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Community / Public space

Mapping Hong Kong's walled city, the one-way street dilemma and the Eiffel Tower's secret apartment

Our weekly round-up of city stories we enjoyed elsewhere.

One way or another

According to this blog at the Washington Post, far from effectively managing traffic, one way streets tend to be disastrous. Wider ones attract drug deals – as it’s easier to pull over – and cars tend to drive faster and overtake more riskily without the threat of oncoming cars. 

From the piece:

In 2011, Louisville converted two one-way streets near downtown… [Researchers] found that traffic collisions dropped steeply — by 36 percent on one street and 60 percent on the other — after the conversion, even as the number of cars traveling these roads increased. 

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Crime dropped too, by about a quarter, as crime in the rest of the city was rising. Property values rose, as did business revenue and pedestrian traffic, relative to before the change and to a pair of nearby comparison streets. 

Eiffel boudoir 

So it turns out that building a capital city’s central landmark brings with it certain perks. Gustave Eiffel, on completing his eponymous tower in 1889, decided to build himself a little pied a terre near the tower’s apex, complete with a grand piano. According to this piece in The Independent,

Eiffel was inundated with exorbitant offers from the Parisian elite to rent out the apartment, even for one night, but he declined them all, preferring to keep it as a personal space for quiet reflection both in the heart of the city and yet miles from it.

Now, the flat is closed off, but still contains its furnishings and, rather creepily, a mannequin of Eiffel himself. 

What could have been

King’s Cross Airport, designed by Charles Glover.

The Guardian has rounded up big London development projects that never came to fruition. Highlights include King’s Cross Airport (which would have been terribly convenient for some of our staff), and a plan to turn Tottenham Court road into a “flying pedestrian precinct” (no, really). You can see them all here.

Vice city 

Click for a larger image. Image: Kowloon large illustrated.

And finally, CityLab has some amazing maps of the Kowloon walled city in Hong Kong. Demolished in 1993, the haphazardly constructed district was a hotbed of crime, and was so dense that the maps, created by Japanese researchers and anthropologists, are vertical, showing the strip clubs, homes and factories occupying a single row of buildings. At one time, Kowloon’s 33,000 residents made it the most densely populated area in the world. 
This article is from the CityMetric archive: some formatting and images may not be present.