TIME Travel

These Are America’s Most Charming Cities

These cities are sure to captivate your heart and soul

To find the heart of New York City, you need the right shoes.

“I always seek out a city’s charms on foot,” says Rachel Rudman, co-creator of the travel series How 2 Travelers. In the Big Apple, she says, walking gives her the thrill of “moving through a sea of people who are drastically different from one another, yet all working to make a life in the city,” while in Charleston, “every main street, alleyway and market feels as though it holds centuries of stories.”

Travel+Leisure readers would agree, placing both New York City and Charleston in the top 10 of uniquely charming cities. In this year’s America’s Favorite Cities survey, readers voted on dozens of features that make 38 cities special, from museums to bakeries and flea markets. To highlight the most bewitching cities, we combined the rankings for interesting architecture, pedestrian-friendly streets, quaint bookstores, a sense of history and a friendly atmosphere—and nice wine bars didn’t hurt, either.

Several winners had one thing in common: old neighborhoods that have found new life, with cobblestone streets as well as cool shops and little cafes. Otherwise, in some winning cities, charm means easy access to public art, or food truck pods where locals gather around the fire pit with guitars. One cozy city even has a self-proclaimed “snuggery.”

With most the winners, too, those walkable streets are key—assuming you stray off the tourist grid. Barri Bronston, author of Walking New Orleans, advises Crescent City visitors to do Bourbon Street once—then move on. “Take the Bywater neighborhood,” she says, “with its houses painted in vibrant purples, oranges, and blues. Until I walked its streets, I had no idea how cool it really was. I’m a life-long resident of New Orleans, but I always feel like I’m discovering something new.”

  • No. 20 Baltimore

    20-baltimore
    Philip Scalia / Alamy

    The town that dubbed itself Charm City—granted, as a long-ago marketing strategy—clearly has planted its flag in the charming top 20. (That flag may be a freak flag, though: the locals also made the top 10 for being offbeat.) Baltimore also scored in the top 10 for historic appeal—like Fell’s Point, the waterfront community that that was once the nation’s second-largest immigration point, after Ellis Island. To experience the neighborhood to the fullest, stay at boutique hotel Admiral Fell Inn (once the home of the Seamen’s YMCA) and enjoy one the city’s highly ranked dive bars, The Horse You Came In On—which was likely a dive even when it first opened in 1775.

  • No. 19 Pittsburgh

    19-pittsburgh
    JP Diroll

    Pittsburgh’s most charming area does not ignore the Rust Belt’s industrial roots—instead, it embraces it. Just north of downtown, the Strip District was once the home of Andrew Carnegie’s first mills as well as the nerve center of the city’s produce markets. Today, it’s the home of the Pittsburgh Public Market, Pittsburgh Opera and the modern-dance Attack Theatre. The city also ranked at No. 6 for its pizza, like the classic Neapolitan at Il Pizzaiolo in Market Square and downtown’s Proper Brick Oven and Tap Room. Charming or not, the locals won the survey for being the most enthusiastic sports fans.

  • No. 18 Seattle

    18-seattle
    iStockphoto

    Even if it’s a first stop for many tourists, nothing exudes the charm of Seattle—and can make you feel like a flowers-and-fruit-buying local—quite like wandering the 9-acre Pike Place Market. But a block or so away from the market’s salmon-tossing workers, the charm factor compounds on Post Alley; the brick-paved detour features spots like The Pink Door, which serves candlelit Italian cuisine and quirky live shows like Eastern European jazz and trapeze acts. Seattle also came in at No. 2 for its coffee: one of the most relaxing places to enjoy it is at the café in the Elliott Bay Book Store, where you can also see why the charmingly rainy city ranked at No. 3 for its bookstores.

