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August 6, 2020

After three decades, most polluted U.S. neighborhoods haven’t changed

Air pollution in San Francisco, CA.

If your neighborhood was among the most polluted in 1981, it probably still is. Likewise, the least polluted areas are still faring the best, according to a study published on Thursday in the journal Science that analyzed concentrations of fine particulate matter over more than three decades in the United States. Overall, pollution from fine…

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August 4, 2020

After two months of protests, Seattle activists say work not done

Black Lives Matter protest in Seattle, WA on June 6, 2020.

The mass protests against police brutality and for racial equity that have dominated Seattle and the nation for the past two months are like few others in American history — a sustained, daily movement, in major cities, sleepy suburbs and rural towns, with no central organizing hub, driven by social media and word-of-mouth. Locally, the…

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Big tech companies continue to expand in Seattle

Amazon Spheres from the Sixth Street side, Seattle.

As Congress investigates whether big tech companies are too big, Seattle continues to see fast growth as these companies expand. Currently, tech companies make up 20.2% of Washington state’s overall economy, according to a recent study by CompTIA. In Seattle, the overall footprint among companies like Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook is expanding. Amazon’s global headquarters is now…


August 3, 2020

Black pastors and activists want Central District land as reparations

New development at Yesler Terrace, March 2018.

In the midst of ongoing protests against police brutality and the death of George Floyd, Black communities in the Seattle area have begun a push for bigger, more long-term actions toward overcoming the poverty created by decades of racist policies. “We need reparations for our Black and brown communities,” said Pastor Angela Ying of Bethany…

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July 30, 2020

Searching for climate and inequity hot spots, by car

Children cool off at E.C. Hughes Park in Seattle, WA, July 2015.

Fifteen cars with blue snorkels jutting up from their passenger windows drove around King County on Monday, the hottest day the Seattle area has seen in 2020. Volunteer drivers crisscrossed roads from Shoreline to Enumclaw. Their odd window attachments were used to record temperature and humidity measurements every second. Shortly after sunrise, when the city’s…

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Cities’ summer challenge: Keep people cool while keeping COVID-19 at bay

The continuing heat wave in the United States in July 2011 broke temperature records in many locations, killed dozens and seen nearly half of all Americans under heat advisories at its peak.

In the age of social distancing and other efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19, cities are grappling with whether to encourage vulnerable populations to leave their homes during extreme heat and congregate under a communal air-conditioning system or stay home and hope that the summer heat doesn’t make them sick. “It’s a hard time…

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July 28, 2020

Gentrification and changing foodscapes in Seattle

Capitol Hill (Seattle) as seen from 9th Avenue and Pine Street looking east.

Seattle is the third most quickly gentrifying city in the US, after Washington, DC and Portland, OR (The Seattle Times [web]). Gentrification is often the outcome of decades of segregation, redlining, and urban renewal policies that exploit the large gap between existing and potential property values, which in turn encourages an influx of wealthier residents….

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As districts seek revenue due to pandemic, Black homeowners may feel the biggest hit

The Central District, a historically Black neighborhood in Seattle, WA.

New research bolsters the case that Black homeowners bear a disproportionate tax burden for underfunded public schools. Now those same homeowners are likely to see their property tax rates climb even higher due to the coronavirus pandemic’s economic devastation. That’s because cash-strapped school boards that oversee majority-Black school districts are expected to ask their residents…

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July 23, 2020

Seattle’s tarnished dream

View of downtown Seattle from the Space Needle, 2011.

In his 2017 State of the City address, then-mayor Ed Murray declared that “Seattle will shine a light and offer a different vision.” He promised a city where all four-year-olds attended preschool, where all high school graduates had access to free community college, and where strict labor standards guaranteed the lowliest worker a reasonable standard…

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July 21, 2020

Pioneering study uses traffic cameras and AI to predict future, promising to save lives and money

Skyline photo of Bellevue, WA.

In an effort to prevent deaths and injuries caused by crashes between vehicles, bikes and pedestrians, the city of Bellevue, Wash., set out more than five years ago to foresee the future. The idea was to use machine learning to analyze thousands of hours of video collected by 360-degree traffic cameras already installed citywide to…

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Urban@UW shares stories of urban research, teaching, and engagement by the University of Washington community through original publication and amplification of externally published articles, in order to bring visibility to the great work across the university. For communications inquiries, please email

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