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Raising of Chicago (wikipedia.org)
216 points by virmundi 5 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 134 comments

On a related note for anyone who has walked around both Manhattan and downtown Chicago...

Ever notice how downtown Chicago has much less noise of honking cars than downtown New York City? A friend pointed out it's because of Chicago's lower-level streets[0] that a lot of service vehicles use for loading/unloading. That's in contrast to Manhattan where everybody has to share the same street level. E.g. a brown UPS truck that stops for a mere 20 seconds is enough for the yellow cab driver that's stuck behind him to smash on the horn with impatience.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multilevel_streets_in_Chicago

I just returned from my first trip to Chicago, and noticed some related things when comparing to other large cities I'm familiar with.

Related to honking and street noise, another factor I noticed is a high number of curbs where parking is simply not allowed. This streamlines traffic in some ways, as people aren't fighting over spaces or waiting for someone to back in slowly. Although, there was a lot of "hazard parking" where people just stopped where they weren't supposed to. A lot of the honking I witnessed was due to freight/waste vehicles blocking an entire street (2-4 lanes) so they could back into a dock or service area in the middle of a block.

Downtown at night seemed eerily quiet, although there were a good number of people. I think several factors applied here, when compared with SF... Chicago has been built to handle the vast crowds from events and conventions that swarm the city. When that isn't happening, there is comparatively more room for people, so it's wide sidewalks aren't as crowded. Also, being built to withstand harsh winters, I imagine there is better thermal insulation that also acts as decent audio insulation (plus a lot is happening under the street level!). I was right outside blues and jazz clubs where you couldn't actually hear that anything was going on inside (this makes me laugh when compared to visiting Nashville for the first time earlier in the year).

It also seemed that the contention between drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians is more severe even than SF, where I saw several interactions that seemed more like a macho game of "chicken".

It's quiet after 7pm because most people don't live in the loop. After 6pm the neighborhoods become a lot busier. Also, a lot of the people in the loop during the workday come from the suburbs.


Also, many new visitors mistake the Loop for downtown, but the Loop is really just one part of downtown. Downtown encompasses River North, West Loop and a bunch of adjacent neighborhoods where it's fairly lively. Parts of the Loop can be pretty lively at night too, especially off State St where the theaters are (I just saw Hello Dolly last night).

I mention this because there are many midwestern cities (like St Louis) whose downtowns are completely deserted after 5 which gives rise to safety concerns. Chicago's downtown isn't like that at all. It's still comparatively residential. It's somewhat similar to downtown Toronto in that the core business district clears out after 7 and the surrounding areas become more lively.

St Louis' downtown feels deserted before 5 too, as large chunks of downtown are designed to have nothing to do for pedestrians. Look at your favorite satellite images around Market and 10th: You see nice parks surrounded by buildings that are not designed to have stores. The area is full of government buildings, office buildings and parking lots that will get no use after 5, and few people even walk the streets at lunch time: The west loop of Chicago at 9pm is busier than This area at noon. Busch stadium is nearby, but look at the activity nearby: There's Ballpark village and a couple of other bars to the west, but most of those nearby buildings are still empty, and the area is all a sea of surface parking lots.

Architecture and urbanism generate pedestrian activity, and many midwestern towns are not designed for it, but for people to come from the suburbs and park near their office. You can use zoning to build lively neighborhoods, soulless collections of office buildings, or anything else in between. The many municipalities around St Louis, and their planning, also engineer world-leading levels of segregation, both by race and social class. It's no wonder St Louisians ask each other where they went to high school. The way the metro area is designed, it'd be a miracle if it didn't provide a lot of information.

That's where a lot of people get it wrong about St. Louis population numbers. Most people don't live in the city there. But, due to geopolitical activities in the late 1800s, the city was separated from the county where most people live. Therefore, population numbers for the city show 300K or less but ignore where most people live--that is, the surrounding county which, if you give the metropolitan area number, is something over 3 million people! The size of Denver metro area.

