The museum has made its splash, but if it wants to be more than a work of starchitecture, it requires deeper collections and bolder curatorial vision.
In Public Streets, our urban observation series, writers reflect on spaces and places.
Editor: Abigail Struhl
Past Editor: Ellis Avery (1972–2019)
Jewish Havens: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
For centuries, the city’s Sephardim adhered to Jewish law within the community, but also had secular lives in the relatively lax Dutch state.
Elvis’s Missing Belt: Tel Aviv, Israel
“As a teenager, I also worked at HaMeshulash for several months. It’s quite possible that I was the worst waiter in the history of the café.”
A Statue Gives Romans a Voice: 2021, Rome, Italy
The people of Rome have been leaving notes on the Pasquino statue for over 500 years. And this practice continued in the pandemic, fortunately.
Apocalypse and Anticlimax: The Petrified Forest, Calistoga, CA
Unlike us today, the Victorians who discovered this stone forest were less afraid of the future than they were of forgetting the past.
What Folklore Erases: Under Columbus, Georgia
The current owner of the Lion House is happy to let rumors about his property’s basement passageway simmer.
Literary and Manual Labors: Pittsfield, Massachusetts
“I have been building some shanties of houses …,” wrote Melville to Hawthorne, “and likewise some shanties of chapters and essays.”
A Quiet Disaster: Mexico City, Mexico
Apocalyptic writers would be surprised by the suddenness with which Mexico City, during the pandemic, took on the guise of a ghost town.
The New Silk Road: Dordoi Bazaar in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
At the largest bazaar in Central Asia, an informal secondhand market has become something like a metropolis unto itself.
The Floating Park: Parc de Belleville, Paris
“It is rare, on a summer evening in Paris, to find this sort of quiet along with the sensation of having the city at your feet.”
The Enduring City: Jakarta, Indonesia
In the parts of the city left behind is a Jakarta free from the globalized sameness of so many of the world’s megacities.
One Border, Two Walls: Douglas, Arizona, and Agua Prieta, Sonora
The sun is setting behind the Tohono O’odham Nation Reservation, and ...
“There Is Always a Norther North”: Highway 1, Alaska
There’s a fire burning by Swan Lake. For the sixth time in the last 20 years ...
“Kingdom of Dolls”: Sonneberg, Germany
In her mid-19th-century children’s book, Memoirs of a Doll, Julie Gouraud warns her readers not to unstitch their dolls looking for origins and inner workings ...
Fill the Halls: Space and Possibility in Lahore, Pakistan
Lahore today can feel like a city of security checks and gated passages, tall walls and ...
Risky Choices: Women and Cabs in Hyderabad, India
The arrival of app-based ride-hailing in Indian cities has made a significant difference in the way the middle class, especially young men and women ...
The Afronaut Archives: Reports from a Future Zambia
“Most Westerners don’t even know whereabouts in Africa we are.” So said ...
Casa Mueller’s Ghost: Displaced Afro-Caribbean History in Panama City
I’m standing on a foot-wide cement island in the middle of the bustling Avenida ...
You Can Call It “The Cuban”: Miami, Florida
The fall of 2018 in Miami saw the grand opening of an institution you would’ve thought the city already had. The ...
Smiling Donors, Bored Recipients: Free Food In America
People lining up for free food are often tired, bored, and shabbily dressed ...