clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Wish we’d published that

Curbed’s annual nod to writers and outlets who ran the year’s best stories on cities, people, and trends

Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford in All the President's Men
Mondadori Portfolio / Getty Images

‘Tis the season for best-of lists. We’ve rounded up some of our favorites from and Curbed NY, and now it’s time to tip our hats to the stories we most enjoyed reading on other sites in 2017. Have a favorite we missed? Chime in with your recommendations in the comments section.

Frances Gabe, Creator of the Only Self-Cleaning Home, Dies at 101 by Margalit Fox for The New York Times
There is almost no one else we’d rather hang out with than Frances Gabe (RIP), the quippy visionary behind the world’s only self-cleaning house: a modest bungalow outside of Portland, Oregon, which was patented in 1984 and contained nearly 70 inventions. Her model—once described as “basically a giant dishwasher”—was intended to relieve women of the drudgery of housecleaning. In a year of reckoning around gender roles, Gabe’s lifelong purpose (“Housework is a thankless, unending job”) seems especially prescient. —Kelsey Keith

Doomsday Prep for the Super Rich by Evan Osnos for The New Yorker
Safe to say we’re all pretty fascinated by “preppers,” people who are getting a jumpstart on planning for how they’ll survive in case civilization collapses. (Last year, we wrote about a trend in safe rooms and bunkers; we’ve also covered a high-end doomsday suburb in Texas and read about survival moms.) But Osnos’s in-depth account of ultra-wealthy tech honchos—“brogrammers,” if you will—gearing up with laser eye surgery, helicopters, and archery really takes the (rice) cake. —KK

Millennials are screwed by Michael Hobbes for HuffPo’s Highline
Our main source of envy over this comprehensive breakdown on the “whys” of the millennial housing crisis has to do with its development: so! many! goodies! to! hold! your! attention! (Scary statistics are good, pixelated video game explaining structural disadvantage is great.) This piece provides an extraordinary amount of context, packaged in catchy design, with a crystal-clear thesis: “The crisis of our generation cannot be separated from the crisis of affordable housing.” —KK

How the Pioneer Woman Is Single-Handedly Saving a Small Oklahoma Town by Khushbu Shah for Thrillist
Ree Drummond, a.k.a. the Pioneer Woman, is best known for her blog, but she has more recently taken her empire into the real world with a "destination bakery, deli, and general store" in Pawhuska, Oklahoma. A restaurant owned by a celebrity has the potential for a significant impact on a town of 3,600 people, and writer Khushbu Shah traveled to Pawhuska to see how The Mercantile, Drummond’s restaurant, has changed its hometown.—Sara Polsky

L.A. Has the Worst Idea on Housing by Hamilton Nolan for Deadspin
A searing Hamilton Nolan on “Measure S,” an intentionally obtuse measure on the local ballot in Los Angeles in March of this year. Curbed LA reported the hell out of Measure S, but sometimes a firebrand puts it best and writes it short: “Cities that don’t have enough housing to meet demand—cities like Los Angeles, and New York, and San Francisco—are cities that fall into affordable housing crises, with rents skyrocketing and middle and lower class people being priced out. This is common sense.” —KK

Some Kind of Calling by Pam Houston for Outside
In 1993, writer Pam Houston, 31 years old and living in a tent, purchased a Colorado ranch. Over years of keeping the ranch running, she writes in Outside, she learned how to make a home after an unsafe childhood. “Sometime in the past 25 years, the ranch changed from being the thing I always had to figure out how to pay for to the place I have spent my life.” Reading this piece will make you reconsider your relationship with every home you’ve ever had.—SP

Designing a More Inclusive City by Allison Arieff for The New York Times
Have you ever wondered why you can’t find a seat in certain sprawling public spaces? If you’ve been paying attention, you’re probably aware of some of the systemic inequalities in your city—including but not limited to “cul-de-sacs, cold water, “No Loitering” signs, the Fair Housing Act.” Arieff lays it out her call to action in plain language (while repping a book this column mentions, also worth reading, by Interboro Partners). —KK

Trapped: The Grenfell Tower Story by Tom Lamont for GQ
The horror of London’s Grenfell Tower gripped readers this summer when 71 residents of the concrete block high-rise died in a sudden inferno. After the fact, much has been made of the cheap, not-at-all-fire-resistant cladding added to the tower in 2016, as well as Grenfell’s position as one of few middle-class and lower-income housing developments in a city . Lamont’s piece from November adds human faces to the mass atrocity—it’s both hard to read and absolutely necessary. —KK

Influence: How Instagram Made All Places Anyplace by Sarah Stodola for Flung
As #digital #media #people, the conflation of visuals, storytelling, Instagram, and lives lived online is a consistent topic of discussion. The following is true, whether you’re talking about van life, or people’s homes, or an outdoor adventure, or a quaint street scene: “...the harder we try for authenticity, the more inauthentic our experience is likely to become. I’m thinking here of the way when we go to exotic places, we tend to fetishize the local way of life and force some kind of inspirational takeaway onto it.” —KK

Here’s a suburban experiment cities can learn from by Amanda Kolson Hurley for The Washington Post Magazine
Columbia, Maryland, is a spread-out suburb full of dead ends and lacking in public transportation. But a half-century after it first welcomed residents, the town isn’t a complete relic, and in fact, Columbia’s creator, James Rouse, had some ideas that were years ahead of his time, including a community health plan and interfaith centers rather than single-denomination churches, temples, and synagogues. “It turns out that stable, diverse, flourishing communities can exist without short city blocks, warehouses-turned-lofts and beer gardens,” Amanda Kolson Hurley writes for The Washington Post, “and Columbia is the proof.” —SP

What stories did you love, hate to love, or email to everyone in your contacts list? Sound off in the comments!