I'm a big fan of clearways. Do you have those in the states? Not only is it no parking and no stopping, but if you do between certain times, they'll tow you away without warning, park you in a random side street (phone to find out where...) and slap you with a fine.

All the traffic is in River North, the area straight north bordering downtown. River North is where most of the nightlife is.

Eerily quiet at night? What neighborhood did you stay in?

Hotels often put earplugs on the nightstand since it’s so loud in some parts.

He probably means the loop. Which in many parts is totally abandoned at night.

This was supposed to be a key aspect of the original idea for EPCOT, too: streets would be tri-level, cars on the lowest level, delivery trucks on the next level, and above-ground restricted to pedestrians. You can see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EPCOT_(concept) for more information.

Chicago also has alleys all over, so there's not garbage piled up on the sidewalks and garbage trucks are less of a nuissance for traffic.

This is a serious flaw with New York City.

Fortunately, Chicago burned to the ground, which gave them an opportunity to replan.

They adopted the Daniel Burnam plan, which reclaimed the lakefront from industrial shipping and attempted to put a park within one mile of every home.

The city is much better off for it, which just goes to show you that even destruction presents the opportunity of rebirth.

It's 10:57pm and NYC is just honking away...

Go to Europe and enjoy your stroll through the public streets of cities that were designed for walking. A pleasure :)

I wouldn’t want to even say “designed” as much as grown organically around us over a few hundred years.

European cities are very much design through urban planning and zoning laws.

They kept evolving during centuries. In French cities for example they destroyed the small alleys to make big roads for cars, and in more recent years we're back to giving priority to pedestrian, bikes and public transportation.

> grown organically around us over a few hundred years

But in the case of Chicago, nobody really lived there until recently. I'd bet that in the last thousand years or more, there were never more than 500 people living in the general area until 1820 or so. The first Europeans in the area were the French, who saw it as an amazingly good logistics hub for shipping between New Orleans and their settlements in what is now Quebec. But they had no real interest in living in Chicago any more than Native Americans - up until the "Raising of Chicago", it was a pretty terrible place to live!

If you are in Chicago and come across a road that is not on a grid with intersections at 90 degree angles, there is a fairly good chance that it is centuries-old Native American path. For example, Milwaukee Ave was a path that led to (what is now) Milwaukee, Michigan City Road was a path that led to (what is now) Michigan City (where it met up with the path that went from (what is now) Detroit to (what is now) Rock Island Illinois on the Mississippi River).

Lincoln Ave was an indian trail that went from Chicago to Waukegan. The Green Bay Trail (Clark Street to Ridge Ave to Green Bay Road to Green Bay, Wisconsin) has seen use since the days of woolly mammoths 12,000 years ago.

Very cool.

Nothing organic about rebuilding the cities after WWII. Very much designed.

The cities rebuilt after WW2 are actually the worst for walkability and overall pleasantness, though in part of course they incorporate elements of the original city and in some cases they've even been rebuilt exactly as they were. Luckily they're a small minority of all European cities, although many jewels are lost forever.

Partly. It depends on how far you go back. The areas within former city walls (where people used to live) have pretty organically developed to being inner city business centers for most larger cities. Rebuilders honored this, but the initial development was probably not conceptionalized as a whole by a human beforehand.

This relates to the fact (and I think this is what the parent poster is referring to) that these cities started way before any cars or bikes existed, so cities had to work for pedestrians.

> The areas within former city walls (where people used to live) have pretty organically developed to being inner city business centers for most larger cities.

Hmmm. I disagree. In (continental) Europe the historical city centres are still the place where people live. Business areas have generally been built outside the historical part, except for the case where inner cities where destroyed in WW2. Maybe that's what you meant?

? Take Paris: businesses on the main floor, apartments above. Zoning in the States frequently won't allow this.

He meant CBD. In paris this is la defense. Which is not a very nice place to live.

