A beautiful look at the U.S.-Mexico border, how American cities are turning into "play deserts," and where you'll find the real roots of the tech industry. Plus a pizza-funded religious community in Florida, a farm on Staten Island, and where rich dogs poop, all in this week's Urban Reads.

  • NPR walked and drove all 2,428 miles of the border between the U.S. and Mexico to produce an incredibly beautiful project called Borderland [NPR]
  • Cities like Chicago are mounting initiatives to make themselves more attractive to kids—or, more specifically, to their parents—to avoid becoming "play deserts" where no one wants to live [Governing]
  • Are the Bay Area's widely maligned tech buses really better for the environment? (Yep, they are—a lot better) [Mother Jones]
  • Everyone thinks the tech industry was born in Silicon Valley, but the roots of the research park actually originated in Southern California with the founders of Caltech, JPL, and—yes—Scientology [KCET]
  • "Coincidentally there was a bike store nearby, and I ran to borrow a lock. I put it on my bike and called the police. Three police cars came, and the bar emptied. The new owner of the bike was there. And me. And about 20 other people." A brave woman publicly confronts her bike thief [Washington Post]
  • A photo essay of Ave Maria, the Catholic planned community in Florida founded by the former CEO of Domino's Pizza [Wired]
  • Exploring the New York City Farm Colony, a 70-acre complex of early-1900s buildings, some of which may be demolished for a residential development [Curbed NY]
  • "My last stop of the day was in a glassy high-rise building full of new condos, facing the Hudson. First I gathered the shaky, ailing poodle Lulu, who shat so slowly and painfully that a woman in Tribeca paused to chastise me: 'Pull it out, pull it out!' And I did, with a plastic-gloved hand, because I was so cowed by her casual knowledge and directness regarding my job, for which I was so poorly equipped." Walking the dogs of the rich [The Bill Fold]
  • A profile of Iwan Baan, the "Indiana Jones of architectural photography" [WSJ]
  • Fertility rates are declining all over the world—not just in rich countries—but this is actually nothing to worry about [New York Times]

Top image is by Alan Weeks via the Metro Library and Archive. Let us know your guess for what city it is—and a bonus question: What year?—in the comments.