I am usually a very fast reader, but I have been taking my sweet time over a treasure of a book called “The 99% Invisible City: A Field Guide to the Hidden World of Everyday Design” by Roman Mars and Kurt Kohlstedt. It was published last year and is a collection of pieces based, I presume, on the 99% Invisible City podcasts.
Each piece is quite short but filled to the brim with fascinating detail. They cover everything from the strange engineering marks we see on sidewalks, to the design of manhole covers, facades, traffic lights and signs, utility poles, traffic calming systems, revolving doors, brick and concrete, elevators, skyscrapers, grid systems, urban animals, street names and numbering, and a thousand other parts of the urban experience.
It is no exaggeration to say that I learned at least one new thing on every single page of this excellent book.
Publishers’ blurbs are generally just sales pitches but this one is completely accurate: “A beautifully designed guidebook to the unnoticed but essential elements of our cities,” and I can thoroughly recommend it to anyone interested in urbanism, planning, design, and life in a city.