Paris doesn't really have a CBD (but many smaller ones) but if it had it would be around Saint-Lazare/Opera rather than la Défense in my opinion.

not to be a stickler but I think that the word would be designed. Otherwise you can apply that statement to anything, it's like saying smartphones weren't designed so much as grown organically. Just because requirements, and technology progress doesn't make it any less design for that time.

A human thinks about the smartphone as a whole, drafts it up and builds it [slightly simplifiedly].

Old cities started as settlements, which more and more people moved to. Those people considered things like walking distance. Maybe they "designed" the places to put their homes, but the thing as a whole was in many cases not planned-through.

And even with the cities that were, pedestrian comfort was the main (or one of the main) concern(s).

New streets and building are still designed for this purpose. Compare that to large american streets that take forever to cross.

> Go to Europe and enjoy your stroll through the public streets of cities that were designed for walking.

Go to Venice and get hopelessly lost. In a hailstorm.

I kid, but, one, that did happen to me, and, two, the Classic European City is pleasant to walk but unpleasant to navigate unless you're head-down over a GPS-enabled phone with turn-by-turn navigation, in contrast to, say, Chicago or Manhattan, where the streets are a grid and you can plot a course almost instantly upon hearing an address.

If you expect everything everywhere to be a grid, sure, your mental model is not reality-compatible.

Thing is, that's also true of most "grid" cities, too - San Francisco offers you two grids, and then ignores both of them in hilly regions. Most cities I can think of in other places also are inconsistent.

There's a great story of some Parisian aristocrats that attempted to flee Paris, but became hopelessly lost! Turns out a map of the city hadn't yet been created.

Gee, I wonder how we europeans managed to live in cities for hundreds of years without GPS devices.

By living in the same city for your entire lifetime and learning the quirks of the local layout by heart. Accessibility to newcomers was not optimized for.

I don't know, I visited almost every major european city back when portable GPS devices were not a thing, and I never had a problem navigating. Even now, I almost never use the GPS.

In fact the only time I ever got lost in a foreign city was a few months back in New York because instead of going with my gut I trusted the GPS.

I got lost plenty of times in Europe pre-GPS. I typically had a physical map, but this wasn't always sufficient. You'd simply have to fall back in things like payphone calls and asking strangers for help.

Is asking people for directions in an unknown environment really that terrible?

> Is asking people for directions in an unknown environment really that terrible?

If there's a language barrier that becomes more challenging.

Also in places like Venice and Barcelona that are overrun by tourists, asking for directions disrupts the lives of locals. Imagine being asked for directions a dozen or more times a day. Thank goodness for Google Maps and data plans.

Lol. I guess you should stay in your comfortable country

Older parts of European cities can be a bit harder to navigate. I’m thinking the El Gotic neighborhood in Barcelona and Alfama in Lisbon. But one does get used to it after a day or so.

Oh. It must be so hard to be tourist in Europe right? Well... No.

Those old cities make up for it in other ways ^_^

You can have a walkable European city on a grid, e.g. Barcelona, Turin.

Everything looking the same is not that great. Though I do appreciate the clarity of possible moves.

It’s efficient which is great. The opposite is whimsy, which is bad.

Efficient and whimsical are not the only adjectives that apply.

Efficiency is good, but whimsy is splendiforous.

Is this a joke to point out how "hard" it is to find one's way if streets are not perfect grids? I like it.

There's also a different solution that e.g. Russia employs: honking is completely prohibited except for avoiding a collision. Of course, people still honk occasionally when annoyed, and, notably, to call someone outside the traffic; and the rule isn't enforced much—but its mere existence raises the threshold considerably. You have to really be in the way to earn a honk, twenty seconds is an unthinkably low cutoff here indicating anger problems on the honking driver's part.

Same in the UK. The sounding of a horn when a vehicle is stationary is prohibited, unless there is danger from a moving vehicle. It's generally respected, you rarely hear a car horn.