  • No. 17 Cleveland

    17-cleveland
    ThisIsCleveland.com / Cody York

    Forget the old jokes about this industrial town, which has elegantly cultivated its old-school charms. The nerve center of its appeal is in the Victorian-era Tremont neighborhood, once settled by immigrants and now home to Prosperity Social Club, a lounge set in a former ballroom, which has craft beer, Polka music and pierogies. To embrace the city’s civic pride, pick up a t-shirt that reads “Buck Yes” or “I Liked Cleveland Before It Was Cool” at downtown’s CLE Clothing.

  • No. 16 Atlanta

    16-atlanta
    Courtesy of Krog Street Market/Little Tart Bakeshop

    Readers love Atlanta for deftly walking the line between historic charm and buzz-worthy cool. You’ll find both at the Swan House in Buckhead’s Atlanta History Center: you can chat with costumed character guides at the 1920s mansion’s Open House tours—or, you can take its Capitol Tour, and see how the house was used in the film The Hunger Games. The Georgia hub also worked its way into readers’ hearts by way of their stomachs, ranking at No. 2 for Southern-comfort diners: At Buckhead’s old-style Highland Bakery, for instance, you can tuck into both sweet-potato pancakes and sweet-potato biscuits. Another heartwarming touch: at downtown’s Mary Mac’s Tea Room, the hostess still offers free back rubs at your table.

  • No. 15 Philadelphia

    15-philadelphia
    iStockphoto

    Quaint streets all over the U.S. don’t have much on Elfreth’s Alley, the tiny cobblestone road in Philly that boasts of being the oldest continuously lived-on street in the nation (you can tour the old homes once a year, on June’s Fete Day). Beyond that one street, though, the cradle of democracy gets high marks from readers for being both historic and pleasantly accessible—like the Society Hill and the Rittenhouse areas, offering gracefully restored lodgings like Rittenhouse 1715. Even some newer places can’t resist a little old-style appeal—like Random Tea Room in the Northern Liberties area, which features a Curiosity Shop of antiques alongside a 21st-century massage room.

  • No. 14 Albuquerque

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    Raymond Watt

    The New Mexico city made the top 10 for festivals, thanks to lovely parties like October’s International Balloon Fiesta. But this farm-friendly town also wooed readers with its literal cornucopia of edible delights: Casa Rondeña Winery, for instance, has wine-growing roots that go back to the 1600s. For down-to-earth lodging, stay at the 25-acre Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm, whose crops include lavender, casaba melons and endangered Chimaya chilies. The city also ranked near the top for being affably kooky, like Albuquerque Alpacas’ charming sweaters, socks and dyed yarns (as well as plenty of live, fleece-producing alpacas).

  • No. 13 Nashville

    13-nashville
    Courtesy of Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation

    Music City’s magnetism comes in part from its people: it ranked at the top of the survey for friendly locals. But its revamped older neighborhoods let this city of music-industry high rollers keeps its homey vibe. In the 12 South neighborhood, for instance, you can wander the bungalow-lined streets, browse in boutiques likeWhite’s Mercantile (offering such down-home delights as locally sourced grits and biscuit mix) or sit at coffeehouse-and-wine-barFrothy Monkey, where you can sip your Merlot from a quaint jelly jar. 12 South is also home to some of the city’s highly ranked barbecue: Edley’s Bar-B-Que, which smokes its brisket and ribs using local White Oak wood.

  • No. 12 Houston

    12-houston
    Courtesy of Sara's Inn

    The quaint factor in this giant business hub may not be immediately obvious, but voters still applauded the city on a variety of civilized features, from its top-ranked gourmet groceries, like Revival Market, to museums like the soothing Rothko Chapel. To get a sense of the city from earlier (and smaller) times, go to the Historic Heights neighborhood, which is filled with homes from the 1800s, some lovely inns (like the restored, Queen Anne-style Sara’s Inn on the Boulevard) and cheeky establishments like Mighty Sweet Mini Pies and Alice’s Tall Texan (where a 20-ounce Lone Star beer, served in a frosty goblet, goes for just $2.50). Indeed, the Texas city also ranked in the top 10 for both bakeries and brews.

