Pinball, Swords, Bad Air: What's Not Ruining Our Cities This Week

Long-suffering pinball fans can finally play free in Oakland. Swords are being returned to their rightful owners in New York City. And America is breathing better air than we have in a decade. Sometimes we like to look at the brighter side of urban life. It's our peek at What's Not Ruining Our Cities Anymore.

Pinball is no longer ruining Oakland

Pinball wizards of Oakland, you don't have to hide anymore. Or maybe you never knew yu needed to. To great surprise of almost everyone, it turns out pinball was illegal in the city THIS WHOLE TIME. Yes, the game was banned thanks to an archaic law instituted 80 years ago when pinball machines were seen as a type of slot machines, complete with seedy characters accepting massive payouts from bars. The ban wasn't really enforced, as pinball machines are rampant across the Bay Area, but the city thought it was finally time to take the law off the books. Funnily enough, the city might also be banning other forms of video gambling. Maybe in 80 years, we'll be laughing about that. [Time]

Missing swords are no longer ruining New York City

Walking through New York City in the last few years, you might have noticed that some of the statues were incomplete. Now a few Revolutionary War generals are looking more like themselves again thanks to an effort by the Parks Department to restore their weapons. The swords began disappearing in the 1960s, when the city was dangerous and crime rates were high. Officials decided not to replace them, mostly because they thought they'd be stolen again, and partly because they thought they might be used to chop someone's head off. Now, a safer New York City has ushered in a return of the weapons, with officials restoring swords three statues in the last 14 years. [DNAinfo]

Air pollution is not ruining American cities (as much)

There's some good news, or, at least, some better news when it comes to the air we breathe. NASA's Aura satellite has been documenting air quality from space for the last decade, and scientists have documented a definite decrease in nitrogen dioxide—that lovely toxic yellow-brown gas pollutant that's most dangerous to humans and is also a good indicator of air quality overall. The nitrogen dioxide has decreased by as much as 42 percent in cities like New York, mostly thanks to a reduction in vehicle miles driven. [Gizmodo]

Top image by Gregory Wild-Smith