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This week’s city reading: Detroit stays flawed, Mexico City kills parking minimums, corporations flee the suburbs

The new Detroit’s fatal flaw (Heather Ann Thompson, Washington Post) “Way back in July of 1967, just before that infamous evening when Detroit went up in flames, city boosters had been feeling pretty optimistic about the Motor City’s future. Detroit, then the nation’s fifth-largest city, was a metropolis that epitomized all that postwar America had to offer. Home to the Big Three automakers, it boasted higher-paying jobs for working people than many other cities. The Federal Housing Administration helped its residents enjoy unusually high rates of homeownership. Charismatic leaders all worked together to keep the wheels of the Motor City turning smoothly and unceasingly toward a more prosperous future.”

‘This is definitely a moment’: Olympics crown LA’s remarkable renaissance (Rory Carroll, The Guardian) “The renaissance comes amid a challenging time for New York, which has long scorned LA as a rival for America’s greatest city. Having lost a bid to host the 2012 Olympics to London, New York is now enduring a ‘summer of hell’ on its crumbling subway, prompting authorities to declare a state of emergency. This did not stop the New York Times poking fun at LA nabbing the 2028 Games, asking if this would herald new Olympic events such as ‘longest juice cleanse’ or “least original movie idea’.”

A generational failure: As the U.S. fantasizes, the rest of the world builds a new transport system (Yonah Freemark, The Transport Politic) “It’s actually not that complicated to conduct transport policy in a manner that adapts to change. You don’t need competitions to gather the input of ‘geniuses.’ You don’t need magical new technologies when we have systems that work today. You don’t need to encourage speculation from the private sector, whose primary interest is in making high returns on their investment, not the public interest. You need a (reasonably) long-term commitment to individual projects, across political lines and among multiple political jurisdictions. You need to amass the public resources to pay for them. And then you need a competent workforce to design, construct, and operate the lines. American society has not shown itself capable of any of those things.”

Mexico City Is Killing Parking Spaces. Pay Attention, America (Aarian Marshall, Wired) “Mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera Espinosa this month announced a new policy that limits how many parking spaces builders can build. He hopes to spur development, which sounds counterintuitive. Without parking spaces, where will commuters rest their rides? But it turns out sprawling parking lots and looming garages can actually create more traffic and make housing less affordable and city streets more difficult to navigate.”

Corporations are leaving suburbs: Can anything reverse the trend? (Patrick Sisson, Curbed) “One of the most interesting aspects (and potentially troubling takeaways for suburban mayors) of the Core Values report is that all manner of companies are making the move downtown: tech giants, startups, Fortune 500 firms, small businesses. Of the nearly 500 companies included in the report, 245 had relocated from a suburban location. The shift has been fast, pitting suburbs—and even tech hubs—against other top-tier urban areas.”

Updating Toronto’s Architecture Bible (Mark Byrnes interviewing Alex Bozikovic, Citylab) “People who actively love Toronto as an urban place have mostly been downtowners who live in old, pre-Modern houses from a time when Toronto was a low-rise city, so that’s how they think of Toronto. But it’s equally a city of high-rises and it’s taking a while for that to sink in, culturally. You’re missing a lot of Toronto’s story by not paying attention to the modern city because that’s when everything really happened here.” (See also my own interview with Alex Bozikovic on Notebook on Cities and Culture.)