  • No. 11 San Francisco

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    Stanislav Volik / Alamy

    The City by the Bay can be one giant photo op, with such iconic charmers as the Golden Gate Bridge, the cable cars, and Alamo Square’s Painted Ladies. But if you want to spend a charming afternoon alongside the gourmand locals, browse the stalls at the Ferry Building Marketplace and its Saturday farmers market, or, sit at Caffe Trieste with a classic cappuccino and see why, even before the thoughtfully-made pour-overs of Blue Bottle and Ritual Roasters, the city has always been a winner for its coffee culture. Despite its chilly summers, San Francisco also made the top 20 for weather—proof that rolling fog offers plenty of atmospheric charm.

    Read the full list here. This article originally appeared on Travel + Leisure

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TIME

Boston Mayor Threatens to Drop Olympics Bid Over Budget

at UMass Campus Center on March 22, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.
Paul Marotta—Getty Images Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh hosts a Municipal Strategies for Financial Empowerment, a public forum at UMass Campus Center on March 22, 2015 in Boston.

“I refuse to mortgage the future of the city away"

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh threatened Monday to drop the city’s bid for the 2024 Olympic Games if the U.S. Olympic Committee demands a guarantee that would require Boston taxpayers to cover budgetary shortfalls.

Walsh said that while he believes the Olympics could benefit the city, he vowed not to sign an agreement without knowing there are taxpayer protections in place, Boston.com reports.

“I refuse to mortgage the future of the city away,” Walsh said at a news conference. “I refuse to put Boston on the hook for overruns, and I refuse to commit to signing a guarantee that uses taxpayers’ dollars to pay for the Olympics.”

The host city contract with the U.S. Olympic Committee would require the city to agree to cover any financial shortfalls in building the massive infrastructure around the 2024 games. Massachusetts’ governor, Charlie Baker has also expressed skepticism of a bid that shifts the burden of paying for Olympics infrastructure too heavily on Boston taxpayers.

The USOC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

[Boston.com]

TIME cities

These 9 U.S. Cities Are Running Out of Water

These areas that have been under persistent, serious drought conditions over the first half of 2015

The nine cities with the worst drought conditions in the country are all located in California, which is now entering its fourth consecutive year of drought as demand for water is at an all-time high. The long-term drought has already had dire consequences for the state’s agriculture sector, municipal water systems, the environment, and all other water consumers.

Based on data provided by the U.S. Drought Monitor, a collaboration between academic and government organizations, 24/7 Wall St. identified nine large U.S. urban areas that have been under persistent, serious drought conditions over the first six months of this year. The Drought Monitor classifies drought by five levels of intensity: from D0, described as abnormally dry, to D4, described as exceptional drought. Last year, 100% of California was under at least severe drought conditions, or D2, for the first time since Drought Monitor began collecting data. It was also the first time that exceptional drought — the highest level — had been recorded in the state. This year, 100% of three urban areas in the state are in a state of exceptional drought. And 100% of all nine areas reviewed are in at least extreme drought, or D3.

Click here to see the 9 cities with the worst drought.

According to Brad Rippey, a meteorologist with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), California has a Mediterranean climate in which the vast majority of precipitation falls during the six month period from October through March. In fact, more than 80% of California’s rainfall is during the cold months. As a result, “it’s very difficult to get significant changes in the drought picture during the warm season,” Rippey said. He added that even when it rains during the summer, evaporation due to high temperatures largely offsets any accumulation.

A considerable portion of California’s environmental, agricultural, and municipal water needs depends on 161 reservoirs, which are typically replenished during the winter months. As of May 31, the state’s reservoirs added less than 6.5 million acre-feet of water over the winter, 78% of the typical recharge of about 8.2 million acre-feet. A single acre-foot contains more than 325,000 gallons of water. This was the fourth consecutive year that reservoir recharge failed to breach the historical average.

