polis: a collective blog about cities worldwide

Bauhaus Center Tel Aviv on the International Style in Israel

"In 2004 UNESCO declared the city, as the world's largest concentration of International Style or 'Bauhaus' buildings, a world heritage site. The International Style dominated the huge wave of construction in the 1930's and '40's and represented prevailing values of the era, such as a clean and unadorned aspect and a basic formal vocabulary attentive to the climate and residents' needs. The development of industry and technology made it possible to create innovative compositions, unique to the era, around the world. In Tel Aviv it enabled a local urban style which was open and inclusive. Over the years many "Bauhaus" buildings were transformed by the addition of stories and the closing off of balconies; their original look was warped. Although the Municipality has resolved to preserve (many) buildings, it has no way to force houseowners to preserve homes and return them to their original condition. The initiative must be private and thus the renewal of Tel Aviv Bauhaus is a slow process."

Bauhaus Center Tel Aviv, from "Tel Aviv-Yafo. Preservation Map and Guide," 2010

This is part of a collection of quotes related to cities. They don't necessarily reflect our views, just topics of interest. We welcome you to add others.

Credits: Image of a Bauhaus building in decay on the Tel Aviv promenade, April 2011, by Rebecka Gordan. Image of Cafe Mana, Tel Aviv's promenade, 1938, by Rudi Weissenstein & The Photo House. For more information, see the Bauhaus Renovation Foundation.

Leon Reid IV: A Decade Of Public Art

by Vivien Park

Leon Reid IV, also known as Verbs and Darius Jones, creates street art that communicates directly with its surrounding community. Reid's body of work is currently on display at Pandemic Gallery, including his many sketches and models. Reid has been exhibited worldwide and has recently co-authored a novel, The Adventures of Darius and Downey, based on his experience with graffiti and street art.

Leon Reid IV: A Decade Of Public Art is on view until May 8, 2011.

Credits: Photo of True Yank from Pandemic Gallery blog.

Madrid’s Pharaoh

by Natalia Echeverri

After eight years of delays, traffic jams, noise and dust the last section of Madrid Rio — a combined infrastructure and public space project — was finally opened to the public on April 15. In the 1970's Madrid was cut off from the (already forgotten) Manzanares river by the construction of the M30 ring motorway. Although this separation of city and waterfront was a common phenomenon in many cities around the world in the mid-20th century, Madrid's "waterfront" went through the middle of the city, not at the edge; Madrid lost not only its river — it was cut in two. Neighborhoods once just over the river were instantly relegated to the periphery.

The Madrid Rio project, a six-kilometer linear park spanning the a sunken motorway is the finalization of a plan hatched a decade ago to reconnect the city center and adjacent neighborhoods to the river.

Designed jointly by landscape architects West8 and MRIO Arquitectos (a collection of architects including Burgos y Garrido, Porras & La Casta and Rubio & Alvarez-Sola), the design also links to existing historic parks, sports and cultural sites, and includes kilometers of bicycle paths, playgrounds, 32 foot bridges, 33,000 new planted trees, and an urban beach.

This large infrastructure project is one of many initiated by Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon, Madrid's ambitious mayor. Gallardon came to power with a vision of reinventing Madrid by turning it into a global city. Following the Barcelona example, he became obsessed with winning the 2012 Olympics bid. When he lost to London, he tried again for the 2016 games. The river project, along with an airport expansion, new sports arenas, and underground parking lots, were part of this strategy. Many people — locally and abroad — simply began referring to the mayor as "The Pharaoh". He seems to have deserved his nickname — since he came into power 2003 Gallardon started more than 70 major construction projects. Poorly managed (the Madrid Rio was delayed and for twice what it was supposed to cost), overly ambitious, and spanning Spain's recent boom/bust, the projects helped contribute to Madrid's debt — the largest in Spain — and leading the city into bankruptcy. After enduring living in the largest construction site in Europe, Madrid resident will now have to pay for all the projects with increasing taxes for the next few decades.

In times of economic hardship, large infrastructural projects are usually welcomed for creating jobs and building public assets. The works of the WPA in the USA during the great depression are often referenced in this way. Certainly the Madrid Rio, seen alone, is a valuable addition to the city that has done much to correct decades of neglect and bad planning. But in Madrid, these projects were undertaken not in a crisis, but in the heat of a speculative boom. In all this excitement, and with seemingly overflowing municipal coffers, urban renewal was not undertaken in an incremental way — it was an attempt at instant transformation. What's more, the rush seemed too political, a kind of legacy-making that was more pharaonic than benevolent.

