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The Cities This Week: Edition 19




Protests in Istanbul over plans for park redevelopment. Souce: Euronews

Protests in Istanbul over plans for park redevelopment. Souce: Euronews

ISTANBUL

At midnight on Thursday, one of the few remaining parks in the center of this city was filled with people singing, dancing, talking, giving speeches, and preparing to camp out. Before dawn this morning, it was violently cleared by armored police spraying tear gas — a cycle that’s repeated itself over the past few days as protesters seek to halt the demolition of the park and the building of a shopping mall there. Just nine acres in size, Gezi Park would be but a blip on the map in cities such as New York, with its 843-acre Central Park. But in Istanbul, where only 1.5 percent of land area is devoted to public green space — less than in crowded Tokyo or Shanghai, but far behind New York (14 percent) or London (38.4 percent) — it is a rare oasis.

JOHANNESBURG

The latest of Johannesburg’s gated communities is in the process of construction by insurance magnate Douw Steyn. The estate is being advertised as a city in itself, set to contain shopping centres, office parks, medical facilities, private schools and a golf course. Steyn City is almost five times the size of Monaco – the world’s second smallest country – and exceeds the area of Sandton in Johannesburg or the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. Eprop reports that the design of the ‘city’ is to exclude cars to the greatest possible extent. Giuseppe Plumari, the CEO of Steyn City properties, said the vision of Steyn’s city is to be “built and designed for people”.

OKLAHOMA CITY

A new series of tornadoes has swept through the US state of Oklahoma, killing at least five people, including a mother and child, officials say. The tornadoes struck near the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore, where 24 people were killed by a violent tornado nearly two weeks ago. The latest storm struck during Friday’s evening rush hour, trapping many people in cars and causing traffic chaos. More than 60,000 homes lost power and heavy rain has caused severe flooding. Many streets were inundated with up to 4ft (1.2 m) of water. Storms also swept through Missouri, where Governor Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency.

KIGAMBONI SATELLITE CITY

The Minister for Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development, Professor Anna Tibaijuka, on Monday strongly defended in the National Assembly, the proposed multitrillion shillings Kigamboni Satellite City project in Temeke District, Dar es Salaam Region. The project for the proposed ‘dream city’ is expected to transform Kigamboni area into an ultra-modern urban centre with facilities competing with those in places like Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The minister rightly reassured hundreds of thousands of Kigamboni residents that the project is not going to displace or turn them into other places in Dar es Salaam or elsewhere in the country as destitute.

NEW YORK CITY

By midafternoon, the passing flickers of blue were already ubiquitous — negotiating light taxi traffic in the West Village, hurtling through the protected lanes of Midtown, drifting toward the Brooklyn waterfront. For the first time, under cooperatively clear skies, New Yorkers sat astride the city’s first new wide-scale public transportation in more than 75 years: a fleet of 6,000 bicycles, part of a system known as Citi Bike, scattered across more than 300 stations in Manhattan below 59th Street and parts of Brooklyn.

FRANKFURT

 Anti-capitalist demonstrators from the Blockupy movement paralysed Germany’s financial center on Friday, cutting off access to the European Central Bank and Deutsche Bank’s headquarters. Protesters against Europe’s austerity policies, estimated by police at 1,500 but by Blockupy at 3,000, descended in the early hours on Frankfurt’s financial district to disrupt business at institutions they blame for a deep recession in euro zone countries such as Spain and Greece. Riot police, showered with stones and paint bombs, used pepper spray to prevent the protesters breaking into the ECB. Several protesters were injured and police made some arrests, though they gave no numbers.

RUSSIAN CITIES

A smoking ban in some public places has come into force today in Russia, a country with one of the highest smoking rates in the world. Around 40 per cent of the population are smokers, but as of today they will be unable to light up in workplaces, housing block stairwells, train stations and airports, and on public transport. The controversial anti-smoking legislation is part of President Vladimir Putin’s plan to force Russians to make a healthy lifestyle change.

CAPE TOWN

Passengers travelling on MyCiTi routes, on Sunday 2 June 2013, will receive free trips to celebrate the second anniversary of the service.  “The free rides are a way of thanking all of our passengers for taking the bus,” says Mayoral Committee Member for Transport, Roads and Stormwater Councillor Brett Herron. “Each one of you has played an important role in making the service a success.” You can take as many MyCiTi trips as you like on Sunday without paying a cent for your travel, and you will not need to use a myconnect card. “We also want to encourage new passengers from across Cape Town to try out MyCiTi, to get a taste of what is to come as the service expands. Bring your friends and family – this is a service for all, young and old, able-bodied and disabled. Everybody is welcome.”

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Melissa Meyer

Future Cape Town London-based correspondent

Urbanist-in-training from Cape Town, currently working in London. MSc City Design & Social Science.

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