Cities Project

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NPR's Series On Urban Life In The 21st Century

Songdo, outside Seoul, was envisioned as a futuristic international business hub, drawing residents from all over the world. Instead, this young city has become populated mostly by Koreans. Ari Shapiro/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Ari Shapiro/NPR

Mike Lester, CEO of Taxi 2000, sits in the SkyWeb Express in the company's warehouse in Fridley, Minn. The company has been working on SkyWeb Express system, a point-to-point personal rapid transit system. Ackerman + Gruber for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Ackerman + Gruber for NPR

Jay Austin's tiny house in Washington, D.C., has 10-foot ceilings, a loft bed over the bathroom and a galley-style kitchen. Franklyn Cater/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Franklyn Cater/NPR

Alfafar, a suburb of Valencia, Spain, is suffering from a poor economy and high unemployment. A quarter of homes are abandoned. Here, a cafe is still open on the ground floor of an abandoned municipal building in Alfafar's Orba neighborhood, but upper floors used to house shops. A pair of Spanish architects hopes to revitalize the high-density housing in this working-class area. Lauren Frayer/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Lauren Frayer/NPR

Kathy Van Sluyters (left), Barbara Carr and Colleen Dickinson chat on a recently finished sidewalk across from Wildflower Terrace, a mixed-income apartment building in the Mueller development for people ages 55 and over. Julia Robinson for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Julia Robinson for NPR

Solar Sunflowers, an art installation, greets visitors to Mueller's commercial and retail hub off of Interstate 35. The panels power a nightly light display and return power to the grid. When the development is complete, five miles of granite trails will connect the residents to its commercial and retail hubs. Julia Robinson for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Julia Robinson for NPR

A resident of Lathrop Homes leaves one of the few occupied buildings in the development. The city wants to redevelop the public housing as mixed use, and offered vouchers to encourage residents to relocate. Cheryl Corley/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Cheryl Corley/NPR

Walters Clothing carries styles that go back decades and shoes up to size 18. Its outsize selection has earned the attention of NBA stars and hip-hop artists. Eboni Lemon /New Voices Initiative, AIR hide caption

itoggle caption Eboni Lemon /New Voices Initiative, AIR

New apartment buildings are replacing empty lots in Mantua, one of Philadelphia's poorest neighborhoods. Will Figg for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Will Figg for NPR

The Los Angeles River in 2013. Engineers turned it into a narrow concrete channel in the 1940s, after a flood destroyed homes and left 100 people dead in 1938. Steve Lyon/Flickr hide caption

itoggle caption Steve Lyon/Flickr CEO Tony Hsieh is spearheading an effort to revitalize downtown Las Vegas and make it a tech hub, home for small businesses and a creative community. Isaac Brekken for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Isaac Brekken for NPR