You haven't been to central Manchester recently.

Lots of people bring large cars into the city centre, then all expect to be able to move them around at top speed. When they don't get their way, they use the car's whinge button.

Honking is also illegal in NYC if I recall correctly..


There are amusing signs all over midtown declaring a $350 honking fine. There’s NYPD Traffic often directing when people should enter box junctions (apparently people are incapable without auch instruction). And yet all the cars are honking, all day long.

Well, then I guess that unlike New Yorkers, Russians actually listen to the law.

Russians obeying traffic laws? I am surprised.

Wait until you see traffic in Egypt.

That sounds terrible. If someone screws up on the road they should be told, loudly.

If you honk: do you know how many people you are annoying with that? I would guess you can probably hear a honking car in a radius of at least 300 m outdoors and 100m indoors. So in any well populated area there are probably there are probably more than 500 people who hear a car honking. Do you really thing that's worth it, just to tell a single person they did something wrong?

I'm guessing that was intended to be a joke, but I'm not 100% sure.

I can't compare NYC vs Chicago. But Chicago has plenty of honking. To the extent that I think Chicago should fine people for it. If you lay on the horn for more than ten seconds you should get a 1000 dollar fine and lose your license. That is how excessive and obnoxious it is.

Typically taxi drivers are the worst with that behavior. I can understand giving a tap when someone isn't paying attention to a green light. But laying on the horn when no one is moving because traffic is backed up for three stop lights, fuck those people.

Chicago taxi drivers are some of the most obnoxious drivers on the road. However, I can sort of understand why. (not to excuse them or anything)

The Chicago downtown driving experience, while not terrible like NYC, can be annoying because there are so many bad drivers about (Illinois licensing is very lax). There are drivers parked on bike lanes, drivers suddenly stopping and double parking, drivers not signalling or leaving their turn signals on without any intention of changing lanes. Couple that with out-of-town drivers from Wisconsin and Indiana who are unfamiliar with traffic patterns, anyone who spends a lot of time driving downtown is liable to build up a lot of resentment.

As someone that grew up in Wisconsin and drove mostly in that state, my take away about driving on Chicago is: go out of your way to be an asshole, turn signals are not allowed, use your horn unnecessarily and excessively.

A few months ago I was on the highway and saw a Porsche cayenne driving safe and actually using turn signals. Honestly that is like spotting a unicorn.

>Illinois licensing is very lax

In my first (and only) driving test in Chicago, the very first thing I did was roll the stop sign at the exit for the testing facility. Got a mild reprimand from the examiner, but passed the test.

It was shockingly easy to get drivers license in Il. Granted I didn't need to take a road test, the written test was so simplistic a 12 year old could probably pass it.

If I had to do a road test I would have failed hard because of the number of fbombs I dropped at other drivers. Or I might have passed because of it. Hard to tell.

The behavior of drivers have gotten worse because the cops aren't out there. (They reprioritized after the introduction of red light and speed cameras).

Also, don't get me started on the bikers they're, for the most part, are a menace to walkers and drivers.

It really depends in regards to bikers. I see a lot of them safely run red lights. Which they shouldn't do of course. But I also see great restraint when some tourist is in the bright green and clearly bike lane. A bike ride swerved and nicely said "You almost got hit"

Bikers are allowed to go through red lights if they don't turn green in 120 secs [1]. It's a silly rule, but there it is.

Problem is most bikers don't wait 120 secs. So these things happen. [2]

[1] https://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/publications/pdf_publicat...

[2] https://www.reddit.com/r/chicago/comments/6oh7qw/that_accide...

I didn't know about that. I don't blame them for just running them on occasion. I jwalk, but that is a bit less dangerous than flying through a red light because you think no one is coming. Most bikers don't stop let alone wait for 10 seconds.

