The 99% Invisible City: A Field Guide to the Hidden World of Everyday Design

This beautifully designed and illustrated book by 99pi host Roman Mars and producer Kurt Kohlstedt will show you new sides to all kinds of seemingly ordinary designs all around you. You can order your copy today on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop or Indiebound (internationally: the UK, Canada and Australia). The audiobook version read by Roman Mars is also available on Audible and

Have you ever wondered …

  • what those bright, squiggly graffiti marks on the sidewalk mean?
  • why you don’t see metal fire escapes on new buildings?
  • how car dealerships became home to those dancing inflatable figures?
Chicago River at night from Chapter 3, illustration by Patrick Vale

99% Invisible is a big-ideas podcast and website about small-seeming things, revealing stories baked into the buildings we inhabit, the streets we drive on, and sidewalks we traverse. The show celebrates design and architecture in all of its functional glory and accidental absurdity, with tales of exceptional designers but also everyday designs.

Now, in The 99% Invisible City: A Field Guide to the Hidden World of Everyday Design, show host Roman Mars and producer Kurt Kohlstedt zoom in on the key details about how 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 beautiful line drawings throughout by artist Patrick Vale, this 400-page volume will captivate devoted fans of the show and anyone curious about design processes, urban environments, and the unsung marvels of the world around them. Check out our book page for more!

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