Taras Grescoe presents a transit-oriented travelogue of ten global cities in his 2012 book Straphanger: Saving Our Cities and Ourselves from the Automobile. While Grescoe advocates strongly for public transportation, he has intentionally chosen to visit locations where transit has stagnated and conduct interviews with people who fervently believe in the superiority of private automobility. For the transit-curious reader, this book presents a broad and detailed picture of the state of the industry in large cities in the Americas, Asia & Europe.
We fool ourselves into thinking that the problems of the today’s cities are isolated to the present era. In Paris Reborn, Stephane Kirkland examines the wholesale rebuilding of Paris during the French Second Empire (1852-1870) when the political, economic, and social forces aligned to allow Napoleon III to implement an unprecedented vision for urban modernization. This enormous project would have been impossible without Georges-Eugène Haussmann, the prefect of the Seine.
What struck me was how many of the issues facing Paris over a century and a half ago are still relevant in our contemporary debates about urban places.