From what I've noticed:

1. Jaywalking is rare % wise. Most of the time I see people who jaywalk, do so very carefully. The worst of pedestrians that I see are the ones who ignore pedestrian lights without reguard for traffic or the ones who stand in bike lines.

2. Most cyclists either weakly obey rules, or flat out disregard them. (weakly, as in they'll wait in the crosswalk or fail to yield to pedestrians) The majority of the time that I see a biker on the sidewalk (above 18, by law it's 12+ you're not allowed to bike on the sidewalk) I'll point out where the road is to them and the response is "fuck you".

In my experience jwalking definitely is done in 99 percent tile with complete situational awareness. most cyclists really do obey laws or ignore them when safe. Which is understandable, I've run red lights when no one is around.

But what does piss me off is nearly getting clipped by a biker on the sidewalk. I've never seen a person under 25 riding on the sidewalk. And for some reason it seems to be a guy with a beard and fixed gear bike.

Are we talking about Chicago?

I frequently see people from about 20-40s riding on the sidewalk. It's rare to see an under 12 or a senior citizen riding on the sidewalk. Although I did get told "fuck you" by a middle age guy when I pointed to where the road was. (He and his wife were riding on the sidewalk).

From my experience, it's rare to see a cyclist obey traffic laws. I'm just shocked to see them even use hand signals. (The better explanation for that is that I'm hallucinating it's that rare)

It used to be more so when the subterranean tunnels were in operation.

I think, however, that outside of Lower Wacker, there is not much below-ground delivery taking place.

lower wacker is a life saver yall . Know it and love it!

Fun story: once, while using Apple Maps to navigate to a hotel in Chicago, it got confused and directed me on to Lower Wacker. It kept giving me directions as if I was on Upper Wacker. “Turn right here”, it said, as if there wasn’t a brick wall there.

GPS is great in two dimensions, less great in three dimensions.

As far as I can tell, all GPS devices get whacky on Lower Wacker.

Waze and SpotHero pitched in to install BTLE beacons down there and help the novice Uber drivers find their way back to street level.


I understand it currently only works with Waze. Despite Google owning Waze, I'm not sure if it has been integrated into Google Maps. Here's a story about the challenges of installing beacons in Chicago [1] vs tunnels near Logan Airport in Boston.

My Google Maps still goes a little crazy on Lower Wacker.

Also we need beacons in the loop. All those tall buildings really mess up navigation downtown.

[1] https://www.wired.com/story/chicago-waze-beacons-spothero-gp...

I don't know what Uber did to make their implementation of GPS so terrible. Google maps can definitely have issues at times in Chicago but I rarely see an Uber driver use the built-in mapping. They use Google maps.

Side note on Uber express, if it says northeast corner, it will always be the southwest corner.

Lyft doesn't even have their own maps. Drivers get to pick between Waze or Google Maps [1].

Google Maps is so much better than anything else.

[1] https://help.lyft.com/hc/en-us/articles/115012926407-How-to-...

It doesn't work with Google Maps. Source: I was using Google maps to get to/from Northwestern Hospital on Lower Wagner today, and the GPS dropped the entire time I was down there.

Trick: as you enter Lower Wacker, take note of the proposed exit.

And then head in there. Ignore your GPS. Make a turn when you see your exit.

When you're above ground again, resume GPS.

Yeah, did that. Problem wasn't the initial exit, it was the rapid series of turns after exiting lower Michigan from lower Wacker that was the Problem. Took a few loops around the block before the GPS reacquired. I used to spend a bit of time in the area, but it was always on foot. First time really driving in that area (coming in from West suburbs, normally, I'd take Metra and walk/cab it), and first time to NW hospital (wife needed to see a specialist)

Yeah that can be a pain. The GPS will tend to swing around for a couple seconds before getting a lock again.

uck. Just noticed the spelling error. Wagner -> Wacker. Was on mobile at the time of the original post, and must have autocorrected.

That's literally true. The GPS system sacrifices precision in Altitude for precision in Latitude/Longitude.

