In Part 2 of our Q&A, New York City transportation legend Sam Schwartz discusses technology’s role in the future of streets.

You can read Part 1 of our conversation with Sam Schwartz here. And you can hear us discuss Flexible Streets with Sam on City of the Future.

How do we build on some of the street design improvements we’ve seen during the pandemic?

So in cities, we have to begin to balance things. So right now, with the pandemic, we’re seeing city street space, which was totally for cars — either the storage or movement of cars, trucks, motor vehicles — can be used for sitting areas, for dining areas, for bikeways, for all sorts of other uses. Play…


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New York City transportation legend Sam Schwartz (center, wearing a Road Peace t-shirt), being interviewed by the City of the Future podcast team.

During his decades in government, “Gridlock Sam” survived the whims of changing administrations by harnessing the power of design and data.

In 1980, during a transit strike that led to cars overloading Manhattan’s street grid, Sam Schwartz — then an assistant commissioner at the Department of Transportation — devised something he called a “grid lock” prevention plan.

“I released it to the lexicon, and gridlock has been associated with me ever since,” says Schwartz, a local legend now popularly known as Gridlock Sam. “After I coined gridlock, I tried pedlock. Never caught on.”

Schwartz rose to become Traffic Commissioner from 1982–1986, then Chief Engineer until 1990. In 1995, he started his own consulting company, working with cities to create urban mobility…


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(Photo: Luis Davilla / Getty Images)

What if we could use design and technology to make our streets more flexible? So they could change use according to the season, the week — even the hour?

“City of the Future” is a podcast that explores ideas and innovations that could transform cities. In this episode, hosts Eric Jaffe and Vanessa Quirk talk about the potential of flexible, responsive streets with former New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Sam Schwartz, Aspen Director of Parking & Downtown Services Mitch Osur, and Coord Head of Policy & Partnerships Dawn Miller, as well as Sidewalk Labs Senior Creative Technologist Nick Jonas, Associate Director of Planning & Delivery Siqi Zhu, and Director of Mobility Willa Ng.

Subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts — Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, or search…


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With factory-based construction, architects can construct buildings by combining prefabricated parts like Lego pieces. (Image: Audrey Shtecinjo / Stocksy)

Thanks to innovations in design, materials, and machinery — and a green wave taking over the industry — factory-based construction could be an idea whose time has finally come.

“City of the Future” is a podcast that explores ideas and innovations that could transform cities. In this episode, hosts Eric Jaffe and Vanessa Quirk discuss how factory-based construction are changing the way cities are built with Northeastern University architecture professor Ivan Rupnik, architect and author Susan Jones, and Sidewalk Labs Director of Building Innovations Karim Khalifa and Associate Director of Building Innovations Lily Huang.

Subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts — Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, or search for “City of the Future” on your podcast player of choice.

Eric Jaffe: In 1967, Montreal hosted the greatest show on…


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In an era of remote work, people can live anywhere. Where will they choose to go? (Image: Guille Faingold / Stocksy)

Remote work could change not just the way we live in cities — but which cities we live in, too.

“City of the Future” is a podcast that explores ideas and innovations that could transform cities. In this episode, hosts Eric Jaffe and Vanessa Quirk discuss how remote work is changing cities and interview professor of urban economics Richard Florida, Estonia’s digital transformation adviser Anett Numa, Tulsa Remote community manager Taylor Allen, and Topia’s Chief Product Officer Sten Tamkivi and Director of Product Management Chantel Rowe.

Subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts — Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, or search for “City of the Future” on your podcast player of choice.

Taylor Allen: As a remote worker, you sometimes…


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Generative design is an emerging field that is empowering urban development teams to produce thousands of designs based on the goals and constraints of a building, neighborhood, or district. (Image: Delve by Sidewalk Labs)

Could machine learning help us find better designs for cities — even ones that we didn’t know were possible?

“City of the Future” is a podcast that explores ideas and innovations that could transform cities. In this episode, hosts Eric Jaffe and Vanessa Quirk discuss how generative design can help cities make better decisions for their communities with writer and historian Molly Wright Steenson, geographer and city planner Evan Lowry, and Sidewalk Labs’ Senior Product Manager Violet Whitney and Senior Design Lead Brian Ho.

Subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts — Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, or search for “City of the Future” on your podcast player of choice.

Eric Jaffe: In the late 19th and early 20th…


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The Empire State Building’s retrofit has helped to make it an energy-efficient building, drastically reducing its carbon emissions. (Image: Dorian Mongel / Unsplash)

If we’re serious about addressing climate change, we’ll need to address one of our biggest carbon emitters: buildings.

“City of the Future” is a podcast that explores ideas and innovations that could transform cities. In this episode, hosts Eric Jaffe and Vanessa Quirk discuss solutions to make buildings more energy-efficient with architect Wanda Dalla Costa, sustainable buildings expert Kimi Narita, PropTech expert Ryan J.S. Baxter, and Sidewalk Labs Senior Product Manager Rachel Steinberg and Data Scientist Jenny Chen.

Subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts — Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, or search for “City of the Future” on your podcast player of choice.

Wanda Dalla Costa: When I decided to retire my corporate career in architecture, I…


A group of people mill around a covered arcade. Four tall, stacked structures fill the space and act as kiosks.
A group of people mill around a covered arcade. Four tall, stacked structures fill the space and act as kiosks.
A series of deployable structures block wind and act as kiosks on a winter day. (Image: Emily Taylor / Sidewalk Labs)

Buildings could soon adapt to their environments — and even us, too.

“City of the Future” is a podcast that explores ideas and innovations that could transform cities. In this episode, hosts Eric Jaffe and Vanessa Quirk discuss the past, present, and future of responsive architecture with Sidewalk Labs’ director of public realm Jesse Shapins, engineer and microclimate expert Goncalo Pedro, Bubbletecture author Sharon Francis, and renowned architect Liz Diller of Diller Scofidio + Renfro.

Subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts — Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, or search for “City of the Future” on your podcast player of choice.

Eric Jaffe: Last March, our Toronto headquarters held a Winter Warmer


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(Image: Emily Taylor / Sidewalk Labs)

For the sake of our planet, we’ll need to “electrify everything” — including our homes.

“City of the Future” is a podcast that explores ideas and innovations that could transform cities. In this episode, hosts Eric Jaffe and Vanessa Quirk explore the future of electrification with Gretchen Bakke, author of The Grid: The Fraying Wires Between Americans and Our Energy Future, and Sidewalk Labs’ director of sustainability Charlotte Matthews. The following is an edited transcript of the episode.

Subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts — Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, or search for “City of the Future” on your podcast player of choice.

Vanessa Quirk: At the turn of the 20th century, life in…


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(Image: Emily Taylor / Sidewalk Labs)

This episode of our podcast explores a future where mobility is frictionless, easy — maybe even fun.

“City of the Future” is a podcast that explores ideas and innovations that could transform cities. In this episode, hosts Eric Jaffe and Vanessa Quirk discuss the future of mobility in cities. They speak to author Horace Dediu, Trimet’s Bibiana McHugh, MaaS Global CEO Sampo Hietanen, and Sidewalk Labs’ Associate Director for New Mobility Corinna Li. The following is an edited transcript of the episode.

Subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts — Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, or search for “City of the Future” on your podcast player of choice.

Vanessa Quirk: Hey Eric!

Eric Jaffe: Hi Vanessa.

Vanessa…

City of the Future

A podcast from Sidewalk Labs.

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