Jake's blog

My debut book, THE LOST SUBWAYS OF NORTH AMERICA, is now available for pre-order.

My debut book, THE LOST SUBWAYS OF NORTH AMERICA, is now available for pre-order.

The official release date of my book, The Lost Subways of North America: A Cartographic Guide to the Past, Present and What Could Have Been is November 6th, published by the University of Chicago Press.  (My publisher wants to time the release for the Christmas market.) After over a decade of work, this project is finally coming to an end. The book is up for pre-order on Amazon, but if you pre-order directly from me you'll get a signed copy from me a little after Halloween. Pre-order here.

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Let's talk about some unusual sources of inspiration for the Lost Subways book.

Let's talk about some unusual sources of inspiration for the Lost Subways book.

It's been a weird, long ride finishing this book, and now that the manuscript is mostly done, I'd like to recognize a couple of the major influences on The Lost Subways of North America.The first major influence comes from an unusual source: an obscure, out-of-print British sci-fi book from the late 1970s called Spacecraft 2000-2100 AD, written by a fellow named Stewart Cowley.  (Paper copies are expensive but not impossible to find - thankfully, the Internet Archive has a copy.)Spacecraft is a delightfully weird book.  Cowley took a bunch of quirky 1970s sci-fi art made by masters of the genre,...

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Let's talk about how to make buses better.

Let's talk about how to make buses better.

Bottom line, up front: The New York MTA's bus redesign is a good start, but its reforms are too timid. I spend a lot of time here talking about how transit in the U.S. doesn't work, and much of it is about how American transit operators get things wrong. One problem I know particularly well is just how terrible New York City buses are. They're barely faster than walking, and unreliable because they constantly get stuck in traffic. Only 69% of MTA buses ran on time. (The MTA has a whole report summarizing this stuff.) To its credit, the MTA...

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Let's talk about NYC's new commuter rail terminal, Grand Central Madison.

Let's talk about NYC's new commuter rail terminal, Grand Central Madison.

BOTTOM LINE, UP FRONT: NYC's new $12 billion commuter rail terminal is a fiasco, the product of crummy planning and a political system unwilling to oversee the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.New York City's shiny new commuter rail terminal, Grand Central Madison, is now open for business.  Grand Central Madison is the culmination of a three-decade-long project to bring the Long Island Rail Road, one of New York's three commuter rail operators, to the East Side of Manhattan.  This is a good idea, but it was executed incredibly poorly. It illustrates all the ways that you can fuck up a project.  The...

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Let's talk about how the State brought the hammer down on bad local governments, and now there's a lot of new housing in the pipeline as a result.

Let's talk about how the State brought the hammer down on bad local governments, and now there's a lot of new housing in the pipeline as a result.

tl;dr: Earlier this year, the State threatened to nuke city zoning laws if cities didn't plan to build enough housing. The cities tried to play games, the State nuked the zoning, and now there's a TON of new housing in the pipeline. So, about seven months ago, I wrote an essay explaining that every city in greater LA has to establish a rezoning plan to add their fair share of housing. Overall, greater LA needs to try to add 1.3 million more houses between 2021 and 2029. The cities of SoCal divided the quota up amongst themselves. If your plans...

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