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Chicago of “I, Robot”

The movie I, Robot, (very) loosely based on Isaac Asimov’s short stories, takes place in Chicago, in the year 2035. In the movie, the main new addition to the skyline is the US Robotics building. Here are a collection of photographs and charts exploring the architecture and skyline of Chicago from the movie. Attempts are made to place the new building in its setting (complete with a map of where the US Robotics building is located), as well as better understand the skyline design in general.

The Skyscraper Museum’s BIG BUILDINGS

Awhile back, the Skyscraper Museum in New York City had an exhibit entitled BIG BUILDINGS. This exhibit, with an extensive online component, explored the history of really big buildings. Two categories, based on research, were created for these large structures, called Jumbos and Super Jumbos. These are buildings that are extreme, both in height and volume, relative to when they were built. Here is the Jumbo calculation methodology and here are the Jumbos and Super Jumbos built since 1950 (as of 1999, when the exhibit was held). Lots of good pictures and data for the skyscraper enthusiast.

NYC Punster Subway Conductor

From 1973 until 1993, Harry Nugent provided entertainment in addition to information as a conductor for the New York Subway. The IHT had article an about his retirement, which included this witticism, which he used when the train was delayed:

Someone once said that success is a journey and not a destination, and by that definition we’re eminently successful.

Also, in 1995, a brief documentary about Nugent was made.

Network Theory in Cities

Jason Kottke recently pondered what the minimum number of New York City residents one would need to choose, such that these people know every single person in the city:

Any guesses as to the smallest group size? Better yet, is there any research out there that specifically addresses this question? Or is it impossible…are there people living in the city (shut-ins, hermits) who don’t know anyone else?

People have been commenting about it on the blog, where the consensus seems to be about 10,000 people (this sounds pretty reasonable). My two-cents (which can be seen as the first comment on kottke) are reproduced here:

 This is actually a well-established problem in graph theory called the vertex-cover problem. It is NP-hard, which means that there are no really good algorithms for it (although some approximate algorithms are good within a factor of two). In terms of answering this for NYC itself, my guess would be something on the order of 1000 or so. But I don’t have a good reason for that number, just a feeling. You could probably do better by assuming a power-law distribution for the number of acquaintances and derive a better estimate, but I haven’t thought about that in detail.

Fight between Walk/Don’t Walk Sign Guys

Snickers has a new ad that imagines what would happen if the Walk/Don’t Walk guys in the street signs at crosswalks came to life. The Red and Green guys duke it out, apparently hard-wired to fight their opposite color. The graphics are great and it’s an enjoyable and very watchable ad. Most importantly, it stands up to repeat viewings, which means that one will not go insane seeing it more than once on television. (via veryshortlist)

House Built from Big Dig Materials

In the article Salvage Artists in a recent New Yorker, Paul Goldberger wrote about the construction of the Big Dig House. Single Speed Design, at the commission of Paul Pedini, built a house entirely out of leftover materials from Boston’s Big Dig:

 The basic structure is entirely made up of salvaged steel and concrete from the Big Dig—three hundred tons’ worth. Because the materials were obtained for free, and because Pedini was able to do much of the construction himself, the house, which measures forty-three hundred square feet, was built at the strikingly low cost of approximately a hundred and seventy-five dollars per square foot. Yet it doesn’t look like a recycled highway, and it would be among the best contemporary houses in the Boston area even if it had been built the old-fashioned way.

R2-D2 Mailboxes and USPS Jedi Masters

I just noticed that some USPS mailboxes are decorated to look like R2-D2, which is fun and great. I also noticed that there is a web address on them: I went there and the site cryptically announces the union of Star Wars and the Postal Service on March 28. I have no clue what this might be (though Trend Hunter thinks it might be a line of Star Wars stamps). Any ideas?

Indoor Foliage Capital of the World, and Other City Nicknames

I was recently in Scranton (home of, among other things, Dunder-Mifflin), and saw the large sign proclaiming Scranton as the Electric City. It is called this due to being one of the first electrified cities. Buffalo, also one of the first cities to have electric lighting, has the nickname the City of Light.

This all got me thinking: what are the nicknames of other cities? Here are Wikipedia’s list of city nicknames and list of American city nicknames. Both of these are large collections, although curiously, neither contains the nicknames I just mentioned (although presumably, being Wikipedia, this can be easily rectified). The list of city nicknames does have a great subset of agricultural and industrial capital nicknames though. For example, the Collar City (Troy, NY), Indoor Foliage Capital of the World (Apopka, FL), Horseradish Capital of the World (Tulelake, CA).

The Steagles

No, this is not about Steagle Colbeagle the Eagle. The Steagles were a football team for only the 1943 season. They were a merger of the Steelers and the Eagles, due to the military service of many football players. Interestingly, this merger turned out to be the first winning season for Philadelphia.