Phoenix, our sprawling sister in the desert, celebrated the opening of its first-ever light rail line on Saturday, an occasion marked with parties at stops along the 20-mile route. And do check out the stops: The 90s-style public art that was commissioned (think broken tile mosaics, text art, historical photos, and wrought-iron sculptures) is more than a little reminiscent of the artwork you'd find in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, their new "METRO" cost taxpayers $1.4 billion, which, interestingly, is what Shanghai's 20-mile maglev train cost (our own 14-mile gold line to Pasadena cost around $900 million). The at-grade line connects ASU, downtown, the convention center, the baseball stadium and the airport—an impressive feat for a single alignment. However, critics contend that the area's strong car culture will prevent Phoenicians from accepting light rail as a serious alternative to driving. Aesthetics-wise, Phoenix's futuristic-looking cars trump ours.--Dan Caroselli
The Phoenix photos are by Dave Seibert, Rob Schumacher and Tom Tingle with the Arizona Republic.