While not necessarily sexy, Curitiba has long garnered praise for being one of the world’s best models of urban planning, mainly due to the bold initiatives of its three-term mayor, Jaime Lerner, whose daring moves in the early 1970s transformed a six-block length of downtown into a pedestrian zone (done in secret under the cover of darkness), created five express-bus avenues with futuristic tubular boarding platforms, encouraged recycling and sustainable design long before it was fashionable, and planted trees and created parks on an enormous scale.

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