MLewyn's blog

Nonsense About The City

As I was reviewing the Planetizen web page, I noticed a bizarre headline: "Are Cities Driving Us Crazy?" I then clicked the link, finding a story in Nature magazine: "Stress and the City".  The article suggests that the stress of city life is a "breeding ground for psychosis."

And the evidence for this is, um, um... well, nothing.

The (Not Quite So) Suburban Jewish Holiday

I have written about the uneasy relationship between Judaism and suburbanization: low density makes it difficult for Jews to live within walking distance of synagogues and generally makes it difficult to create a cohesive community.   

Compact Cities Have Fewer Car Deaths

When traffic engineers widen roads and build new roads, they often cite "safety" as an argument.  Under this theory, the widest, straightest, fastest roads are the safest.  If this were true, car-oriented cities dominated by such roads would be safer than more compact, transit-oriented cities.  Right?  Wrong.

Conservatives, Liberals and Urbanists

After reading all manner of political posts on Facebook and various listservs, it occurs to me that conservatives and liberals are more alike than they think. Both groups are driven in part by an emotional fear of concentrated power - sometimes sensible, sometimes not.  Conservatives fear being oppressed or cheated by overwhelming, distant political power- for example, the federal government or the United Nations. Liberals and environmentalists fear concentrated corporate power- for example, Wal-Mart.  

Children Have More Freedom In The City

Two phrases you might hear from parents who live in sprawl:

1.  "We moved so our kids could play on the lawn."

2.  "We can't let the kids go outside because there are molesters/crazy drivers everywhere."

I don't see how both these propositions can be true.  If you can't let your children play on the lawn, what's the point in having one?  And as a practical matter, I think #1 is outdated because (in my limited experience with nieces) the children would really rather be inside playing video games anyhow.

Getting Multifamily Right in Forest Hills Gardens

I was walking through Forest Hills Gardens today, and noticed yet another way in which Forest Hills Gardens is superior to a typical steetcar suburb.  In most neighborhoods that have a variety of housing types, smaller residences are quite visibly different from bigger ones, thus maing the smaller houses look out of place.

a nice middle ground

I was reading a book ("A Modern Arcadia" by Susan Klaus) about Forest Hills Gardens (a neighborhood in Queens a few blocks south of my current apartment in northern Forest Hills, designed in the 1910s by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr) and noticed one thing I'd never noticed before: that it creates an interesting middle ground between the curvilinear streets typical of even 1920s suburbs and the urban grid.  North-south streets such as Ascan and Continental Avenues create the bones of a grid, whi

Good news and bad news about Carmel

The most recent "Better! Cities and Towns" has a glowing profile of Carmel, Indiana, an Indianapolis suburb that has rebuilt its downtown.

CNU CITY SPOTLIGHT: Pedestrian Plaza in Jackson Heights, Queens


This post is part of a new series on the CNU Salons, CITY SPOTLIGHT. City Spotlight shines a light on the latest news, developments and initiatives occurring in cities and towns where CNU members live and work.

Who Should Really Favor "Burning Down The Suburbs"?

National Review's website contains an article accusing President Obama of "Burning Down the Suburbs."  The article's basic claim is in the first paragraph: "Obama is a longtime supporter of “regionalism,” the idea that the suburbs should be folded into the cities, merging schools, housing, transportation, and above all taxation."'