Normally, current reservoir levels are high enough to buffer against drought. However, “after four years of drought, reservoir holdings are perilously low,” said Rippey. Current total storage levels are at about 17.2 million acre-feet. The typical annual withdrawal is around 8 million acre-feet, which means total storage may fall below 10 million acre-feet by the end of the summer. This also means there is little room for error if the state enters a fifth year of drought.

In addition to surface water, groundwater is a major water source for the state, particularly during periods of drought. According to a recent U.C. Davis analysis of the California drought from 2012 through 2014, groundwater may replace as much as 75% of surface water lost to dry conditions this year. As Rippey explained, however, the problem is that the amount of groundwater is unknown. “The monitoring system for groundwater is not nearly as robust as the surface water monitoring system,” Rippey said.

City and state officials have reacted to the long-term drought by imposing various water restrictions. According to the California Department of Water Resources, California declared a statewide emergency during the 2007-2009 California drought — the first in U.S. history. California declared another such emergency during the 2012-2014 drought, and statewide precipitation was the driest three-year period on record. In an attempt to curb water use, statewide regulations impose penalties for exceeding water consumption budgets. Using water on lawns, for car washes, or to clean driveways is banned or restricted in each of the nine cities.

There are also economic consequences. The U.C. Davis study estimated a loss of at least 410,000 acres of farmland due to water shortages in California’s Central Valley, one of the nation’s most important agricultural zones and the location of most of the cities running out of water. An estimated $800 million was lost in farm revenue last year. That total does not include $447 million in extra pumping costs sustained by the Central Valley. Researchers at U.C. Davis estimated a total statewide revenue loss of $2.2 billion, and more than 17,000 jobs lost in 2014 due to drought.

The U.S. Drought Monitor is produced by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the USDA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 24/7 Wall St. identified the nine urban areas with populations of 75,000 or more where the highest percentages of the land area was in a state of exceptional drought in the first six months of 2015. All data are as of the week ending June 2.

These are the nine cities running out of water.

  • 9. Bakersfield, CA

    > Exceptional drought coverage (first half of 2015):72.8%
    > Extreme drought coverage (first half of 2015): 100%
    > Population: 523,994

    Over the first half of this year, nearly 73% of Bakersfield was in a state of exceptional drought, the ninth largest percentage compared with all large U.S. urban areas. The possible impacts of exceptional drought include widespread crop failures and reservoir and stream depletions, which can result in water emergencies. The drought in Bakersfield has improved somewhat from the same period last year, when nearly 90% of the area was in a state of exceptional drought — the highest in the nation at that time. Like many other areas in California, however, Bakersfield has suffered through more than four years of drought, and any improvement is likely negligible. The Isabella Reservoir on the Kern River is one of the larger reservoirs in the state with a capacity of 568,000 acre-feet. The reservoir has supplied water to Bakersfield since 1953. Today, Isabella’s water level is at less than 8% of its full capacity after falling dramatically each summer since 2011.

    ALSO READ: The Best and Worst States to Be Unemployed

  • 8. Sacramento, CA

    > Exceptional drought coverage (first half of 2015): 78.3%
    > Extreme drought coverage (first half of 2015): 100%
    > Population: 1,723,634

    Sacramento is the most populous city running out of water, with 1.72 million residents. The city is located just north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, a major source of water not just for Sacramento residents but for a great deal of California. The delta also helps provide water to millions of acres of California farmland. The Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers supply nearly 80 California reservoirs. With the ongoing drought, current storage levels are well below historical averages. On average over the first half of this year, exceptional drought covered more than 78% of Sacramento. The remaining area is far from drought-free, as 100% of Sacramento was in a state of extreme drought over that period — like every other city on this list.

  • 7. Chico, CA

    > Exceptional drought coverage (first half of 2015): 85.3%
    > Extreme drought coverage (first half of 2015): 100%
    > Population: 98,176

    Starting in June this year, new state legislation requires Chico residents to consume 32% less water than they did in 2013. Water bills now include water budgeting information and penalizes residents with higher fees based on how much consumption exceeds the recommended amount. The new rule may be a challenge for some residents, as Chico had among the highest per capita daily water consumption in the state in 2013, according to the ChicoER, a local news outlet. According to The Weather Channel, in April of this year a jet stream shift brought rain and snow to parts of Northern California where Chico is located, a welcome relief to the area’s long-running dry spell. Despite the short-term relief, Chico still suffers from drought — an average of more than 85% of the city was in a state of exceptional drought over the first half of this year.

