Meme Urbanism 101

They heard you like transit, so they put transit in your memes. (If you don't know what that means, read on.)

April 19, 2018, 5:00 AM PDT

By Elana Eden


Burning Man

Michel Piccaya / Shutterstock

Don't let anyone tell you urban planning is boring.

In Chicago Magazine, Zach Mortice explores the appeal of a popular Facebook group, New Urbanist Memes for Transit-Oriented TeensAfter a year, the group boasts more than 61,000 members—and only about a quarter of them actually work in transit, admins estimate.

The timbre of the group is one of "pop-culture meme snark crossed with niche graduate school Thought Leadership," Mortice explains. Many posts rely on Internet savviness, adapting existing memes to urbanist purposes. (Here's the one referenced in this story's summary.)

The group trends young—though not limited to teens; that's just another meme—with 40 percent of members in the 18-25 age range. It also trends left, wonky, and weird:

"There's a strong lefty bent to the group, imploring for public funds dedicated to transit, at a high cost to the rich…Posts complain about poor transit service and design and examine urban development policy, with a special focus on curios, oddballs, and weird juxtapositions."

For more examples and nerdy laughs, head to Chicago Mag. (Or, if you can stomach both "absurdist postmodern riffing" and calling trains "thicc," join the group itself.)

Thursday, March 29, 2018 in Chicago Magazine

Indian Trail, North Carolina

Four ‘Low-Hanging Fruit’ Zoning Reforms

An excerpt from the latest book on zoning argues for four approaches to reform that can immediately improve land use regulation in the United States.

June 26, 2022 - M. Nolan Gray

Car Traffic

San Francisco Just Ended Single-Family Zoning

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to Tuesday to eliminate single-family zoning, but pro-development advocates say additional changes are needed to unleash a wave of construction.

June 29, 2022 - San Francisco Chronicle

A Gold Line AnsaldoBreda P2550 train enters Mission Station in South Pasadena on February 25, 2012.

Land Banking to Prevent Transit-Oriented Displacement in Los Angeles

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) will implement a new land banking program to mitigate gentrification and displacement around future transit lines.

June 28, 2022 - Los Angeles Daily News

View looking down on construction of multiple buildings in San Francisco's Transbay Transit Center District

San Francisco to Reconsider Inclusionary Zoning as Development Slows to a Crawl

Critics of inclusionary zoning frequently point to San Francisco as an example of what not to do. A sluggish year of development has some local politicians ready to reconsider the city’s program.

July 4 - San Francisco Chronicle

110-10 Interchange

California Senate Committee Kills Freeway Expansion Bill

The proposed legislation would have prohibited new construction in historically underserved areas that often bear the burnt of the negative impacts of freeways.

July 4 - Streetsblog California

Person standing under sign that says "Moab Made" in downtown Moab, Utah.

Initiative Brings Capacity Building to Booming Rural Towns

A research and capacity building initiative based at Utah State University seeks to help fast-growing tourist meccas in the West plan for smart growth.

July 4 - High Country News

New Updates on The Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

International Real Estate Strategies and Deal Negotiation

Harvard Graduate School of Design Executive Education

Affordable Housing: Principles for Changing Domestic and Global Markets

Harvard Graduate School of Design Executive Education

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.