegging it on incompetence by Skanska and Skanska attributing it to flaws in Forest City's designs.

A New Yorker, Terrified of ISIS

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Department of Defense/City Limits

A Pentagon photo from 2010, as the U.S. occupation of Iraq was winding down.
By all rights, a different byline should appear on this post, but the writer has said that would be risky. The writer assisted American journalists during the U.S. war, then escaped to New York in 2006, but left family behind. Persistent violence has prevented a visit home. Bureaucracy appears to have stymied efforts to bring the family here. Now the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria introduces a new dimension of distance and fear, rendering any cooperation—past or present—with American media perilous. Here is what our friend writes:

Take Our Reader Survey

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J. Murphy/City Limits has been around since 1976, surviving five mayors, the end of disco, several recessions and--so far anyway--the digital revolution. That's only true because throughout those 38-plus years, there has been a readership that cared about the journalism we do.

Whether you've been a reader since the Ford administration, or landed here for the first time today hoping to find the number for the City Limits diner in White Plains, we want to know what you think--of what we do now and don't do now, and what we could or shouldn't do in the future.

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