  • 6. Lancaster-Palmdale, CA

    > Exceptional drought coverage (first half of 2015): 87.9%
    > Extreme drought coverage (first half of 2015): 100%
    > Population: 341,219

    Compared to the first half of last year, drought conditions in Lancaster-Palmdale are worse this year. Last year, nearly 80% of the city was in extreme drought and just 10% in exceptional drought. This year, 100% of the city was classified as being in a state of extreme drought and nearly 88% in exceptional drought. Many Lancaster-Palmdale residents, particularly those in the Palmdale Water District, receive their water from the district’s water wells, the Littlerock Dam, or — like many Californians — the California Aqueduct. The Colorado River Basin is also a major water source for the region, including Las Vegas to the northeast of Lancaster-Palmdale and Los Angeles to the southwest. Rippey explained that with only three or four wet years in over a decade, the Colorado River Basin region has endured a staggering near 15-year drought. The river, which used to flow into the ocean, now ends in Mexico. Like every other city suffering the most from drought, Lancaster-Palmdale residents are subject to various water restrictions.

  • 5. Yuba City, CA

    > Exceptional drought coverage (first half of 2015): 95.4%
    > Extreme drought coverage (first half of 2015): 100%
    > Population: 116,719

    Yuba City is located on the Feather River, which runs south through Sacramento. The river begins at Lake Oroville, the site of the Oroville Dam and the source of the California Aqueduct — also known as the State Water Project (SWP). The dam’s water levels reached a record low in November 2014. While water levels have increased considerably since then, they remain at a fraction of the reservoir’s capacity. More than 95% of Yuba City was in a state of exceptional drought over the first six months of the year, making it one of only five urban areas to have exceptional drought covering more than 90% of their land area. Like other areas suffering the most from drought, the proportion of Yuba’s workforce employed in agricultural jobs is several times greater than the national proportion. The drought has had considerable economic consequences in the region. Agricultural employment dropped 30.3% from 2012 through 2013, versus the nearly 2% nationwide growth.

    ALSO READ: The Poorest Town in Each State

    For the rest of the list, please go to 24/7WallStreet.com

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TIME Food & Drink

This Is Every City’s Favorite Food, as Told by Instagram Hashtags

New York loves sushi more than any city in Japan, but London is the burger capital of the world

Other than selfies and cute cat photos, photo-sharing app Instagram is known for pictures of one other thing: food.

But photoworld.com decided to dig a little deeper and find out which cities like what kind of food, through an interactive project called “The Food Capitals of Instagram.” The project features a series of maps, taking 18 popular dishes from various countries to see — through hashtag numbers — which city shows them the most love.

New York City loves bacon the most, contributing nearly 8% of all bacon photos on the social network.

Photoworld.com

It also loves the quintessential Caribbean dish jerk chicken more than the Jamaican capital city of Kingston, and (along with three other cities) loves sushi more than anywhere in the Japanese delicacy’s country of origin.

It also has more pizza lovers than Italy.

There are other surprises, however, such as the fact that (based on Instagram at least) London is the burger capital of the world:

Photoworld.com

As for macarons, the delectable French pastries that are a favorite dessert of many — they’re most popular in Thailand’s capital city Bangkok followed by South Korean capital Seoul (the two cities account for 15% of all tagged macaron photos):

Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 12.45.31 PM

Canada, however, can take heart from (or be offended by) the fact that its signature potato-based dish poutine remains very much its own:

Photoworld.com

Check out the full interactive here.

