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Here are our best articles on history and futurology

This week is CityMetric’s birthday. So, in an act of immense self-indulgence, we’re re-promoting some of our favourites of the 1,200 articles we’ve published in our first year online.

Today, it’s stories about the past, stories about the future, and stories we just really liked.



5 things we learned from maps of the Berlin Wall

White papers from our partners

CityMetric staff

A quarter of a century ago, the Berlin Wall was torn down, rejoining two cities into one. Cartographers responded in different ways to the wall’s erection and destruction.


New York’s secret history

Barbara Speed

New York destroyed a village full of African-American landowners to create Central Park.


An economic history of the north of England

Stephen Caunce

The region stretching across the Pennines, from Liverpool to Hull, is all but unique. How did it get that way?


ISIS is bulldozing some of the world’s first cities. Here’s what we’re losing

Paul Collins

Within days of Islamic State releasing a video showing their destruction of sculptures in the Mosul museum and the ancient city of Nineveh, reliable reports emerged that the obliteration of Iraq’s past had expanded to include the architectural treasures of Nimrud and Hatra, too.



The great “solar freakin’ roadways” debate

Barbara Speed

Back in 2006, a couple from Idaho formed a small company named “Solar Roadways Incorporated”. They wanted to replace every road, car park, driveway, pavement and patio in America with solar panels.


Shadow-free skyscrapers. Image: NBBJ.

How can we build skyscrapers without throwing cities into shadow?

Barbara Speed

There are around 250 tall towers currently planned for London’s skyline. Unless they’re planned carefully, they’ll start throwing shadows across ever-growing swathes of the city.


This is why we should be farming in skyscrapers

Barbara Speed

As the world’s overall population increases, aren’t we going to run out of flat space to farm?


And the rest

“Enough empty floor space to cover Madrid”

Wade Shephard

So why are China’s ghost cities still unoccupied?


Are water shortages the biggest threat to the Middle East?

Karim Elgendy

Saudi Arabia alone burns 1.5m barrels of oil every day to desalinate water, an amount equivalent to the daily oil consumption of Italy.


Radical architects, skyscraper slums and informal cities

Barbara Speed

An interview with Justin McGuirk.


The bed bug pandemic: a personal reflection

Jonn Elledge

For three months in 2012, we had bed bugs. It was bloody horrible.
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