What burrowing owls have to do with San Francisco's housing protests, a luxury apartment for horses in Manhattan, and Boston looks back on the transformation of its civic identity, one year later. Plus, a recap of Gizmodo's Utopia Week. Climb aboard this week's Urban Reads.

  • "If you're wondering why people are protesting you, how we got to this housing crisis, why rent control exists or why tech is even shifting to San Francisco in the first place, this is meant to provide some common points of understanding. This is a complex problem, and I'm not going to distill it into young, rich tech douchebags-versus-helpless old ladies facing eviction. There are many other places where you can read that story." A must-read explainer by Kim-Mai Cutler on San Francisco's housing crisis [TechCrunch]
  • How executive headquarters are bringing back architectural clout to cities, but not necessarily jobs [New Geography]
  • The city of Lancaster, on the fringes of Los Angeles County, revitalized its downtown with a few simple but sweeping changes [Granola Shotgun]
  • All 43 public parklets and street plazas in San Francisco, mapped [Curbed SF]
  • One year later, Boston reclaims its Marathon, and its public spaces [Boston Globe]
  • Self-driving cars, check! Air conditioned roads, hmmm. How Disney imagined the future of American highways 50 years ago [Atlantic Cities]
  • "The newest residences at Mercedes House, a ziggurat of luxury rentals on Manhattan's Far West Side, provide tenants with creature comforts found nowhere else in the city. Special flooring soothes legs weary from a long day's work. Ten-foot-high doors offer easy passage between spacious rooms. A high-tech ventilation system eliminates even the worst odors. Most crucially, there's a state-of-the-art hayloft." The only apartment building in the country that houses horses [New York Times]
  • Watch London's skyline evolve in this set of historical paintings, drawings, and photos [Guardian Cities]
  • Did construction workers just uncover L.A.'s original aqueduct? Gizmodo's Southland sub-blog takes a look [Southland]
  • Finally, last week we covered Frank Lloyd Wright's unbuilt Broadacre City, creepy New Urbanism, World's Fair flashbacks, vegetarian octagon houses, multiple cults, and much more as part of Utopia Week here at Gizmodo. If you missed any of the stories, check them out right here.

Top photo by Folkert Gorter; check out his photos on Flickr. Have an image you'd like to share? Tag it #gizmodocities and we'll be in touch if we want to publish it.