Category Archives: Cities

'Haifa is essentially segregated': cracks appear in Israel's capital of coexistence

For decades, Haifa has been Israel’s model of what a ‘mixed’ Jewish-Arab city could be. But as the country’s 70th anniversary nears, the strain is showing

Ben-Gurion Boulevard climbs from the bustling port on Haifa’s Mediterranean shore up Mount Carmel towards the famous Bahai shrine, its gleaming golden dome surrounded by lush terraced gardens. On the south side of the palm-lined road, on a spring lunchtime, the Fattoush restaurant is packed with customers chatting noisily in Arabic and Hebrew over Levantine and fusion salads, cardamom-flavoured coffee and exquisite Palestinian knafeh desserts.

Fashionable eateries like Fattoush are one reason why Israel’s third largest city and its biggest “mixed” one, as officially classified, is held up as a model of Jewish-Arab coexistence. Not everyone agrees with the concept, of course, and the “c” word is often qualified, placed in inverted commas, or simply dismissed as propaganda. Official figures say Arabs make up 14% of Haifa’s 280,000-strong population; unofficial estimates are closer to 18%, swelled by students and commuters from nearby Galilee. Public spaces, at least, are open to all. And the ever-present Israeli-Palestinian conflict is, usually, softer-edged than elsewhere in the country.

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Source: gad

Rising from the rubble: 'If we don't rebuild Mosul, maybe Isis will come back’

Months after Isis was forced out and tired of waiting for government action, volunteers have begun the urgent job of rebuilding Iraq’s cities

“Even if we work every day for the next six months, we still won’t finish this job – we don’t have enough support or equipment,” says Muhammed Shaban, an officer of the Civil Defence Force in west Mosul, in the exhausted tone of someone who is unable to separate his life from his work.

Shaban and his colleagues were recovering as many as 30 bodies a day in August last year, one month after the fighting ceased. More bodies still lie under the rubble along the banks of the Tigris river, where the last bloody battles were fought. “We are working with our hands and it is so hard,” says Shaban. He is still waiting to be paid.

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Source: gad

Braunau in the spotlight: Hitler's birthplace embraces inclusion

The house at 15 Salzburger Vorstadt still attracts tourists, but the town where Hitler was born has reinvented itself as a place that welcomes outsiders

“I was travelling with Germans recently, and when they heard where I’m from, they said: ‘Nothing good ever came from Braunau!’” recounts Monika Raschhofer at local paper Braunauer Warte am Inn to illustrate the pall Adolf Hitler casts over this small town on the border with Germany.

Coming from Braunau means being asked, and asked, about Hitler and the house at 15 Salzburger Vorstadt, where he was born on 20 April 1889. It is 80 years this month since Hitler made the most historically important of his rare visits to Braunau, passing through as he annexed Austria in 1938. He didn’t stop: his family had moved away when he was three and, with the Anschluss to take care of, he headed straight to nearby Linz, the city he considered home.

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Source: gad

'Urban dirt bikes saved my life' – a photo essay

Hunted by police but idolised by followers, some street riders have risen from their inner-city neighbourhoods to find fame and big money sponsorship. Could urban dirt biking do a Nascar?

All photographs by M Holden Warren

“This is to dirt bike culture what the Grammys are to hip hop,” beamed veteran rider Albert “Al Capone” Elkerson as he took to the stage of a swanky historic theatre in Manhattan for the second annual Motocross Freestyle Streetriders awards.

It was a family-friendly event, packed with young fans ogling their role models. Smartphones broadcast to millions of followers while Oscars-style trophy girls handed out accolades for best swag, best swerve and longest no-hander.

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Source: gad

How an endangered salamander forced a Texan city to save water

When it comes to water, San Antonio may be the world’s most forward-thinking city. But it learned to conserve a precious resource the hard way – and from an unlikely teacher

This weekend in San Antonio, a new park is opening in one of the poorer neighbourhoods just south of downtown, at a spot where two spring-fed rivers meet. The $13m, three-acre Confluence Park has huge concrete flower petals that will gather rainwater for reuse, and will house educational facilities about sustainable water consumption.

“This park is the place that you will want to visit when it rains,” says Matthew Driffill, recreation superintendent for the San Antonio River Authority.

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Source: gad

'Living laboratories': the Dutch cities amassing data on oblivious residents

In Eindhoven and Utrecht smart tech is tackling traffic, noise and crime. But with privacy laws proving futile and commercial companies in on the act, are the plans as benign as they seem?

Stratumseind in Eindhoven is one of the busiest nightlife streets in the Netherlands. On a Saturday night, bars are packed, music blares through the street, laughter and drunken shouting bounces off the walls. As the night progresses, the ground becomes littered with empty shot bottles, energy drink cans, cigarette butts and broken glass.

It’s no surprise that the place is also known for its frequent fights. To change that image, Stratumseind has become one of the “smartest” streets in the Netherlands. Lamp-posts have been fitted with wifi-trackers, cameras and 64 microphones that can detect aggressive behaviour and alert police officers to altercations. There has been a failed experiment to change light intensity to alter the mood. The next plan, starting this spring, is to diffuse the smell of oranges to calm people down. The aim? To make Stratumseind a safer place.

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Source: gad

Rome to ban diesel cars from city centre by 2024

Mayor announces ‘strong measures’ to tackle pollution in Italy’s traffic-clogged capital

Rome, one of Europe’s most traffic-clogged cities and home to thousands of ancient outdoor monuments threatened by pollution, plans to ban diesel cars from the centre by 2024, its mayor has said.

Virginia Raggi announced the decision on her Facebook page on Tuesday, saying: “If we want to intervene seriously, we have to have the courage to adopt strong measures”.

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Source: gad

What would the ultimate child-friendly city look like?

The reality for many urban children is too much time spent indoors playing on smartphones – but a few cities are fighting the tide with innovative ways to keep kids healthy, sociable – and outdoors

Imagine you are 10 years old. You live in a medium-sized city and want to visit your best friend, a five-minute walk away, so you can go to the park, another 10 minutes’ walk. The problem is, there’s a big, dangerous road between you and your friend, and another between them and the park. You ask your parents if you can walk, they say no, and they are too busy to take you there themselves.

Perhaps you SnapChat your friend instead, perhaps you play a video game on the sofa. You’ve lost out on exercise and time outside, interacting with your neighbourhood and, of course, play time with your friend.

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Source: gad