11/20/2020

Roman Mars Explores The Hidden Stories In Your City

16:42 minutes

On a walk through your city or town, there are all sorts of sights and sounds to take in—big buildings, parks and patches of green space, roaring vehicles, and people strolling around. But according to Roman Mars, host of the 99% Invisible podcast, you need to look at the smaller, often unseen details to decode what’s really going on in the city. 

In the new book The 99% Invisible City: A Field Guide to the Hidden World of Everyday Design, co-authors Mars and Kurt Kohlstedt show that you can learn a lot about the place you live in by taking a closer look at tucked-away architecture and pavement markings. There’s meaning behind the etchings on the covers of maintenance holes and water lines, and the cryptic spray painted symbols on the street that signify network and telecommunication cables. These signs and structures can tell stories about a city’s past and present. Ira chats with Mars about the overlooked details built into our cities and how our urban environments are adapting to the pandemic.


Further Reading

  • Read the new book, The 99% Invisible City: A Field Guide to the Hidden World of Everyday Design.
  • Listen to episodes and read stories on 99% Invisible.
  • Learn more about hidden infrastructures and spotting telecom lines in New York City in Ingrid Burrington’s Seeing Networks project and illustrated guide.

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Segment Guests

Roman Mars

Roman Mars is host of the 99% Invisible podcast and co-author of The 99 Percent Invisible City: A Field Guide to the Hidden World of Everyday Design (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020). He’s based in East Bay, California.

Segment Transcript

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About Alexa Lim

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Diana Montano is the Events Producer at Science Friday, where she crafts live events to delight and engage audiences in the world of science.

About Ira Flatow

Ira Flatow is the host and executive producer of Science FridayHis green thumb has revived many an office plant at death’s door.

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