1. Social
January 30, 2015

Sewer gold, the world's coldest cities and an automobile love affair

By City Monitor Staff

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

  • Sewers! We love sewers. Especially when they’re filled with silver and gold, which, apparently, most sewers are. This piece from Fast Company magazine explains a new study which claims that, in a city of a million people, there could be $13m worth of precious metals collecting in the sewers every year. And, before you ask:

Though extracting the metals may be difficult, Westerhoff believes it’s possible. “There’s nothing you can buy off the shelf today to do it,” he says. “But are there strategies? Yeah, we think there are.”

  • CityAM has collected together a whole load of data on London cycle safety, to map accidents between bikes and different types of vehicle all over London. They’ve also analysed injury data to show that, after a decrease between 2000 and 2010s, injuries appear to be on the rise again. You can read the full post here.

Click for a larger image. 

  • If you’re putting up with endless snow and sleet this week, cheer yourself up with this piece from the Guardian on the coldest cities in the world. Yellowknife, Canada is one contender – the temperature regularly drops below -30 degrees Celcius, and building regulations state that walls must be at least one foot thick and stuffed with insulation. 
  • And finally, this piece from CityLab tracks the development of America’s “Love affair with the automobile”.  Historian Peter Norton has come forward to suggest that this affair did not, in fact, develop naturally, but was encouraged into being by a 1960s TV show sponsored by a company which owned 23 per cent of General Motors – and hosted by none other than Groucho Marx.

From the piece:

The phrase has become so entrenched in American life that the premise itself rests high above questioning. (Today Google autocompletes a search for “American love affair with—” to “cars,” producing 21.8 million results as of this writing; the second-most common ending, at 5.31 million pages, is “guns.”)

On the contrary, Norton’s work has documented that for most of the early 20th century there was no clear consensus over whether cars or other users had more of a right to city streets.

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As conspiracy theories go, this one’s surprisingly appealing. 

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