The Most Innovative Cities in the World

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Medellín’s New Cable Cars Unify a Fractured City

Medellín is nestled in a valley high in the Andes, and many of the city’s poorest residents live in comunas they built on the steep slopes. During the ’90s, drug gangs and guerrilla fighters controlled the narrow streets. As the violence waned and people started venturing out, they came up against another challenge: It was really hard to get anywhere.

Bacaan Lainnya

To knit together the fractured city, then-mayor Luis Pérez proposed a novel solution: cable cars. Rather than having to pick their way down perilous hillsides, people could hop in a gondola and soar to a metro station. The first Metrocable line opened in 2004 and was quickly followed by others.

“The genius of the Metrocable is that it actually serves the poor and integrates them into the city, gives them access to jobs and other opportunities,” says Julio Dávila, a Colombian urban planner at University College London. “Nobody had ever done that before.” As people of all classes started using the cars to visit “bad” neighborhoods, they became invested in their city’s fate, heralding a decade of some of the world’s most innovative urban planning. —Lizzie Wade

Combining Libraries and Parks into Safe Spaces for All


Exterior design of the Biblioteca Espana.