On this week's podcast, we're talking about why cities can save the world – and how they can ruin your life.
In 2013, the American political theorist Benjamin Barber wrote a book arguing that mayors should rule the world, because they're better placed to solve the world's problems than national government. So why, we ask, does the job seem to attract flamboyant characters like London's Boris Johnson and Toronto's Rob Ford?
We also discuss the way that, by both accident and design, cities can crush communities as well as create them. Barbara talks to anthropologist Diana Wall, who has been campaigning for a memorial to Seneca Village, the African American community destroyed in the 1850s to make way for Central Park.
And I talk to Michael Bird, our occasional Bucharest correspondent, about a nightclub fire that brought down the Romanian government – and about how the city lives under the constant threat of an earthquake. (You can find links to all these stories below.)
Right. Those links we talked about:
- New York destroyed a village full of African-American landowners to create Central Park
- Nicusor Dan: The mild-mannered maths researcher who wants to save Bucharest from corruption
- The hole in Bucharest that’s become a nature reserve
- Rubeena Mahato's article from December 2014 on the earthquake threat hanging over Kathmandu. The quake hit the following April.
- Finally, for our map of the week segment this week, we take Berlin. For one thing, municipal streetlight design means you can see Berlin's east west divide from space...
...and here's another story, about five things we learned from maps of the Berlin Wall.