Flying to Japan

We sometimes take for granted how easy it is to fly across the world. The jet-engine revolution in civil aviation of the 1950s cut distances short considerably. I stumbled upon a few timetables from the 1950s and 60s which really drive that point home.


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Tokyo Olympics continued

While researching for my book chapter, I just stumbled upon this amazing simplified map of Tokyo. It appeared in Sports Illustrated in 1964, and shows all the venues and points of interest for the visitor to the Summer Olympics, which took place here in October. You can access by clicking on “view this issue” (or try this link instead and go to pages 44/45). See below for a screenshot (click to magnify).

Several of the buildings on the map will be discussed in the upcoming book: Hotel OkuraYoyogi National Gymnasium as well as Komazawa Olympic Park with its great stadiums. I wrote up a few facts on the Games here.

The photos preceding the map are gorgeous and the American tourism guide immediately after the map is worth the (cumbersome) read as well. From cheap taxis, road naming conventions, long nights followed by a Tsukiji fish market experience to buildings to be avoided for their apparent ugliness (Diet building, Tokyo Tower), the article is a great reminder of what has and what hasn’t changed since fifty years ago.


NYC housing

Another big issue in New York – and perhaps more so than in other big cities – is the scarcity of affordable housing. The Democratic mayoral candidates have all come forward with ambitious plans to increase the supply of subsidised units. Is that the best way to address the overall problem?

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NYC crime

The mayoral campaign is a great occasion to get newcomers like myself acquainted with the big issues in this town. One of these, stop-and-frisk, the US equivalent to the UK’s stop-and-search policy, has been under attack as it disproportionately targets Blacks and Hispanics.

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New York

Welcome to New York City! We arrived here a few days ago and are slowly settling in. In what has become tradition since Japan, my instincts immediately led me to two iconic 1950s buildings on Park Avenue. Jotting down some observations is one thing, yet I feel that exploring this city may need some more structure this time.

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Lever House

Just across the street from the Seagram Building is another classic from the early period of modernist New York skyscrapers. It was the pet project of “boy wonder” career-changer Charles Luckman. The building inspired other skyscrapers around the world, even reaching my native Berlin in the process.


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Seagram Building

The Seagram Building is German architect Mies van der Rohe’s sole contribution to New York’s skyline. In a city full of skyscrapers, his 1958 commission to build the Canadian liquor company’s headquarter manages to stand out until this day. Unlike any other NYC building, it also epitomises the downside of modernist architecture – its dismal environmental record.

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Some NY startups

New York is a veritable Silicon Valley rival. I stumbled upon this great list of about 600 NY-based startups. To get a feel for what’s happening in my new home I clicked through all of their websites. Herewith some of the tabs I kept open.


Kapitall is a venture that attempts to break down the barriers to investing. It uses simple and intuitive interfaces that make investing in the stock market accessible to those normally left out. Its mission is simple, it aims to cut out the complexity (e.g. make investing as simple as drag and drop) while still allowing for intelligent investing. In the end, there’s a clear business case as well – Kapitall has an attached brokerage.

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