The Yangon Circular Railway is the local commuter rail network in Yangon, Myanmar. In this recording, World Bank Country Manager Kanthan Shankar boards the train on a three-hour ride around the city. "You see a panorama of life unfolding before you and you feel a part of the picture," he says, reflecting on the daily lives of the people in Yangon, "There's a huge opportunity for commerce and private sector growth. Yangon and Myanmar is lucky that it has basic infrastructure in place. It's a matter of rehabilitating these and aiming for a smoother ride to pave the way for commerce,"
“What attributes do you want your city to possess in 2025?”
As the share of the global population living in cities soars beyond 50%, answering this question is central for sustainable development. It is also central to Warren Evans, Senior Advisor at the World Bank, who is leading a study on what role the World Bank should play in sustainable development in 2025. But he agreed with us that it’s a question too often posed to senior decision makers. To instead find out what youth want their cities to look like – after all, they will be the ones in charge by then – Julianne and I ran a series of participatory workshops with professional and low-income youth, aged 15 to 30, to solicit their responses. We held at least three workshops in each of the four cities we visited – Tokyo, Manila, Bangkok, and Washington DC – with 10-20 participants per session. The workshops were comprised of three activities:
- Describe your city: in a word. Participants shared a word or a phrase defining where they were from.
There is no such thing as a free dessert. At a recent dinner party all guests had to declare a favorite city before the cheese cake and coffee. With time running out I hastily picked São Paulo (see past blog). Not at the dinner, but with me during my last visit to São Paulo, Abha, Alexandra and Judy were quick to send comments, questioning my choice of São Paulo and offering thoughts on alternative favorites.
Similar to how Italo Calvino’s ‘Invisible City’ reveals 55 views of cities through a conversation between Kublai Khan and Marco Polo, here with input from the three wise women, and others who responded to the blog, the celebration of cities continues.
One of the best things about living in Washington DC is riding your bike to work, early in the morning, past the blossoming cherry trees along the tidal basin. Sometimes you have to actually stop for a moment, the trees are so beautiful. Thank you, Governor (Mayor) Ozaki Yukio: He gave the trees to the up and coming Washington DC in 1912.
This year is the 100th anniversary of the City of Tokyo’s original gift of 3020 cherry trees. You would be hard pressed to find a more perfect gift, or a more perfect example of how the cities we live in, and the globally-minded ones overseas, improve our day-to-day quality of life.
I’m not Catholic. Not even much of a practicing Christian, but I must confess I felt a little chill the other night walking past Köln’s Cathedral. Not from the cold of the night, nor from fear. My engaging German hosts had just informed me the Cathedral was built with sufficient grandeur to house the relics of the Three Magi spirited away from Milan in 1164. For hundreds of years pilgrims from around the world have converged on the Cathedral, adding to the 20,000 visitors a day. The site is sacred and steeped in history. For a few years it was even the tallest building in the world until eclipsed by the Washington Monument in 1884. I couldn’t escape the Cathedral’s history as we walked past it on this cool, clear October night.
Civil Engineering students graduate knowing at least three things: you can’t push a rope, gravity never takes a day off, and a three-legged table won’t wobble. They are now learning a fourth: You can’t build a city without civility.
Civil engineers are largely responsible for our built environment. Generally they’re a studious and busy lot; and they are about to get a lot busier – in the next twenty years they have to help build cityscapes for about 2 billion new urban residents. But today what’s needed even more than civil engineers is more civility. A few recent examples, big and small, come to mind.
News story by Hannah Bae, Seoul
Near Seoul, a new city rises from the mud flats, aiming to become a world model of sensor-activated, computer-driven management of an entire city.
SONGDO, South Korea – Designed as a “city within a city” – in this case, the port city of Incheon, just west of South Korea’s capital in Seoul – the Songdo urban development is expected to become a bustling hub of efficient global commerce, education and research and development.
What happens when you build a city from scratch – or, rather, from mud flats?
The result isn’t instantaneous. Right now – the spring of 2011 – the reality, following more than $10 billion of the estimated eventual $35 billion invested over seven and a half years of construction, is clusters of skyscrapers amid a giant construction site, only just starting to show signs of life.
However, 2011 will be a big year for Songdo, as the city takes major steps toward becoming one of the most technologically advanced urban spaces in the world.
This blog is written in response to a generous and humbling offer by the urban anchor at the World Bank to present my book on the Evolution of Great World Cities (Kennedy, 2011). Having provided occasional assistance to the Bank over the past few years, I realized how big a challenge this may be. The Bank has brainpower akin to an Ivy League university, and is a large organization with so many endeavours that are hard for me to keep abreast of. Nonetheless, while tackling enormously complex development challenges, the clear objective of the Bank is to help with the elimination of poverty. Given that my book is primarily about stinking rich cities, there’s a chance that I could completely miss my audience! There again, the rapid rate of urbanization in the developing world provides such a huge opportunity to bring millions out of poverty, if planned well - and many cities in the developing world no doubt aspire to be great world cities.
The number of motorcycles in many Latin American cities, such as São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia and Bogotá, has grown much faster than the automobile fleet in recent years. In many Asian cities, motorcycles and three-wheeled vehicles are the primary modes on urban roads.
I just returned from São Paulo, perhaps the third biggest metropolitan area in the world with a population of 18 million and an endless vista of apartment towers and commercial buildings in almost any direction from the center. The traffic problems are large and reported in the daily newspapers as the peak number of kilometers of the main road network in congested conditions (equivalent to LOS F). This indicator tends to range between 100 and 200 km for any given day