Slowly I turned, step by step, inch by inch

Recently I discovered the existence of a new kind of streetcar - the Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit tram, which has been dubbed ART. The system was developed in China and is trackless - it operates on existing streets (!!). The system has a cost of about one tenth (!!!) of railbound streetcars and it can … Continue reading Slowly I turned, step by step, inch by inch

Playing with Trains

We’ve just enjoyed a screening of Stephen Low’s wonderful documentary entitled “The Trolley” here in our city. The theater was packed, and while Mr. Low’s film compellingly advocates in favor of streetcars, in fact defines them as critical to our urban future, I heard no voices expressing doubt about his point of view. Bring on … Continue reading Playing with Trains

A Double Decker Surprise

Tomorrow evening here in Rochester, our city's very active and helpful transportation advocacy group, Reconnect Rochester, will screen Canadian Stephen Low's brief  (46 minutes) documentary entitled "The Trolley." We had the good fortune to see this film in an IMAX theater in Ottawa last year, and Low tells a powerful tale of trolleys as essential … Continue reading A Double Decker Surprise

The Song is Ended, But the Melody Lingers On

The intersection of South Clinton and Bly, in Rochester. The green and tan building on the right of Bly is early - from before 1890. The red building on the left of Bly dates from around 1915. Recognizable? It should be - it is almost certainly present in your city - perhaps right around the corner. Even now … Continue reading The Song is Ended, But the Melody Lingers On

Thinking About Melbourne

As we wander around the world looking for cities that can teach us Rochesterians a thing or two about good urbanism, we occasionally stumble across places that are sufficiently astonishing that they must be shared. And so, herewith is a peek at Melbourne, Australia. Melbourne, looking north from Port Phillip Bay and the Tasmanian Ferry … Continue reading Thinking About Melbourne

The Streetcar City – II

Staib's Saloon, Blossom and Winton, 1913. Of course it was an imperfect arrangement. Streetcars in cities were an important, even critical, part of early 20th century urban life, but like any human conception, not without the occasional flaw. Like the one above, when a streetcar crashed through the front door of Staib's Saloon. Perhaps the motorman … Continue reading The Streetcar City – II

Unfolding the City – Memory’s Maps

1923, Edgerton Park. Max Frisch, Swiss novelist (and architect) once said, "Time does not change us. It just unfolds us." True, I think. Like maps, our lives unfold until all is revealed. And so it is with cities, as we unfold the stories of their places time after time. I have been unfolding the stories of a particular … Continue reading Unfolding the City – Memory’s Maps

A Busman’s Holiday

Despite the bad news about cars and the cities they have ruined, we can report that we saw some amazing transit systems during our recent walkabout. Okay fellow transit nerds, herewith, three examples. In Hong Kong, we delighted in riding the double-decker streetcars. The system, now over 100 years old, is wholly owned by a … Continue reading A Busman’s Holiday

Choices, Consequences

In the never-ending process of building and rebuilding our cities, we make choices about what's important - where we live, where we work, how we get from place to place. Every choice we make is accompanied by consequences, some intended, some not. And some of the nastiest consequences of our rottenest choices stay with us in … Continue reading Choices, Consequences