A couple of books on Cities and Transportation

GTC-151230tnBack in October, I posted about attending the National Shared Mobility Summit, and mentioned sitting in on a session with a couple of authors, whose books sounded interesting enough for me to hit up their publishers for review copies (I have a long-running book review blog, with 700 or so books featured). Since then, I have read and reviewed both of these, and that’s the focus of this post.

The first of these is Gabe Klein’s Start-Up City: Inspiring Private and Public Entrepreneurship, Getting Projects Done, and Having Fun, which is a somewhat muddled mix of an autobiography (while Mr. Klein is a bit too old to be a Millennial, he’s certainly job-hopped like one), and a visionary look at how cities work. One of the stops on his rather crowded C.V. was being the head of Chicago’s Department of Transportation for a couple of years in Mayor Emmanuel’s first term. While the stories of various projects around the country are interesting, there’s an obvious draw to the ones based here … which include the re-development of the River Walk, the DIVVY program, and pushing through the still-not-in-service monster bus shelters (and red lanes) in the Loop. The book is also a bit oddly formatted, looking like something of a travel guide in a square lay-out, and extensively illustrated with photos, etc.

The other is Samuel I. Schwartz’s Street Smart: The Rise of Cities and the Fall of Cars which, while based on the author’s experiences in New York City, is a more general history of how the car over-took (and redefined) the country, and how that is beginning to change. The stories here go back, both further due to the author’s age (he grew up in Brooklyn, and has reminiscences about life there before the Dodgers left), and looking at the history of roads, funding of roads, and construction of roads, bridges, etc. in the U.S. over the years. Unlike Klein’s book, the one thing I was itching for while reading this was more illustrations … I really wish that Schwartz or his publisher had made the effort to dig into photo archives to show pictures of the various places under discussion – while the prose is delightful this would have been a much more satisfying read if it came with pictures of the bridges, etc. that were being described.

Anyway … this is going to get way too “meta” if I’m writing about what I already wrote about the books, so go ahead and click through on those links to my review site and get the full look at these. If you’re interested in transportation, and how cities got to where they are now, and where they may be going, I think you’ll enjoy both books.

Oh, and, by the way, this post was triggered by a ChicagoNow “Blogapalooz-Hour”, where the ChicagoNow bloggers are challenged to write a blog on a particular theme – tonight’s was to write about a particular choice we’d made in 2015 … mine was to get this post done tonight (I’d been trying to “get to it” for weeks) rather than blowing it off until January / next year!

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