Andrew Stokols writes on global urbanization and international development with a focus on China and Asia. In China, he has worked as a Princeton-in-Asia Fellow at a rural development NGO and was a Fulbright Scholar studying urbanization in western China. His work has been featured in The Atlantic, The New York Times, and Foreign Policy. He is currently a Masters in Urban Planning candidate at Harvard GSD.
Cities
The First “Urban Pope”

The First “Urban Pope”

A Brazilian slum, or favela, and a cross. Pope Francis’s Encyclical addresses urban poverty and inequality as well as climate change. Photo by Chico Ferreira/Flickr Pope Francis is proving to be the first “environmentalist pope.” It turns out he also may be the first urbanist pope–not counting the aptly named Pope Urban of the 3rd Century....
Suburbia Goes Global: What It Means for Urban Sustainability

Suburbia Goes Global: What It Means for Urban Sustainability

  Red tile roofs, a backyard barbecue, a clubhouse in the style of a French chateau. Welcome to Orange County. No, not Orange County, California, the famed suburban region known for its beaches and McMansions. This is Orange County, Beijing. The resemblance to an American suburb is uncanny. Of course, the water peddler pulling a tricycle...
How China Can Leverage High-Speed Rail for Compact Urban Development

How China Can Leverage High-Speed Rail for Compact Urban Development

High speed rail connects Zhengzhou with other Chinese cities and has potential to spur compact urban development across the country. Photo by Andrew Stokols. Many large Chinese cities have developed around transport corridors. Hangzhou and Suzhou, for example, grew wealthy from their position on the Grand Canal, which connected northern and southern China. Today, the country’s...
China’s ‘dancing grannies’ vow to dance on

China’s ‘dancing grannies’ vow to dance on

  Walk through any public square or park in most Chinese cities and you’re likely to see—and probably hear—a colorful group of elderly residents dancing and singing to their favorite classical Chinese songs. The dancing grannies, as they are known, have become a permanent fixture of Chinese urban life. But they have also aroused the anger...
America just doesn't get airport rail

America just doesn’t get airport rail

Observing his experience at LaGuardia Airport, Donald Trump bemoaned that it’s like “a third world airport“. Now, putting aside the absurdity of  an avowed conservative who detests government projects in general complaining about the state of America’s infrastructure, he has a point. America’s airports and infrastructure are in terrible shape compared to the rest of...
Uber and the City

Uber and the City

 As Uber gains more control over transportation in cities, it will also inevitably gain more interests in the decisions cities make that affect public transportation It’s been a rough week for Uber. After a woman was reportedly raped by an Uber cab driver in New Delhi, India has advised all states to ban such web-based...
My Seoul Neighborhood: Yeonhui

My Seoul Neighborhood: Yeonhui

Strolling amongst quiet alleys and happening upon small boutique stores, organic groceries, and well-designed cafes…we must be in a city like New York, San Francisco, London. But Seoul? Yeonhui-dong, my neighborhood, is just such a place. It’s not exactly on the tourist map, but its not that out of the way—just a 10 minute walk...
Songdo style: How wise is Korea’s ‘smart city’?

Songdo style: How wise is Korea’s ‘smart city’?

“Songdo’s model may not be the panacea for all the world’s urban ills, but it remains a work in progress” Aug 26,2014   Left: Songdo’s new office towers and residential units rise behind Central Park, a green centerpiece of the 1,500-acre new city modeled after New York’s famous urban park. Above: Children admire deer in...
Hukou Reform and China's "City States"

Hukou Reform and China’s “City States”

Following my recent posts on China’s recently announced “reforms” to the hukou, or household registration system, I think its necessary to look at it in the context of urban population in China, a topic I’ve written about before here. According to the news conference held last week, China will loosen restrictions on rural residents obtaining legal...
Hukou Reform: a Modest Start

Hukou Reform: a Modest Start

Ok, it’s here, the moment we’ve all been waiting for: China’s hukou reform. Yes, the Chinese government is finally letting go of some of the much-discussed, much-criticized, yet still very-much-in-force remnant of Socialism that still defines Chinese life: the household registration system. Well..not so fast. Yesterday, the Chinese government announced with full official fanfare complete...
Exploring Korea's "Smart City"

Exploring Korea’s “Smart City”

After living in China, I thought I had become inured to the massive scale of urban development, glossy investment ads promoting developing zones and other schemes, and the general fever for anything modern, glassy, and futuristic. But Korea is home to an urban development scheme that outdoes even China in ambition and scope: the Songdo...
We don't need 6 Californias, we need better regions

We don’t need 6 Californias, we need better regions

With reports that a tech entrepreneur’s ballot initiative to split California into 6 separate states has gained enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, we need to set the parameters of what exactly is at stake. And, as a proud Californian, I feel particularly compelled to speak out against this plan. I know, it may...