Credits: Image of landscape and section of Manzanares River and M30 from Landezine.com. Map of Manzanares Rio from Landezine.com. Image of construction at the Manzanares and birdseye from El Pais.

The Peruvian Presidential Election in Miami Beach

by Hector Fernando Burga

On April 10th, Peru held its very contested presidential national elections. The city of Miami is home to an ex-pat community of over 70,000 — the third largest community of Peruvian ex-pats after Spain and Argentina.

Paradoxically, the Peruvian national elections were held at the Miami Beach Convention Center, where I, and many other nationals from countries all over the world swore allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.

The same space in iconographic Miami Beach pays homage to multiple national identities and their intertwined civic capacities. A place of personal memory and political affiliation is unveiled through scenes of a double citizenship.

Peruvian Nationals make a line to vote at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

Kids play among barriers dividing voting urns.

A man wears the Brazilian Flag in the Peruvian presidential election.

A voting station awaits voters.

A neat line of before a voting station.

A woman decides to skip the lines and enter the voting floor.

Voters rest and congregate with their loved ones.

Facing the choice of the next president.

The do-it-yourself portable voting kit.

Voting among the multitude.

Credits: Photos by Hector Fernando Burga.

Urban Contemporary

by Peter Sigrist

Luther Vandross would have been 60 years old today. His songs bring back memories of summer, when they would sizzle from the windows of cars stopped at intersections. It seemed like everyone listened to WDKX, the station dedicated to urban contemporary. Luther was a fixture among a lively mix of post-1960 R&B, soul, hip hop, funk, reggae, jazz, gospel, and other music with African-American roots.

Now the term urban contemporary seems dated. Is urban still a substitute for African American? According to a study of 2010 census data by the Brookings Institution (State of Metropolitan America), those who identify as "black" are leaving cities in large numbers. The percentage of African Americans living in suburbs became a majority in 2008, having risen seven points since 2000. Other ethnic groups, including recent immigrants, are choosing to live in suburbs as well (Wei Li, via Timothy Egan). At the same time, many who identify as "white" are moving to cities. Increases were found in the District of Columbia, Atlanta, New York, San Francisco, Boston, and seven other large metropolitan areas. This trend is prevalent among highly educated young people from a range of ethnic backgrounds, including African Americans. Brookings demographer William H. Frey calls it "'bright flight' to cities that have become magnets for aspiring young adults who see access to knowledge-based jobs, public transportation and a new city ambiance as an attraction" (MSNBC). It will be interesting to see whether they stay to raise families.

It sounds very promising that cities and suburbs are becoming more ethnically diverse. However, the Brookings study also reveals a 25% growth in suburban poverty — five times the rate for cities. This raises the question of whether urban areas that attract capital are becoming sites of increasing economic exclusion, as suburbs have so often been. If so, urban amenities will likely improve as outlying areas are marginalized. Is it possible that someday only the wealthy will be able to live in cities?

There must be a way to attract and maintain the kind of diversity that's evident in the video for "Never Too Much," by Luther Vandross.

Credits: Images captured from the video for "Never Too Much" (see link above).

Paris est une grosse pomme. New York is a city of light.

by Alex Schafran

I have now lived in Paris for a grand total of 10 days — perhaps 40 days if you count my sojourn in the winter — so I have no business writing this post. But perhaps that is why the gods created the blogosphere in the first place.

From the day I arrived in the shadow of the Montmartre for the pregame show in December, I have had the unshakable feeling that I am back in New York. December's urbangeist can easily be chalked up to that strange homogenizing force us Californians call winter, whose grey skies, black overcoats, blue hands and extra helping of spleen render all places as either cute mountain village with log cabin or frozen urban tundra.

Now that the weather is obscenely nice and it is light out until 9pm, les terrasses are filled to the brim with coffee drinkers and the day-long aperitif, and all the world has emerged onto the surprisingly (mostly) dogshit free streets of Paris for some post-modern flaneurie or a trip to visit the (again almost inconceivably) nice people at La Poste, one would think that this feeling would have subsided.

It has not.

