The 33 coolest streets in the world We quizzed 20,000 city-dwellers and asked local experts to rank the top streets in the world for food, fun, culture and community
1. Rue Wellington, Montreal
2. Gertrude Street, Melbourne
3. Great Western Road, Glasgow
4. Yongkang Street, Taipei
5. Værnedamsvej, Copenhagen
6. Karangahape Road, Auckland
7. Tai Ping Shan Street, Hong Kong
8. Yaowarat Road, Bangkok
9. Oranienstrasse, Berlin
10. Hayes Street, San Francisco
11. Avenida Ámsterdam, Mexico City
12. Kolokotroni, Athens
13. Virgil Avenue, Los Angeles
14. Ossington Avenue, Toronto
15. Via Provenza, Medellín
16. Calle Ocho, Miami
17. Deptford High Street, London
18. Praça das Flores, Lisbon
19. Oxford Street, Accra
20. Wentworth Avenue, Chicago
21. Cutting Room Square, Manchester
22. Capel Street, Dublin
23. Jumeirah Beach Road, Dubai
24. Enmore Road, Sydney
25. Kagurazaka, Tokyo
26. Kloof Street, Cape Town
27. Süleyman Seba Caddesi, Istanbul
28. Calle Echegaray, Madrid
29. MacDougal Street, New York
30. Carrer del Comte Borrell, Barcelona
31. Newbury Street, Boston
32. Colaba Causeway, Mumbai
33. Everton Road, Singapore
Kai Ryssdal: It’s not just me, right? I mean, public toilets have been disappearing in this country for a good, long while.
Elizabeth Yuko: Absolutely. It was something that I think came to our attention a bit more during the pandemic, especially the early days. But really, we haven’t seen the construction of new public restrooms — genuinely public restrooms, that is. So not restrooms that are in retail establishments, or theaters, or hotels, or bars, or restaurants, but actual facilities built by and maintained by either the city or the state. But yeah, the last major wave of those that were built was in the 1950s, during, you know, the expansion of the highways, and they were rest stops. In between the ’60s and ’80s, you saw a lot of closures for money reasons, because of concerns about crime or vandalism or drug use. And 9/11 really was the final nail in the coffin for a lot of the remaining public restrooms, and a lot have been closed since.
YMCA was founded by George Williams and 11 friends. George Williams was a London draper, who was typical of the young men drawn to the cities by the Industrial Revolution.
They were concerned about the lack of healthy activities for young men in major cities; the options available were usually taverns and brothels. Williams’ idea grew out of meetings he held for prayer and Bible-reading among his fellow workers in a business in the city of London, and on 6 June 1844, he held the first meeting that led to the founding of YMCA with the purpose of “the improving of the spiritual condition of young men engaged in the drapery, embroidery, and other trades.” Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 7th Earl of Shaftesbury served as YMCA’s first president from 1851 until his death in 1885.
By 1845, YMCA started a popular series of lectures held that went on to be held at Exeter Hall, London, from 1848, and the lectures started being published the following year, the series running until 1865.
YMCA was associated with Industrialisation and the movement of young people to cities to work. YMCA “combined preaching in the streets and the distribution of religious tracts with a social ministry. Philanthropists saw them as places for wholesome recreation that would preserve youth from the temptations of alcohol, gambling, and prostitution and that would promote good citizenship.”
Making Cities More Accessible
The second chapter posits that cities should encourage diversity, inclusion, and equality among their residents. That means ensuring that everyone has equal access to urban amenities, health care, education, employment, culture, leisure, sport, nature, and—perhaps most important—affordable housing. The authors note that 1.5 million people move into urban areas around the world every day, but many cannot afford to live close to urban opportunities and end up pushed to the fringes.
“I stumbled upon this statistic recently that in the urban areas of America it takes the median-income person 27 years on average to save up the 20% down payment to be able to buy a median-priced-owner apartment or condo in a city,” Ingels said. “So that means that hard-working, well-educated, by all standards successful and contributing citizens actually have a hard time getting access to owning a home, which of course is not the only way to have a life, but it’s been a good way to be anchored in a community, have a sense of ownership and belonging, to make a community less transient and therefore more sustainable, and to eventually make possibilities for later generations, so I think there’s something to be looked at in this entire value chain that provides the spaces we live in and that we call home that could need a 21st century upgrade.”
Cities also lose their livability, and open defecation becomes a threat to public health. Americans have painstakingly built new norms about dog owners picking up after their pets, but we’ve gone backward with human waste.
Meanwhile, it’s not just the homeless who suffer. Taxi drivers, delivery people, tourists and others are out and about all day, navigating a landscape that seems oblivious to the most basic of needs. The same is true of parents out with kids.
Americans have had tumultuous debates about transgender use of restrooms, but we haven’t adequately acknowledged a more fundamental failing in Democratic-run and Republican-run cities alike: the outrageous shortage of public restrooms generally.
From the comments:
“I guess all I can add to this piece is my personal remedy which I use in NYC, that being I find easily accessible restrooms on the ground floor of large hotels. It probably helps to dress like you might be a guest at the hotel, as you walk into the lobby.”
“Yet once you’ve come to be part of this particular patch, you’ll never love another. Like loving a woman with a broken nose, you may well find lovelier lovelies. But never a lovely so real.”
― Nelson Algren, Chicago: City on the Make
You remember all those gallows jokes about American cities-like: will the last person out of Cleveland please turn out the lights. And then things got worse-if you went by the numbers and the conversational pall around the basket case of urban America. The white folks left, and middle-class black folks, too; and jobs and business. One of the best of the big-city mayors Ed Rendell of Philadelphia said the cause was lost, because the doctor wasn’t treating a bullet wound; he was confronting rampant cancer, without resources.
So the cities were left for dead, and guess what happened? Paul Grogan says they got vastly better and will get better yet-on the strength of poor-people’s markets and politics, on the further fall of crime rates, and the bust-up of the top-down bureaucracies running public schools and public housing. The really promising secret is that, as the man in Chicago said: “people like it here.” Comeback Cities are this hour on the Connection.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)
The economy here is booming, but no one feels especially good about it. When the cost of living is taken into account, billionaire-brimming California ranks as the most poverty-stricken state, with a fifth of the population struggling to get by. Since 2010, migration out of California has surged.
The basic problem is the steady collapse of livability. Across my home state, traffic and transportation is a developing-world nightmare. Child care and education seem impossible for all but the wealthiest. The problems of affordable housing and homelessness have surpassed all superlatives — what was a crisis is now an emergency that feels like a dystopian showcase of American inequality.
America’s Cities Are Unlivable. Blame Wealthy Liberals, Farhad Manjoo, nytimes
Cheap stick framing has led to a proliferation of blocky, forgettable mid-rises—and more than a few construction fires.
These buildings wouldn’t be going up if no one wanted to move in, of course. Growing demand, brought on by demographic shifts, job-growth patterns, and a renewed taste among affluent Americans for city (or citylike) living, has shaped the mid-rise boom. So have the whims of capital. Most multifamily developers build to sell—to a real estate investment trust, an insurance company, a pension fund, or some other institutional investor. These owners aren’t interested in small projects, and their bottom-line focus determines not only materials but also appearance and layout.
The claim of that lawsuit—that a denser, more populous city might be an environmental hazard and should require environmental review—will sound familiar to pro-growth advocates in California. There, local NIMBYism has pushed housing demand into the desert, lengthening commutes and helping to turn transportation into the state’s largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.