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The Secret Apartment at the Top of the Eiffel Tower

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When Gustave Eiffel designed the Eiffel Tower, he created a sky-high landmark for the public—and for himself, he included a secret apartment.

According to Atlas Obscura, the tiny apartment was perched 1000 feet in the air, providing Eiffel with a bird’s-eye view of 1890s-era Paris. He furnished the lofty abode with wallpaper, cabinets, furniture, oil paintings, and a grand piano. There was also a small adjacent room with laboratory equipment, which allowed Eiffel to conduct meteorological observations, The Independent writes.

While many elite members of the public clamored to rent the space, Eiffel shunned their exorbitant offers. Instead, he used it to greet illustrious guests like Thomas Edison (who gave him a phonograph machine as a gift), or as a quiet space for solitary reflection.

Author Jill Jonnes provides a great visual image of what an evening was like in Eiffel’s private apartment in her 2010 book Eiffel’s Tower: The Thrilling Story Behind Paris’s Beloved Monument and the Extraordinary World's Fair That Introduced It. She describes one evening that Edison and other luminaries spent in Eiffel’s aerie:

The guests settled in on the dark velvet settees trimmed in fringe. The walls, a warm yellow, were already covered with framed artistic mementos: photographs, drawings, paintings. “Eiffel has a piano there,” said Edison. “Gounoud, the composer of ‘Faust,’ played and sang, and he did it splendidly, too, despite his more than eighty years.” High above Paris, Gounoud’s music wafted forth as the guests smoked cigars, drank brandy, talked, and even sang, a magical late-summer interlude. Working quietly in the background was American artist A.A. Anderson, best known for his oil portraits, but invited by Eiffel to try to capture Edison’s likeness as best he could in a sculpted bust that would commemorate this occasion of genius honoring genius.

The apartment was closed to the public for years, but in May 2015, Condé Nast Traveler announced that it would open to visitors. You can’t stay overnight, but you can peer into the space—which contains its original furnishings, along with life-size mannequins of Eiffel and Edison—and admire the private hideaway of the famous French civil engineer and architect.

Check out some photos below:

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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MegaSecur, YouTube
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Design
The Self-Deploying Flood Barrier That Could Keep Cities Dry Without Sandbags
MegaSecur, YouTube
MegaSecur, YouTube

For many places in the world, the future is going to be wet. Climate change is already intensifying heavy rains and flooding in parts of the U.S., and it’s only expected to get worse. A recent study estimated that by 2050, more than 60 million people in the U.S. would be vulnerable to 100-year floods.

Some cities plan to meet rising waters with protective parkland, while some architects are developing floating houses. And one company has figured out how to replace piles of sandbags as emergency flood control, as Business Insider reports. Water-Gate, a line of flood protection products made by a Canadian company called MegaSecur, is a self-deploying water barrier that can be used to stop overflowing water in its tracks.

The emergency dam is made of folded canvas that, when water rushes into it, inflates up to become a kind of pocket for the water to get trapped in. You can roll it out across a street, a canal, or a creek like a giant hose, then wait for the water to arrive. In the event of a flash flood, you can even deploy it while the flood is already in progress. It can stop waters that rise up to five feet.

According to MegaSecur, one Water-Gate dam can replace thousands of sandbags, and once the floodwaters have receded, you can fold it back up and use it again. Sadly, based on the flood projections of climate change scientists, heavy flooding will soon become more and more common, and that will make reusable flood barriers necessary, saving time and money that would otherwise be spent buying, stacking, and getting rid of sandbags. The auto-deployment also means that it can be used by a single person, rather than a team of laborers. It could just as easily be set up outside a house by a homeowner as it could be set up on a city street by an emergency worker.

As climate change-related proposals go, it sounds a little more feasible than a floating house.

[h/t Business Insider]

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Coord
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technology
Could Color-Coded Maps Be the Answer to City Parking Problems?
Coord
Coord

Driving in a city isn't as simple as traveling from Point A to Point B. For many motorists, it's interpreting the parking signs, scoping out curb space, and avoiding tickets once they've already reached their destination that are the challenges. A new website aims to make the urban parking process a little easier to navigate: As City Lab reports, the new Curb Explorer tool from Coord uses a handy color-coded system to map out which San Francisco curbs are fair game for drivers and which are off limits.

You can navigate Coord's San Francisco street map like you would any other digital map. But instead of just a starting point and destination, Coord asks for more information about your parking needs, such as the day and time you plan to be arriving, the type of vehicle you're driving, and its uses. Based on those variables, the map highlights curbs in different colors that signify their parking availability. Red means no parking allowed, light blue indicates free parking, and dark blue means paid parking. Whether you're looking to park some place all day or for just a few minutes, you can input that information in the system and the map will update itself accordingly.

The new tool isn't just for private car owners: It's also for the employees of ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft, who received over 75 percent of the lane-obstruction tickets issued by San Francisco police between April and June of 2017. Since November 2017, the city has rolled out dedicated pick-up and drop-off zones for such vehicles and now Coord makes it easy for drivers to find them.

Coord has a map for only one city at the moment, and even drivers in San Francisco may find it difficult to use. It's not an app; rather, it's a website that can be accessed through mobile, and the focus is just on parking rules rather than finding you a space. But if the technology is successful it may eventually work its way into other cities and even into established navigation apps.

Color-coded city map.
Coord

Color-coded city map.
Coord

[h/t City Lab]

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