How? I was just under the impression that figuring out a correct elevation via gps is a hard problem. Airplanes use barometric pressure for altitude.

It isn't hard, it's just that with a bit of road in between you and the sky the signal is lost. Airplane use barometric pressure for altitude is in part backwards compatibility. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flight_level

Yes but only certain areas of downtown, mostly in the NE (where there are TWO underground levels) and along Wacker to Congress.

How many cities have been raised like this?

I was shocked when I found out Seattle's streets were raised, but not the buildings, which led to the Seattle Underground [1]. If you tour it, you can see the original first floor of buildings while you're under the roads.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seattle_Underground

Galveston is another well known instance of this. After much of the city was destroyed by a hurricane storm surge in 1900, it was raised quite significantly. There's a good read about it here:


Chattanooga was too. I have a feeling this was pretty common in response to river flooding and implementing sewage lines.


Although in Chattanooga, I don't think any buildings there were raised. I think they just covered up their first floors. If you work in a building with an underground connector to another build, you'll still see old bricked up door frames to where the streets use to be and halves of windows on the floor.

Paris is built upon former Parises. Every once in awhile a giant sinkhole opens up unexpectantly to reveal a previos version.

I can't remember if this aided in the construction of the Métro or Paris's mail system (ruuuubes! A series of them!) but it might have.

There’s an underground shopping district in Atlanta but it’s history is a bit different.


Add portions of Hot Springs Arkansas to the list.

General raising of streets is not that rare. Churches that are lower than the surroundings are good indicators in Europe.

Sacramento, after 1861-2 floods.

You can learn more about the history of the Chicago River at this small museum right along the river:


Chicago has really done an impressive job making the Riverwalk accessible. You can also take one of the many river cruises that go back and forth if you're interested.

The riverwalk is great; they're expanding it more and more every year. I believe the intent is to extend it along the south branch of the river (currently it covers just the east branch to the lake) all the way to Ping Tom park (Chinatown).

This happened later than the dates in Wikipedia for some of the outer neighborhoods of the time. A visible legacy today in those neighborhoods is vaulted sidewalks and entries, making houses appear shorter than they actually are.

plug for an article I wrote a few years ago about some houses with vaulted entryways: http://chicagopatterns.com/colorful-front-gabled-italianate-...

Thanks for this note. I always wondered why places in Pilsen and Little Village were below the sidewalk.

This is one of my favorite fun facts about our city. The other one, which I didn't realize until recently, is that our rivers are also separated from Lake Michigan by locks, we have a lower water level within the city. Between these two things, there's a significant height for boats to pass under bridges all throughout Chicago.

Chicago accomplished quite a number of engineering feats in its time. The big one was the reversing the flow of the Chicago river [1] through a system of canals and locks.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_River#Reversing_the_fl...

Wonderful 99 percent invisible (radioshow) on the subject


Many people also don't realize how much of the current lakefront is built on fill - Grant Park is largely built atop fill from debris from the Chicago Fire that was dumped into the Lake.

Northwestern University doubled its campus size by filling in lake.

The Edgewater Beach Hotel was at water's edge, but now is quite some distance from the lake.

> the current lakefront is built on fill

If you'd like to take home a piece as a souvenir, head over to 12th Street Beach (immediately south of the Adler Planetarium). The stuff piles up on the south end of the beach every time there is a storm on the lake. Lots of pieces of bricks, terra cotta, porcelain, etc. Tons and tons of beautiful colored glass that has been tumbled smooth by the waves. Go in the morning and you'll see treasure hunters picking out the best stuff. Rumor has it there every once in a few years someone finds a diamond - it is definitely true that the Great Lakes have plenty of diamonds from northern Canada that were deposited by glaciers in the last ice age.

This is what I would expect to happen in Manhattan, for instance, as a response to sea level rise, rather than the dystopian abandonment you see in movies like A.I.