TIME Crime

San Francisco Cop Defends Release of Undocumented Immigrant in Shooting Case

San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi fields questions during a news conference in San Francisco on July 10, 2015, in San Francisco. Mirkarimi provided information regarding the April 2015 release of Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, who is now accused in the shooting death of a woman at a popular tourist site. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
Tony Avelar—AP San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi fields questions during a news conference in San Francisco on July 10, 2015.

Local sheriff decries “finger-pointing” and “distortion” after deadly shooting

A top San Francisco cop denied Friday that his department had been negligent in releasing an undocumented immigrant who was later charged in a deadly shooting.

At issue is the fatal July 1 pier shooting of 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle. Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, an undocumented immigrant with numerous drug felonies on his record, has been charged with the crime. Revelations that federal authorities had planned to deport Lopez-Sanchez before San Francisco authorities released him have brought scrutiny to the city’s status as a so-called “sanctuary city” that doesn’t comply with federal orders to hold immigration violators.

San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi said Friday that local law allows him to turn suspects over to federal investigators only when there are active warrants out for the suspect’s arrest, the local NBC affiliate reports. Speaking at a news conference, he said there has been “finger-pointing” and “distortion” since the incident. And decrying that the shooting has become an issue in the 2016 presidential campaign, he called it “incredibly sad … that this tragedy is being used as a platform for political gain.”

Steinle was struck in the head by gunfire as she walked along Pier 14 in San Francisco, in the company her father and a friend.

 

TIME Crime

Homicide Rate Spikes in Major American Cities

Chicago Police Murder
Anthony Souffle—Chicago Tribune/TNS/Sipa A police officer rests his hand on his forehead at the scene where a 23-year old man was shot in the early morning hours of July 6, 2015 in Chicago.

Baltimore, Milwaukee, New Orleans and St. Louis have been especially hard-hit

After years of declining homicide rates, 2015 has been a dark year in several large American cities, with incidents as much as doubling in some areas.

Milwaukee has seen twice as many murders this year as it did in the first half of 2014, according to USA Today. Baltimore, New Orleans and St. Louis saw spikes of 33% or more, and cities like Chicago, Dallas, Houston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. have also seen increases.

It may be too soon to say whether this is a trend or an anomaly —i ndeed, several major cities have seen decreases in homicide rates, including Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Phoenix and San Diego. While some experts say the numbers reflect a struggle on the part of law enforcement to fund the necessary programs to keep decreasing the homicide rate, others say the numbers may even out as the year progresses.

[USA Today]

TIME Crime

7-Year-Old Chicago Boy Among 7 Killed in Bloody Weekend

"We must stem the flow of guns into the city," the city's police chief said

At least 40 people were wounded and seven were killed in Chicago over the weekend, including a seven-year-old boy, leaving police and residents angry over the ongoing violence in the Windy City.

“We need some help here, folks,” Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said Sunday, CNN reports. “We have to fix this broken system.”

Among the seven people slain was Amari Brown, a seven-year-old boy killed by a bullet intended for his father. Police said his father was a ranking gang member who had been arrested 45 times and has a long criminal record.

Chicago police have recovered one illegal gun per hour across the city since Friday morning.

“We must stem the flow of guns into the city,” McCarthy said.

[CNN]

TIME cities

Protestors Throw a Confederate Flag on the Grill in New Orleans

Demonstrators used the 2015 Essence Festival taking place in the city to draw attention to a movement

Just blocks from the 2015 Essence Festival, where civil rights leaders are gathering to discuss what’s next in the Black Lives Matter movement, a crowd of a nearly 100 protesters stood in the unrelenting New Orleans heat Saturday to demand action around a subject that’s been gaining steam in the wake of the Charleston church massacre.

Demonstrators burned a confederate battle flag in a charcoal grill beneath a towering statue honoring confederate general Robert E. Lee. The statue and other monuments to Confederate leaders that pepper the city, they demanded, must come down. “Down, down with the racist monuments. Up, up with the people’s empowerment,” the crowd chanted in unison.

