The Top 10 TED Talks about Cities

Photo credit: TED.

1. Amanda Burden: How Public Spaces Make Cities Work

Just like a vase, the thing that makes a city truly useful are its empty spaces. From pocket parks to promenades, a city's public spaces need to serve its citizens. Animal behaviorist Amanda Burden helped New York City map some new spaces based on those needs.

2. Geoffrey West: The Surprising Math of Cities and Corporations

Math -- in all its simple complexity -- scares a lot of people. Not physicist Geoffrey West. He embraced math as a governing principle in cities and found that urban success can be determined by a single, solitary number: population. Well, at least in the short run. Small cities might have a resilience advantage.

3. Alex Steffen: The Shareable Future of Cities

Alex Steffen wants us to get out of our cars and into our neighborhoods. Here, Steffen illustrates how various green projects can help us do that... and more. Nice variation on a theme outlined by Chris Carlsson in one of Shareable's first posts.

4. Moshe Safdie: How to Reinvent the Apartment Building

Way back in 1967, Moshe Safdie had a vision of apartment buildings that he dubbed “Habitat ’67.” It was an open, expansive imagining that he feels cities need now more than ever.

5. Eduardo Paes: The Four Commandments of Cities

As the mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Eduardo Paes knows a thing or two about sprawl. Using his city of 6.5 million people as an example, Paes describes four basic principles he feels can move urban centers forward in a practical and smart manner. 

6. Jeff Speck: The Walkable City

Taking another route, urbanist Jeff Speck goes through the suburbs to get us out of our cars which he calls "a gas-belching, time-wasting, life-threatening prosthetic device." The key, he says, is to make cities more easily and pleasantly walkable for the people who inhabit them.

7. Paul Romer: The World's First Charter City

What might a democracy and trade-based city look like? Paul Romer thinks he knows. And he thinks a "charter city" in Honduras might just prove him right.

8. Catherine Bracy: Why Good Hackers Make Good Citizens

According to Catherine Bracy, hackers aren't the subversive trouble makers many believe them to be. In places as far-flung as Honolulu and Mexico City, hackers are contributing to their communities through civic-minded projects.

9. Enrique Peñalosa: Why Buses Represent Democracy in Action

Enrique Peñalosa, the former mayor of Bogotá, also wants to get people moving in different ways. His solution elevates the most humble form of public transit, buses: "An advanced city is not one where even the poor use cars, but rather one where even the rich use public transport." He's also know for his ideas about designing cities for happiness.

10. Dan Barasch: A Park Underneath the Hustle and Bustle of New York City

While Amanda Burden focuses her efforts in New York City above sea level, Dan Barasch and James Ramsey have something else in mind. Their plan is to build a technologically advanced, year-round, underground greenspace called Lowline in a long-abandoned trolley terminal.

These are Shareable's top 10 picks, but the TED archive is vast. What did I miss. Please let me know in comments.

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