Is Google Glass really "killing cities" or just the douchebags who wear them? Are mines bringing cities down—literally? Is the Bowery doomed? Is Berlin really over? We examine these questions and more, in this week's edition of What's Ruining Our Cities.
It's always fun to blame technology companies for your own personal problems, isn't it? A woman named Sarah Slocum was harassed at a San Francisco bar for wearing Google Glass: A woman flipped her off and told her "You're killing the city," then another guy tore the glasses (Glass?) off her face and ran away. He brought them back, but her purse and phone were stolen by someone else. It's all captured on video—recorded through Slocum's Google Glass, of course—and Slocum took to Twitter, begging Google to pay for her trip to SXSW to make up for the indignity. Because it's all their fault. [New Yorker, Valleywag]
Mines seem to cause all sorts of trouble in our cities–but the ones beneath Kiruna, Sweden, the country's northernmost town, are a particular problem. An iron mine below the city has slowly started to devour the town from below, requiring engineers to move the entire city two miles to the east. Yes, they are moving it: "More than 3,000 apartment blocks and houses, several hotels and 2.2 million square-feet of office, school and hospital space will be emptied over the next two decades—while alternatives are built on the new site." We've posted about Kiruna before, but work will finally begin next month on the gargantuan project, which includes dismantling a historic church and reassembling it piece by piece. [BBC News]
When the Ace Hotel announced this week that it was opening a second New York City location, the news was not terribly surprising to anyone. The location is upsetting to some, though: They're taking over the Salvation Army building on New York's Bowery, one of the last and largest operations serving the local homeless population. This may symbolize the final hipster nail in the final gentrification coffin for the neighborhood: "It's been happening for years, of course; some might even say for a century or more. The Bowery, a street that's older than Broadway, has lived several lives since the days when it led the way to Peter Stuyvesant's farm. Now it leads the way to overpriced farm-fresh produce at a Whole Foods encased in glass. And you know what? It's the hipsters' fault." [Gizmodo]
Berlin is over, declared Rolling Stone, The New York Times, and even our own Gawker over the last few weeks. But you won't see any Berliners crying into their Weissbier about the news. They've struggled with the influx of clueless tourists and obtuse transplants who come here to party, drive up the rents, and contribute nothing to the local culture—they just want things to get back to normal. "Across the board, claims that Berlin is waning as the apogee of cool have been greeted not with dismay, but with glee." [Atlantic Cities]
Illinois Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Rochelle, shows off his Google glasses to lawmakers while on the House floor during session at the Illinois State Capitol Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014, in Springfield, Ill. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)