To say that the air quality in Chinese cities is bad is an understatement, as you can see below. Statistics and image via Air Quality Index China To tackle this, the municipal government of the city of Xian (population 8.7 million), the capital of Shaanxi province, has constructed what is
One of those hip little boutique hotels opened up a few years ago on the Bowery. Here it is in Google Street View. They have a lounge downstairs that is open to the elements. These are the tables the lounge is populated with. As you can see they are custom-made.
This bicycle shackled to a signpost on Crosby Street seems to be owned by a creative cyclist. It has been brutally cold lately here in NYC, and the rider has fashioned insulated hand-shields for the handlebars. It's not uncommon to see local delivery people hack something like this up, but
When you picture New York City you probably don't envision greenery, but in fact the city has some 5.2 million trees in parks, lining streets and in people's yards in the outerboroughs. Each year, as in nature, a number of them become damaged by storms or age and must be
In our homes, the budget-minded among us will turn a light off when leaving a room. There's no point in paying for electricity when no one is around to reap its benefits. But this money-saving tactic has traditionally not been possible with highway lights, which municipalities are obligated to leave
I pass this abandoned bicycle daily. It's near one of those corners on Hester Street that has no garbage cans. This bike has long since been stripped of its useful parts. There also used to be a chair shackled to it, but someone has destroyed the chair and left only
On Lafayette Street in downtown Manhattan is a Rescue Mission. They provide services, hot meals and shelter to the homeless. Each morning there is a queue of homeless people outside the mission. Many of them appear to be mentally unwell and/or suffering from drug addictions, judging by their slurred speech
Few weeks ago I spotted this "Police Barricade Upcycle Fail." By its daily, unmoving position against a wall, I figured it had been discarded and served no purpose. One reader suggested that it might have been repurposed as a bike rack, which I'd not thought of. Turns out we were
Scaffolding is such a common sight in downtown Manhattan that it's easy to ignore. But this morning I spotted something I'd not noticed before: While the nuts on the bolts above head level are the standard metal through-nuts, which leave the bolt exposed… …all of the nuts at torso-
My neighborhood borders the neighborhoods known as Little Italy and Chinatown. Despite a few holdouts, the former community has largely departed, displaced by the latter community. A striking and somewhat heartbreaking sociological difference can be seen in the local supermarkets. Whenever I see an elderly, local Caucasian woman in
This is a fascinating concept: Imagine a post-apocalyptic future where surviving humans are clustered in cities--that are all up on enormous wheels and roam the earth in search of ever-dwindling resources. And to get by, they can snack on other, smaller cities. That's the concept of author Philip Reeve's "Predator
Someone on Kenmare Street got their hands on what look to be the seating surfaces from three restaurant chairs. They fashioned them into this urban lounge integrated with a planter on a concrete pad. The backrest of the outermost seat copies the angle of the planter. I can't tell if
Road crews are a common sight in New York, with orange-vested men working on the street or partially submerged in it. They often have machinery and tools down in the hole, with cables running back to the truck. This presents a tripping hazard. The object you see here, made by
The automotive version of an iPhone case. Because auto designers and manufacturers do not take parallel parking and paint-trading into consideration, motorists wishing to avoid scuffmarks must purchase these absurd, ugly things. It totally mars the lines of the car. What is the point of designing something beautiful, if it
There's a lot of unassuming buildings on Crosby Street in SoHo, but I know this one in particular because a certain famous rock star lived there, and a training brother of mine works in carpentry and got hired for a job there, and one of his crew members accidentally fucked
I had a transparent reusable water bottle I used to bring to my training hall, but I stopped using it because these gross black dots were forming on the inside near the bottom and they were difficult to scrub out, even with a bristle brush. The developers of the
Spotted with the curbside trash on Crosby Street: And someone couldn't help themselves and scrawled a little note on it: If you look at the first two photos, you'll see they also circled and underlined "douche."
This here is your standard NYPD barricade. They link together by having hooks on one end and loops on the other. The police use these to block areas off for parades and street festivals. Sometimes when they come to pick them all up, they leave one or two behind, so
NYC's MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority) has been making noise about the new R211 subway cars they're acquiring, which are supposed to have a bunch of design upgrades. To get public feedback, they've built two full-sized mockups and put them on display at the 34th Street / Hudson Yards station. So
Designers Lisa Siedlecki and Jennifer Silbert worked in fashion and architecture, respectively, two industries where they saw their share of wasted materials. Three years ago they'd had enough and quit, teaming up to produce something useful and ecologically responsible. "We started Rewilder to combat the fast fashion craze with meticulous
The storefront for this appointment-only, high-end jewelry store in SoHo has a shabby appearance. The black paint probably looked chic for the first week after it was applied. But now it is chipped and peeling, and we see that black is a poor choice because it readily shows dust. The
Manhattan's Chinatown is filled with shops, and many of them have outdoor displays. During the day you can't see the actual display unit, just the goods covering them. But early in the morning the displays are visible. They are functional, and only that. Visually they are horrific-looking. I call it
Above is a Google Street View image of the Basilica of St. Patrick's Old Cathedral, located in what is now hip NoLita. I pass this building often, and a point of interest for me is this massive iron door that leads into the church grounds. You might be wondering why
This simple steel wire-mesh trash basket is a staple of many an NYC neighborhood. In recent years I've noticed that various neighborhoods' B.I.D.s (Business Improvement District committees) have been lining them with trash bags, as seen here. I presume this is an effort to make emptying the can a
It's a shame that everyone from name-brand architects to homeowners to neighborhood beautification organizations often miss this important fact: Wood, if not properly maintained, is actually a very poor materials choice for outdoor products and facades. It has to have a protective coating that must regularly be re-applied. And
This building on Kenmare Street may not look special from the front. But look at the left edge of it. The building is incredibly narrow, tapering almost to a point. In Google Maps you can see it's just a thin slice of a building. The incredibly narrow footprint is fine
If you throw a sofa away in New York City, it will often linger on the curb for days. For three mornings in a row, I passed this spot on Elizabeth Street where a homeless guy had scored a discarded sofa and sofa end. The weather is getting colder now,
Spotted on SoHo's once-glitzy West Broadway, which is now clearly in decline: Someone wanted a bench, but damn sure didn't want to pay for a bench. All materials were, I assume, looted from a nearby construction site.
Looks like someone's gonna have a crappy Thanksgiving: The makeshift Baxter Street Lounge I've been writing about… The lounge, in happier days…has been shut down! Passed it this morning to see this: All gone.So much for the holiday spirit. I though the "disposed of as garbage" part was a bit
While they clearly did not hire a graphic designer to lay out the type, this sign cost the city money to design, produce, distribute and install. The entire point of these two symbols… …is that they don't require an explanation and can be understood by those who cannot read
The makeshift sidewalk lounge I wrote about earlier, sited on Baxter Street, is apparently experiencing growth in its numbers of patrons. The unseen people who populate this lounge--I've yet to catch them in the act, as I only pass this way in the morning--have amassed more furniture, including two rolling
Situated at an intersection of two streets that each have a slight grade, this restaurant has angled sidewalks on both its south and east faces. The restaurant owner had custom benches made to compensate for the grades on each side. But every morning when they open, the guy who pulls
Spotted in Chinatown, placed out on the curb as garbage. Some chef or butcher definitely got his or her money's worth out of this butcher block.
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