Yes, Paris has better bread, worse pizza, and a drinking fountain that dispenses sparkling water. Being that I am 14 months shy of my black belt in urbanism, I can probably list its differences until I am blue in the face and you are bored to tears. Yet that is not the point. The point is convergence.

Architecturally, they are radically different, but the way they do sameness — the Upper West Side's mass or Brooklyn's brownstones give New York a consistency that is not too different from Paris' famed 6/7, much like how the grid of Manhattan and the ungrid of Paris actually feel similar to me. The metro and the constant pedestrianism are such powerful unifying forces that they are impossible to duplicate, providing a similar underbelly of mobility and energy.

But it is in the cultural and social world which I am noticing the true similarities. They are the epitome of bourgeois cities, having essentially invented and perfected the concept between the two of them. They have bankers and financiers, MBA's and ENARC's in droves, with so much money it is absurd, the only difference is that Parisian bankers are far better dressed and even more likely to be born rich. The other half of the bourgeois economy is in culture — art, fashion, museums, music, books, food — or in support services like PR and web design, producing a set of hipsters so eerily identical that everyone in my neighborhood who looks like me also dresses like me and actually might be me. Strong renters rights and varying types and degrees of affordable/public/social housing mean that old people and poor people actually still live in the city, even as the slow and steady creep of gentrication/embourgeoisement presses onward and outward.

There is even a subtle but potent race/class correlation, with Paris's Moroccan, Algerian and Tunisians standing in for Puerto Ricans and Dominicans, multiple generations of African and Afro-Caribbean immigration creating a black French culture not completely different from New York's (not the US's) complex racial story. Connections between black and brown are forged both through immigrant and hiphop culture and through the simultaneous desire to fit in and stand out in a society that won't completely accept them. Black women push white babies in strollers, and little old ladies from every corner of the world push carts laden with discounts.

Perhaps this is very much an ephemeral feeling, perhaps it is shallow, perhaps it is structural. We shall see. But let me offer two thoughts as to why I find it hard to ignore:

1. It is phenomenal how much history these cities have shared, sending ideas back and forth, about parks and urbanism and social housing and street life and urban economics. They have walked the same path of transformation from industrial giant to knowledge and finance giant, are global centers of intellectualism and intellectual production, of romantic stories and romantic ideas. They have housed each others revolutionaries when times were not right, and read and watched and gazed at each others greatest artists for more than 150 years. The globalized linkage between the two cities are some of the earliest forms of modern globalization that we know.

2. During the heydey of globalization hype a decade or so ago, the punditry first said everything was becoming the same. Then the post-pundits said no, it is all different, and it depends on your perspective. Yet what we miss at times in the difference discussions is how similar things can be for people of a certain class in a certain type of city at a certain time. To be a little old lady on a pension hanging on in a gentrifying neighborhood or a hipster digging in in a gentrifying neighborhood or a banker getting rich on a gentrifying neighborhood or a working class young man of color traveling from public housing through a gentrifying neighborhood, life in certain global cities seems to have taken on a series of different tranches, to use an awful but fitting finance term we all know too well these days.

Credits: Photos of Paris by Alex Schafran.

Arjun Appadurai on ‘Production of Locality’

"The production of locality is a reminder that even the most apparently mechanical forms of social order that seem to function without design, contingency, or intentionality but simply by the force of routine — what we used to call habit — involve large amounts of deliberate attention, effort and labor.  Part of that attention, effort, and labor is involved in collective ideas of what is possible.  Therefore, for the local to have some spatialized embodiment takes an effort which transcends that very spatiality.  So the idea is not to, as it were, de-spatialize the local, or evacuate the spatial from the local, but to add something to it.  That is to say, for mere spatiality to take its form, there has to be an effort, a 'production of locality,' which is much more complex.  Once that effort to produce the local is fully observed, we will also, among other things, get a deeper sense of what it means to produce, inhabit, and sustain spatial relations. We won't have substituted something else for the spatial part of the local but will have enriched the logic of the spatial in the local."

Arjun Appadurai, from "Illusion of Permanence," in Perspecta, Volume 34, pp. 44-52, 2003

This is part of a collection of quotes related to cities. They don't necessarily reflect our views, just topics of interest. We welcome you to add others.

Credits: Photo of a skater in Reykjavík, Iceland, by Andrew Wade.

