Fans of the podcast 99% Invisible are in for a special treat. Released ten years after Roman Mars first enchanted the podcasting world, this book is an illustrated compendium of the fascinating tidbits he's gathered about the seemingly mundane. Focusing on what makes a city tick, Mars does what he does best, chronicling stories about the hidden design behind everyday objects citywide. Here you'll learn the evolution and humble origins of the water fountain, the purpose and consequence of hostile architecture, the reason Syracuse has the nation's one and only upside-down traffic signal, why some homeowners paint their dying lawns green, how guerilla gardening subverts authority, and why staircases that lead nowhere are named after a former baseball player.— Joe Michon-Huneau
KURT KOHLSTEDT is the digital director and producer of 99% Invisible. Before joining the show, he founded a series of successful online magazines on cities and design, starting with WebUrbanist in 2007. He holds a graduate degree in architecture from the University of Washington’s College of Built Environments.
“Here is a field guide, a boon, a bible, for the urban curious. Your city’s secret anatomy laid bare—a hundred things you look at but don’t see, see but don’t know. Each entry is a compact, surprising story, a thought piece, an invitation to marvel. Together, they are almost transformative. To know why things are as they are adds a satisfying richness to daily existence. This book is terrific, just terrific.” —Mary Roach, New York Times bestselling author of Gulp, Stiff, and Grunt “The 99% Invisible City brings into view the fascinating but often unnoticed worlds we walk and drive through every day, and to read it is to feel newly alive and aware of your place in the world. This book made me laugh, and it made me cry, and it reminded me to always read the plaque.” —John Green, New York Times bestselling author of The Fault In Our Stars “We usually define cities in terms of their bigness, so it’s easy to forget that our daily experience of any city is made up of countless tiny, intimate encounters. Just as Jane Jacobs did fifty years ago, Roman Mars and Kurt Kohlstedt provide a new way of seeing urban life, finding secrets and surprises behind every sewer grate, storefront, and street sign.” —Michael Bierut, design critic and author of How to Use Graphic Design to Sell Things, Explain Things, Make Things Look Better, Make People Laugh, Make People Cry, and (Every Once in a While) Change the World “[The 99% INVISIBLE CITY] celebrates the functional, serendipitous, and often beautiful ways that humans have shaped their surroundings.” — Ari Shapiro, National Public Radio “The 99% Invisible City is not a book, but a pair of magic glasses that transform the mundane city around you into a vibrant museum of human ingenuity.” —Justin McElroy, podcaster and New York Times bestselling author “The ideal companion for city buffs, who’ll come away seeing the streets in an entirely different light.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review “Conversational, bite-size entries [and] beautiful tricolor illustrations . . . A field guide for anywhere.” —Booklist —