CityLab Daily: New York City’s Eroding Beach Town

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What We’re Following

Sands of time: Every summer, visitors flock to New York City’s Rockaways, a slender peninsula of sand just south of JFK Airport in Queens. Since Superstorm Sandy tore up the area’s boardwalk and damaged several homes, reconstruction funds have brought wider attention to this long-neglected community; parts of the Rockaways are now seeing rising housing prices and gentrification. But that hasn’t stopped the waves from stealing the beach: Last year, the NYC Parks Department made the abrupt decision to shutter a popular section of beachfront due to sand erosion. There was no longer enough room for people to safely stroll or swim.

Locals have long complained about the disappearing sand, but officials often seemed apathetic to the problem. That’s a familiar feeling for this community, which has been isolated from the rest of the city since it began its modern existence. Several hurricanes have whipped through the Rockaways over the years, but you might say that Robert Moses was the first superstorm: NYC’s famous master planner demolished many homes and businesses during his urban renewal campaigns of the 1950s. Today, the oceanfront neighborhood is facing down both climate change and neighborhood change. CityLab’s Laura Bliss has the story for CityLab’s Beach Week: Rockaway Beach is Disappearing and Resurgent All at Once

Andrew Small


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Toni Morrison’s Hometown Is Telling Us Something

The late novelist was born in Lorain, in a small-town Ohio she called “neither plantation nor ghetto.” But much has changed.

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Seagull Approach

(Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Speaking of beaches, the New York Times has a great story about a strange but effective solution to the problem of aggressive seagulls dive-bombing the boardwalk in Ocean City, New Jersey: hiring an “army of winged bouncers.” The city is deploying seven trained birds of prey—four hawks, two falcons, and an owl—to scare off marauding gulls that have learned to steal food from beach tourists.

Some environmental groups praise the city’s humane approach to the avian menace. “The best way to put nature back into balance is to bring back predators,” the director of the New Jersey Sierra Club tells the Times. “Whether it’s hawks or falcons in urban areas to reduce pigeon populations, or sea gulls along the coast, it makes a lot more sense.”

From CityLab’s Beach Week: All I Really Needed to Know About Cities I Learned From ‘Jaws’


What We’re Reading

A federal bill would help cities tear down highways (Streetsblog)

YIMBYs are suing small cities (Next City)

Pete Buttigieg’s plan to use immigration to revitalize shrinking communities, explained (Vox)

WeWork shows massive $900 million loss ahead of IPO (Curbed)

West Virginia’s governor has a luxury resort in an “opportunity zone” that’s filled with conflicts of interest (ProPublica)


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