Featured Author: Ramón Fernandez Durán

by Jordi Sánchez-Cuenca

This post is a tribute to a prolific Spanish author and eco-social activist, Ramón Fernández Durán (RFD), perhaps the most important author behind Spain's current social and environmentalist movements. His carrer as a byword started with his book "the explosion of disorder" (1993), which had a large impact in the academic and environmentalists' circles and marked the way in a new leftist movement, different from orthodox traditional socialism. He introduced the Bretton Woods issue in Spain (origin of the World Bank, Internacional Monetary Fund and GATT) through his analysis of the modern economic regime in Spain and Europe and its spatial logic reflected in the metropolises.

He then published "against capital's Europe," which helped integrate the analysis of the dynamics of capital and power structures in the environmental movements. In 2001 he co-authored "capitalist globalization: struggles and resistance," analyzing the social movements around the anti-globalization demostrations that took place around the World preceding George W. Bush's catastrophic management of the U.S. economic empire.

In 2003 RFD was already foreseeing the real estate bubble that would lead to the crisis in Spain in his contribution to the book about urban agriculture "don't play with food". RFD continued his critical analysis of the World's urbanizing madness with "Spain's and the World's urbanizing tsunami", further structuring his prediction of the crisis through the links between the globalized financial capital and real estate production.

From then on, RFD focused in the evolution of energy use in humanity and the current environmental crises, which would culminate with his books “anthropocene,” in which he analyses the roots and prospects of today's multidimensional crisis that has energy as its backbone, and "breakdown of global capitalism", in which he suggests us to be ready for the beginning collapse of the industrial civilization.

References: "the explosion of disorder": La explosión del desorden. La metrópolis como espacio de la crisis global (Ed. Fundamentos, 1993); Contra la Europa del Capital y la Globalización Económica (Talasa 1996); "capitalist globalization": Globalización Capitalista: Luchas y Resistencia (Virus Ed. 2001); "don't play with food": Con la comida no se juega: alternativas autogestionarias a la globalización capitalista desde la agroecología y el consumo (Traficantes de Sueños 2003); "Spain's and the World's urbanizing tsunami": El tsunami urbanizador español y mundial. Sobre sus causas y repercusiones devastadoras, y la necesidad de prepararse para el previsible estallido de la burbuja (Virus Ed. 2006); "anthropocene": El Antropoceno: la Crisis Ecológica se Hace Mundial. La expansión del capitalismo choca con la biosfera (Virus Ed. 2011); La Quiebra del Capitalismo Global: 2000-2030. Preparándonos para el comienzo del colapso de la Civilización Industrial(Virus Ed. 2011).

Credits: I based this post on a tribute text by Iván Murray from the UIB.

New Urban Topologies: Chişinău and Minsk

by Rebecka Gordan

Illegal parking on public squares, city parks threatened by flashy constructions, squatted landmarks and anonymous module suburbs emerging at breakneck speed. These are some of the challenges and opportunities facing Chişinău and Minsk, the capital cities of Moldova and Belarus, which were the first sites for Färgfabriken’s new project New Urban Topologies (NUT).

Färgfabriken is a Swedish center for contemporary art and architecture with an international scope. In October 2010, Färgfabriken, in conjunction with its Moldovan and Belarusian partners Oberliht and Ў Gallery, conducted extensive programs on urban development on site in the two cities.

Yesterday, the publication summarizing this project was released. New Urban Topologies: The Chişinău and Minsk Experience was edited by me, Rebecka Gordan, and can be downloaded for free. The book chronicles the thoughts, dreams and demands of a diverse group of participants, from squatters to municipal administrators, in Chişinău, Stockholm and Minsk.

The aim of the project is to create an open and free platform where groups and individuals that rarely meet can discuss and come up with new concepts for the future of their cities and compare the challenges and prospects of those. The initial implementation of NUT is a first step in a larger context, in which Färgfabriken will deepen the partnerships and processes already started. What lies ahead are also collaborations with the Balkans and the Middle East—regions now undergoing rapid and tumultuous development.

The road is not paved yet, but new contacts have already begun to sprout among students, professionals, and teachers in Stockholm, Chişinău, and Minsk. Jointly with the Swedish Institute (the government agency that funds the project), Färgfabriken aims for a process that will grow organically with people, projects, countries, cities, and ideas.

Credits: Cover of publication by Lina Lindqvist and Rebecka Gordan. Photos of New Urban Topologies participants and
Coliseum Palace, both in Chisinau, by Rebecka Gordan.

