How Many Cities Can Fit Into Houston?

In America, “big” cities don't necessarily boast a lot of square mileage, but mid-sized metros can be monstrous areas. Thanks to decades of policies encouraging suburban growth, and streetscapes designed to accommodate more and more cars, cities that evolved in mid-20th century America tend to sprawl across massive tracts of land. 

This phenomenon is on full display in a new set of infographics by RENTCafe, an apartment listings website. You can see how older urban areas, like Manhattan, Washington D.C., Boston, and Philadelphia compare to sprawling giants like Houston, Oklahoma City, and Jacksonville, Fla. 

The Houston map above gives you a sense of how wonky metropolitan borders can be. The city limits are as jagged as a Christmas tree’s outline. Not to mention the fact that three of the country's top population centers—Manhattan, Chicago, and Philadelphia—can fit inside its borders. 

Look how big Chicago is compared to the 747-square-mile Jacksonville, a city with almost 2 million fewer people:

It makes sense that Oklahoma City, with a population of more than 600,000, stretches over a bigger area than Pittsburgh, with its 305,000 people. But it’s huge compared to Philadelphia, which boasts almost a million more residents. The city’s sprawl issue has been linked to its obesity problem, and in 2007, the mayor introduced a health-conscious urban design plan to make walking around town a more viable option, like a new streetcar line and new sidewalks. 

All images via RENTCafe

New Website Lets You Sift Through More Than 700,000 Items Found in Amsterdam's Canals

Amsterdam's canals are famous for hiding more than eight centuries of history in their mud. From 2003 to 2012, archaeologists had the rare opportunity to dig through an urban river that had been pumped dry, and now 99% Invisible reports that their discoveries are available to browse online.

The new website, dubbed Below the Surface, was released with a book and a documentary of the same name. The project traces the efforts of an archaeological dig that worked parallel to the construction of Amsterdam's new North/South metro line. To bore the train tunnels, crews had to drain part of the River Amstel that runs through the city and dig up the area. Though the excavation wasn't originally intended as an archaeological project, the city used it as an opportunity to collect and preserve some of its history.

About 800 years ago, a trading port popped up at the mouth of the River Amstel and the waterway become a bustling urban hub. Many of the artifacts that have been uncovered are from that era, while some are more contemporary, and one piece dates back to 4300 BCE. All 700,000 objects, which include, toys, coins, and weapons, are cataloged online.

Visitors to the website can look through the collection by category. If you want to view items from the 1500s, for example, you can browse by time period. You also have the option to search by material, like stoneware, for example, and artifact type, like clothing.

After exploring the database, you can learn more about its history in the Below the Surface documentary on Vimeo (English subtitles are coming soon).

[h/t 99% Invisible]

The 10 Most Affordable Cities for Living Abroad

Picking up your life and moving abroad is expensive, but just how expensive depends on where you choose to make your new home. Mercer's latest Cost of Living Survey reported by Travel + Leisure lays out which cities around the world are most affordable for expats, and which are the priciest.

For the report, Mercer compared more than 375 cities across over 200 metrics including cost of food, coffee, clothing, housing, gas, and public transportation. If you want to live abroad, the cheapest city to move to is Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. It's followed by Tunis, Tunisia in second place and Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan in third.

The Cost of Living Survey also looked at the least affordable destinations for expats. Hong Kong is the most expensive, with Tokyo, Japan at No. 2 and Zurich, Switzerland ranking No. 3. Cities in Asia account for six of the top 10.

If you can afford it, there are plenty of reasons to spend time living outside your home country: Research has found that people who live abroad exhibit increased creativity, communication skills, and even earning potential. When planning your next long-term trip, consider these budget-friendly destinations.

1. Tashkent, Uzbekistan
2. Tunis, Tunisia
3. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
4. Banjul, The Gambia
5. Karachi, Pakistan
6. Blantyre, Malawi
7. Tbilisi, Georgia
8. Minsk, Belarus
9. Tegucigalpa, Honduras
10. Managua, Nicaragua

[h/t Travel + Leisure]


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