Water Slides, Preservation, Ebola: What's Ruining Our Cities This Week

Los Angeles ponders the ethics of slip-and-sliding in a drought. UNESCO is being blamed for killing the cities it protects. Ebola is slowly decimating village by village in Africa. It's this week's look at What's Ruining Our Cities.

A (proposed) water slide is ruining Los Angeles

Urban water slides are super fun (we've written about a few ourselves) unless the city you want to slip-and-slide through is facing the worst drought in recorded history. In Los Angeles, over 6,000 people have signed a petition against one such water slide, which is planned to unfurl along a downtown street on September 27. Organizer T.R. Gourley says that the slide will use up to 16,000 gallons of water, which he mentioned is the same size as a small pool. While I'm sure there's a way to do this responsibly, it probably sends the wrong message. Meanwhile, thousands of Californians are dumping gallons of ice water on their heads. [Los Angeles Times]

UNESCO is ruining historic sites

Declaring an aging city a UNESCO World Heritage site is usually a cause for celebration, as the attention also brings local government the funding and preservation efforts it needs. But a particularly scathing attack from Marco D'Eramo in this month's Domus accuses UNESCO of turning vibrant historic cities into overprotected corpses: "Its touch is lethal: wherever the UNESCO hallmark is applied to a city, the city dies out, becoming the stuff of taxidermy." While he makes a point—and a very thorough one, listing dozens of World Heritage sites and how they've been transformed—there must be a certain level of protection for these places. However, turning them into Disney-like theme parks is not the answer. [Domus]

Ebola is ruining African villages

The two U.S. patients infected with Ebola left Atlanta hospitals healthy today, giving the country a huge sigh of relief. Not so the African country of Sierra Leone, where the disease has claimed at least 300 lives, wiping out entire households and creating a culture of fear. Residents are abandoning villages where the outbreak has struck particularly hard, and quarantines and road closures are putting more people's health at risk by cutting off much-needed supplies. This heartbreaking video shows a nation in crisis, with no end in sight. [New York Times]

Update: Hashtags are saving Paris bridges

Here's a somewhat helpful update to our previous story about the "love locks" weighing down Paris bridges: The City of Love has launched a campaign encouraging would-be romantics to eschew the locks in favor of a selfie + hashtag combination that will immortalize their bond. #lovewithoutlocks is the proposed way to tag your image and forever ensure that your love will be eternal, at least on Instagram. [Betabeat]