The Tolbiac Settlement in Dakar, Senegal

by Melissa García Lamarca

Tolbiac is an informal settlement (known as a barak in Wolof) quite different from most others in Dakar, Senegal. Located in the Plateau district, relatively close to the port, this area was of strategic importance to the city when French imperialism began in 1857. During this period urbanisation was driven by the need to build Dakar as the city connecting the new colonial power and their other French West African colonies, at both political and economic levels. Thus all urban development focused on the Plateau.

While Dakar’s first city plan created at the end of the nineteenth century accepted the native Lébu fisherman population on the Plateau, the 1914 plague epidemic gave the French the perfect excuse to segregate and separate themselves from the natives, whose ‘dirtiness’ was blamed for spreading disease. As the Lebús were pushed northwards on the Cap Vert peninsula, into Medina, the Plateau and port area became fully controlled by Europeans. The Lebús had to receive authorisation to cross the 50 metre no man’s land dividing Medina from the Plateau to enter the latter space.

The city has transformed greatly through subsequent plans and especially since Senegal’s independence in 1960. Although certainly no longer exclusively European, a lot of their architectural heritage remains particularly in the Plateau. Due to rapid urban growth pressures on a limited peninsular space, the land values in this area are quite high by Dakar standards.

Recycling in Tolbiac.

Considering this history, and the general absence of informal settlements on the Plateau, encountering Tolbiac in this location was a surprise. It is nestled between two busy streets – Rue de Liban and Rue Félix Eboué – with hints of Dakar’s nearby Grande Mosquée poking into the sky in the northwest (when one is able to get a glimpse of the horizon over corrugated iron roofs and walls). Unless one knows where to find it this barak it would easily go unseen; its labyrinthic streets (e.g. photo at left) exist in an enclosed, walled off space virtually invisible from the surrounding streets, although people living there have a recycling collection and storage space, provide laundry, tailoring and other services to the wealthier residents surrounding them (images below).

Laundry services.

A meeting and tour with Amoul Yakar Mbaye, the founder of the Ecole de la Rue (School of the Street) that works with many children and adults living in Tolbiac, uncovered a lot of the activities in and functioning of this fascinating space. While many details still remain unclear – and unfortunately there is a surprising absence of information on the topic online, in French or English and the time spent in the community was limited – the international NGO ENDA-Tiers Monde, headquartered in Dakar, came into Tolbiac in the past decade to help people obtain some level of (more) secure tenure, connect to surrounding electricity and water infrastructure and build skills in the community. Tolbiac’s residents now have a right to settlement in the space they presently occupy for the coming 25 years, there is a free toilet block (image left) and water available for an accessible fee and training centres exist for metal workers and carpenters who construct beautiful pieces as well as housing for Tolbiac’s residents.

Head carpenter with Amoul Yakar Mbaye.

Carpentry work.

While the NGO has played an important role establishing these skills and services, many newly trained (and now highly skilled) metal workers and carpenters are struggling to find clients. Not enough financial support exists at present to move these projects forward, as unemployment is rife in Dakar and indeed across Senegal, with deep structural roots. How can such capacities be built and maintained in this context? And what will Tolbiac’s future hold as the 25 year lease giving a right to settle expires? Any Polis readers with more information, please share your thoughts and knowledge.

Credits: Map adapted from Mbow et al., 2008, Urban Sprawl Development and Flooding at Yeumbeul Suburb (Dakar, Senegal), Figure 1. Photos by Melissa García Lamarca.

‘To Live and Skate in Kabul’

by George Carothers

Skimming through the coverage of war and conflict sheds little light into the lives and livelihoods of those at the centre of the ordeal. Cities on the brink, or in the midst of war can be incredibly scary and destitute places for residents caught in the crossfire of bullets and shelling. And yet, many have few options of moving elsewhere, so they continue to exist, hoping that the misery will soon pass.

Mentioning, “Afghanistan” comes with an endless stream of imagery, most of which evoke scenes of violence, sadness, social injustice, and confusion.  Still, on the streets of the city of Kabul, it is possible to see that some residents find ways to escape the violence, at least for a moment, and to step into a new world of exploration and experience.

