Monday, June 6, 2011


OK. We have triumphantly returned to the States from Spain, despite Miami International Airports best efforts (Time it took to train to Madrid Airport, get through security, board plane, fly over the pond: 11 hours. Time it took to land in Miami, deplane, find customs, get through customs, get through a 2nd round of customs, then a 3rd round of customs, get to the gate for the connecting flight to Dallas, get stand-by listed and rolled to the later flight, then fly to Dallas, get baggage and drive from DFW to downtown Dallas: 13 hours.).

As I mentioned before, the plan in Spain was to fly into Madrid, catch the AVE (high speed train) to Barcelona, where we would stay for 2 nights, train to Valencia (in time to catch the Champions League final at a pub/get the hell outta Barcelona before the place got completely nutty), spend 5 nights in Valencia, then back to Madrid for a couple of days, flight availability dependent. Madrid was the only city of the three I had previously been to so it wasn't high on the priority list.

Over the next week or so, as time allows I'll be posting about the trip, things I learned, things I found interesting, relevant lessons for the states as they might apply given both and acknowledging the similarities and differences in the political and economic systems. After all, their crash was created by mimicking/borrowing/and manipulated by the US finance/real estate/no-demand-driven real estate nonsense. I was particularly interested to see the effects on the cities, daily life of the people, and particularly their form of "sprawl," i.e. supply without demand.

I have nearly 900 pictures to sort through, organize, as well as thoughts to organize into coherent (maybe?) posts, but nonetheless there are clear salient points to be gleaned and made peering both backwards and forwards through the looking glass of time as it relates to cities.

For now, keep an eye out for those, while I link to this story about new crime "heat" mapping at the Observer.


While there are many points and clarifications to be made here (such as the limitations on the types of crimes measured -- white collar has little effect on broken windows theory, but a broader, more destructive effect on the city as a whole -- and the value to society each of those might inflict -- each not really sorted), the most pressing one is that there is no "tare" or weighting of densities into this graphic and the data. It is simply crimes by block in a given time. That doesn't necessarily properly measure how safe you are in a particular area.

Point being, that if the density of one block is 1 person/block and there is 1 crime per year, there is a 100% chance of being the victim of a crime. On the other hand, if the density of a block is 250 and there is 10 crimes in a year, you're less likely to experience crime personally. Furthermore, these maps are guaranteed to make dense areas look more crime prone, which by raw numbers they are. However, in terms of per capita, usually you are far safer in more dense areas (with exceptions given to socio-economic conditions, homogeneity or diversity of demographic, overall spatial integration, and urban form that can be conducive to crime or not).

And as fate would have it, I was able to not be mugged in Barcelona despite nearly everyone I know or talked to having either been robbed or mugged there. Of course, locals we spoke to also warned of being anywhere near La Rambla at night. We generally stuck closer to Diagonal (which functions much as the city's main street), where are hotel was also located on, during the evening hours.