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):
You’re going to need to learn the names of some new islands.
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.
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.
One of the biggest surprises: there are cities that are more walkable than New York.
We’re talking more than skyscrapers, but rather a complete ecosystem in the sky that you never have to leave.
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?
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.
The cities that are doing the best at embracing the future are focusing on improving technology, equality, sharing, civic participation, and more.
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.
Los Angeles, Phoenix, Las Vegas, and many other western cities are all growing fast—and are all running out of water.
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.
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.
Welcome to i-Town. An artist imagines Google, Facebook, Apple, and Electronic Arts as self-contained urban hubs.
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.