Skateistan, a project that is promoting co-educational classes in skateboarding, is trying to bring an alternative dimension to the lives of youngsters in the largest Afghan city. “They not only develop skills in skateboarding and skateboarding instruction, but also healthy habits, civic responsibility, information technology, the arts, and languages.” Through these experiences, some of Kabul’s boys and girls are rediscovering themselves and their city through the increasingly global language of skateboarding.

Credits: Video of 'Skateistan: To Live and Skate in Kabul' from Diesel New Voices.

Crowd-Sourcing Design: What Would You Change About NYC?

by Katia Savchuk

It began as a typical design competition. The Institute for Urban Design in New York would select five sites – one in each borough – and issue a call for proposals to architects and planners. Winners would be featured at the first annual Urban Design Week, a public festival that the Institute is planning, along with other partners, for September 2011.
But members of the organization – mostly architects, planners and other design professionals – thought that sounded a little…traditional.

Thus was born By the City / For the City, a digital public forum that went live today. The website will be collecting ideas for bettering New York from anyone familiar with the city (you don’t have to be a current resident), whether citywide systems or just a block or two. Participants can geo-tag their idea on a map and share related links and photos. You can instantly track submissions in map or list form.

The method is basically crowd-sourcing sites for the international design competition, which will take place in May.

“We're categorizing the entries as they come in to figure out not only what scales most people think on when presented with an open call for ideas about their physical environment, but also to figure out what types of sites and situations are of greatest interest, and where,” said Brendan Crain, the Institute’s program coordinator.

The Institute will synthesize and analyze information from the public response and invite architects, planners and urbanists to create proposals addressing the challenges. Highlights will be on view at Urban Design Week (September 15-20, 2011) and appear in an “atlas” published in time for the event.

You have until April 30 to join the crowd.

Credits: Screenshots from By the City / For the City.

Jacques Rancière on Politics

“Politics is not made up of power relationships; it is made up of relationships between worlds.”

Jacques Rancière, from Dis-agreement: Politics and Philosophy, 1999 (via Mustafa Dikeç’s “Space, Politics, and the Political,” in Environment and Planning D, 2005

This is part of a collection of quotes related to cities. They don’t necessarily reflect our views, just topics of interest. We welcome you to add others.

Credits: Dish by Sergei Chekhonin (“Intellect Can Not Tolerate Bondage”) scanned from Russian Avant-Garde Ceramic Art.

Reclaiming Urban Cinemas

by Peter Sigrist

As people move to cities, do cinemas follow suit? For years they've moved in the opposite direction: from central movie palaces to neighborhood movie houses to suburban movie theaters. They've lost ground to home entertainment systems and mobile devices. Some of the old cinemas have survived, but in many cases they've been demolished or reused.

There was a theater near my childhood home with a dramatic marquee that hovered above the sidewalk. It had a balcony and an expansive arching window on the second floor. Eventually it became an adult theater. A cinema in my friend's neighborhood showed films for $3 (and still does). I remember the owner's cat wandering around the lobby. Today, people around the world are preserving and reviving these kinds of theaters in interesting ways.

The Southeast Asia Movie Theater Project is a collection of information and images related to urban cinemas. Viewers are encouraged to add content. According to the site description, whether theaters are "operating, abandoned, or converted to something else, here their images have been compiled and displayed for the public record." As standard multiplexes become more and more prevalent, we might find inspiration in unique and potentially endangered theaters like these.

Agility Nut's Roadside Architecture collection includes a surprisingly vast assortment of movie theaters from North America. The curator, Debra Jane Seltzer, posts images from her travels, with emphasis on "atmospheric, Art Deco, and Streamline Moderne" theaters from the 1920s through 1940s. She also encourages viewers to submit recommendations. Seeing all these examples kept me from romanticizing old cinemas. While they're more varied than those of today, often with strikingly creative typography and detailing, architectural masterpieces were as rare then as ever. Still, old and new theaters can be wonderful additions to city streets.

San Francisco comes to mind when I think of great urban cinemas. The Roxie, the Balboa, the Castro, the Presidio, and the Red Vic, for example, are easily accessible without a car and offer singular experiences. I'm not sure if they're profitable, but they seem very popular. There's a foundation dedicated to their preservation and maintenance. Film festivals and other events help keep them solvent; you can even rent some theaters during off hours to play video games.

There must be all kinds of promising ideas for urban cinemas. With hope, there will always be alternatives to generic theaters surrounded by parking lots outside the city.

Credits: Images linked to source.