Not that you would necessarily raise skyscrapers, but that you would raise the street level, and change the street level entrance of the building. Smaller buildings could be raised though.

It's not an outrageous idea. More outrageous I think is the idea of abandonment. Maybe people think of sea level rise as happening overnight.

In some neighborhoods you can see where the street was raised but building weren't. There's a gap of a few feet between the sidewalk and the building where you can see down to the level of the original street and the former street level floor of the building now looks like a basement.

Off the top of my head you can see some buildings like this in the blocks North of Division between Ashland and the Kennedy.

Here's an example from that area: https://www.google.com/maps/@41.9042461,-87.6638461,3a,75y,2...

I'm not 100%, but I don't think that's an example of the effects of the raising of the city. For one thing, the address is quite removed from the downtown area, but beyond that you can find these kinds of buildings all over the city, so I've always figured they were just built that way. Here's an example of a clearly recently-built building which has a similar design, in Wicker Park:


I can only guess but that could have been built that way to simply stylistically fit in with other building in the area, even if it wasn't necessary. Also, building it the way they did gives more light and access to the lower level and probably required less work.

Likewise I believe that many of the buildings in that area date to around the beginning of the 20th century, if not older which would put them in the right ballpark.

It is also not that far from downtown and very well within incorporated Chicago in 1900 (I'll have to look for earlier maps later).

There's buildings all over london like this too. I'm curious why they do this.


So you can have an extra floor (basement), with natural light.

Looks like somebody listened to Ungeniused this week

Businesses operating out of these premises were not closed down for the lifting; as the buildings were being raised, people came, went, shopped and worked in them as if nothing out of the ordinary were happening.

150 years ago, there was no widespread utility services (water, electricity, gas), so buildings essentially just rested on their foundations and could be raised with far less disruption. The lax safety regulations of the time probably also contributed --- today, if such a thing were done, the building would likely be completely vacated and emptied first.

I only just watched this a few days ago, shows how it was done.


I used to wander around Chicago before I knew why the houses in some areas were below street level and just wondered, why would so many many build in a flood zone!

If you’re interested in this sort of thing, check out Steven B. Johnson’s “How We Got To Now”, which discussed this. https://www.pbs.org/show/how-we-got-now/

It’s only six episodes, and quite fascinating.

There's also a book version, which is also quite good.

Now I understand Monty Python's sketch from the Meaning of Life, where old financials pirate a multi-story building and sail it off out of town. The wikipedia article mentions that in the chapter "relocated buildings". Before I never really got the joke of that sketch.

Interestingly, in CT there was a large number of homes build on bad foundations, driving around my neighborhood its common to see otherwise very nice houses raised up to have there foundations completely replaced. Still an interesting site to see.

"the 1854 outbreak of cholera that killed six percent of the city’s population."

A pretty good motivation to make some changes. I wonder when the last time a US city had over 5% of its population die in a year. The 1906 SF earthquake/fire was about 1%.

3-6% of the world's population died from Spanish Flu in 1918/1919

Also from Chicago: permanently reversing the flow of the river


Have you considered automating this? Something like a "previous discussions" link?

Perhaps you haven't noticed the "past" link that's underneath each original post?

The problem with the "past" link is that it appears regardless, so it's barely better than copying the link and pasting it in the search box. The advantage of these posts is the lack of friction, they're just there.

I think dang himself clicks on 'past' and then refers those links here.

What would be great is a (sticky) comment for all past discussions sorted by year.

That’s pretty much what the “past” link gives you. I like the human touch of someone consciously deciding whether there’s value in highlighting previous posts.

I like this idea a lot. How many reposts don't end up getting a comment like this because no one remembers the original submission? It would be interesting to see a history of every time an article was submitted.

haha I know what I'm doing this weekend.

Go to Europe and enjoy your stroll through the public streets of cities that were designed for walking. A pleasure :) https://www.moneysavingwallet.com/

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