At the base of Lee’s figure, which stands atop a 60ft column in a sprawling and immaculately kept circle also named after the general, two organizers of the protests ripped and burned a confederate battle flag that was purchased from the Confederate Memorial Museum, located just steps away.

The flag, according to an organizer who identified himself only as Quess, cost $22. As the flag crackled in the charcoal grill, local trumpeter Mario Abney performed a jazzy melody and the crowd jeered and hooted. It was a far cry from Fourth of July barbecues taking place elsewhere in the United States.

The national campaign to drive symbols of the confederacy out of the American mainstream was lent a sense of urgency by the shooting of nine black Americans in Charleston, South Carolina in June. The alleged shooter, Dylann Roof, posed with a confederate battle flag in images posted online alongside a racist screed.

In the wake of the massacre, the South Carolina legislature moved to remove the flag from outside its statehouse — a previously unthinkable act in a state where support for the flag as a symbol of Southern heritage still rides high.

It was a bitter-tasting victory for a decades-long movement that had been gaining traction even before the shootings. Activists in New Orleans have won a series of concessions over the years — the moving of a monument commemorating a bloody battle that many black residents felt glorified white supremacy; the removal of the names of confederacy figures from a handful of schools. And last week, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said he wanted to rename Lee Circle and remove the statue. The change will likely coincide with the city’s tri-centennial celebration in 2018.

But the protestors at Saturday’s march and rally don’t want to wait that long. “We don’t need any more dialogue, we need demolition,” said Rev. Marie Ortiz, a veteran activist in the New Orleans area. Earlier, Ortiz told the crowd she’d been pushing for the removal of confederate symbols since her early 30s. She wants a figure of New Orleans Civil Rights leader Rev. Avery Alexander to replace Lee.

“If his words were sincere and he meant it, it doesn’t matter when he takes it down. Now is the time to do it,” the 75-year-old said.

Ortiz was among those who marched from New Orleans’ Canal Street Ferry Station to Lee Circle Saturday. The group trekked down New Orleans’ Convention Center Boulevard just past noon, occupying the same sidewalks and streets as cheerful tourists in town for the 21st annual Essence Festival. Many stopped to take pictures and chant along in solidarity.

The group later veered onto Magazine Street, which houses the National World War II Museum, weaving in and out of clusters of confused tourists. Once they reached the statue, the protestors sang, chanted, and signed a petition calling for the immediate removal of Lee’s statue and others found throughout the Big Easy, including a statue of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States.

“There are monuments like these all over the city and these symbols create the environment for police brutality and oppression,” said Quess, the organizer who led the flag-burning. “Black lives really don’t matter if there are all of these monuments to our former oppressors.”

TIME cities

New York City Just Froze Rent on One-Year Leases for the First Time Ever

Move comes after report shows renters struggling while landlord incomes grow

For the first time in its 46-year history, New York City’s Rent Guidelines Board voted on June 29 to freeze rent on one-year leases and to limit two-year lease increases to a comparatively low 2%. The freeze applies to leases on rent-stabilized apartments beginning in October.

The vote came after the board, which regulates rent for more than 1 million such apartments, released a report in April showing that while landlords’ incomes have grown for nine consecutive years, renters in stabilized housing have experienced both unchanged income and rising housing costs, the New York Times reports.

However, Joseph Strasburg, president of the Rent Stabilization Association, an organization for landlords, said the outcome is ultimately negative and that “landlords will now have to forgo repairing, maintaining and preserving their apartments, which will trigger the deterioration of quality, affordable housing.”

A 2014 housing survey conducted by the city showed that the median rent-to-income ratio was nearly 34% and that a third of rental households paid more than half of their income in rent.

New York’s move comes as San Francisco grapples with imposing a construction moratorium in its Mission neighborhood to give the city a chance to purchase property for affordable housing. New York placed third behind San Francisco and Atlanta in speed of rising rents for 2014, and the city has periodically fielded calls for stricter rent control during this decade’s tech boom.

[NYT]

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