The Top 14 Walkable, Livable City Stories Of 2014

Mindblowing skyscrapers of the future on one hand. Cities slowly dying from lack of water on the other.


As the world’s cities grow in size, there are countless opportunities to reshape them for the better. A series of the top city stories from 2014 examine the urban hacks–both practical and whimsical–that could reshape our cities. Among them: a series of Chicago streets that have no sidewalks or lights (and barely any signs), a plan for micro-homes that take advantage of unused parking lots, a vertical urban ecosystem in the sky, and an actual list of urban hacks made of New York City’s trash.


2014 was also a year of taking stock, with a series of lists ranking cities on everything from balance of work and play to walkability. We also posted an annual list of the world’s smartest cities. This year’s winners include Barcelona, Copenhagen, and Helsinki.

Finally, a number of stories in 2014 examined the ways in which formerly unsustainable cities are remaking themselves. Phoenix, Arizona, a poster child for sprawl, is becoming walkable, while other desert cities like Las Vegas and Los Angeles are trying to figure out how they can continue growing without running out of water.

Check out the full list of stories below (and if you’re feeling nostalgic, check out last year’s list):

1: This Is What Your City Would Look Like If All The World’s Ice Sheets Melt

You’re going to need to learn the names of some new islands.


2: The 10 Most Livable Global Cities For Balancing Work And Play

Some cities, like New York and Tokyo, offer economic and cultural clout. Others, like Vancouver and Melbourne, offer “comfort.” A new ranking attempts to balance both.

3: On A New Shared Street In Chicago, There Are No Sidewalks, No Lights, And Almost No Signs

Chicago is about to take a gamble on a four-block stretch of town where drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians are all equal. It’s not as crazy as it sounds.

4: The Most And Least Walkable Cities In The U.S.


One of the biggest surprises: there are cities that are more walkable than New York.

5: A Vision Of The Vertical Cities Of The Future

We’re talking more than skyscrapers, but rather a complete ecosystem in the sky that you never have to leave.

6: What Happens When World Cup Tourists Flood Rio’s Favelas Looking For Cheap Rooms?

Is an influx of tourists sleeping in the neighborhood ultimately a boon to Rio’s favelas, or a step on the way to gentrifying so that the locals are forced to leave?


7: These Parking-Spot-Sized Micro Homes Will Turn Parking Garages Into Mini-Cities

Fully equipped with a kitchen, bathroom, and a flexible living space, the SCADPad could be the way to creatively reuse the parking lot–one of a city’s most wasteful uses of space.

8: The Smartest Cities In The World

The cities that are doing the best at embracing the future are focusing on improving technology, equality, sharing, civic participation, and more.

9: Phoenix Is Pulling Off An Urban Miracle: Transforming Into A Walkable City


The city that had long been the poster child of sprawl is putting its gears in reverse. With a new light rail line and a plan to make the city’s core denser and more desirable, it’s on the path to success.

10: Can America’s Desert Cities Adapt Before They Dry Out And Die?

Los Angeles, Phoenix, Las Vegas, and many other western cities are all growing fast—and are all running out of water.

11: The Next Giant Chinese City Will Float In The Ocean

China is running out of room for its growing urban population. This amazing design–an entire prefab city that floats on water–could magically create more space.


12: 23 Clever Urban Hacks Made From Trash On New York City Streets

Fire hydrants, parking signs, street lights, and other pieces of urban infrastructure can also make city life a little better and more whimsical, with just a few simple twists.

13: What Silicon Valley Would Look Like if Tech Companies Built Themselves Cities

Welcome to i-Town. An artist imagines Google, Facebook, Apple, and Electronic Arts as self-contained urban hubs.

14: The 10 Most Resilient Cities In The World


Canada, with the top three cities on the list, is apparently a pretty resilient place to live.

Read more of our best stories of the year, in these categories: Most-read, photos, infographics, lists, videos, maps, buildings, robots, transportation, bikes, food, collaborative consumption, cities, energy, environment, health, education, crowdfunding, innovative workplaces, and privacy.

About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more