A NEW YORK TIMES, WASHINGTON POST, USA TODAY, AND PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BESTSELLER
“[A] diverse and enlightening book . . . The 99% Invisible City is altogether fresh and imaginative when it comes to thinking about urban spaces.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“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 Stiff, Grunt, and Gulp
“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 and Turtles All The Way Down
A beautifully designed guidebook to the unnoticed yet essential elements of our cities, from the creators of the wildly popular 99% Invisible podcast
Have you ever wondered what those bright, squiggly graffiti marks on the sidewalk mean?
Or stopped to consider why you don't see metal fire escapes on new buildings?
Or pondered the story behind those dancing inflatable figures in car dealerships?
99% Invisible is a big-ideas podcast about small-seeming things, revealing stories baked into the buildings we inhabit, the streets we drive, and the sidewalks we traverse. The show celebrates design and architecture in all of its functional glory and accidental absurdity, with intriguing tales of both designers and the people impacted by their designs.
Now, in The 99% Invisible City: A Field Guide to Hidden World of Everyday Design, host Roman Mars and coauthor Kurt Kohlstedt zoom in on the various elements that make our cities work, exploring the origins and other fascinating stories behind everything from power grids and fire escapes to drinking fountains and street signs. With deeply researched entries and beautiful line drawings throughout, The 99% Invisible City will captivate devoted fans of the show and anyone curious about design, urban environments, and the unsung marvels of the world around them.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Do those little stars on old brick buildings mean something? Where did the shiny, reflective bumps on roadsides come from, and why are they there? If you’ve ever wondered about the things we usually fail to notice, have we got a book for you. Roman Mars’ fascinating podcast 99% Invisible is about the everyday objects in architecture and design that we take for granted. Here, that endearingly nerdy interest is focused on cities. With endless curiosity and deadpan humor, Mars covers everything from the Victorian-era hand-painted billboards still visible in some older cities to why public restrooms in 21st-century Tokyo often have blue lights. Featuring interviews with historians and design experts, The 99% Invisible City explains why these things matter. It’s a fascinating look at the unknown—sometimes tragic, sometimes heroic—tales behind our modern landscape.