Blogs

Presidential heroes of urbanism

Since the weekend that just ended was Presidents' weekend, I thought now would be a good time to acknowledge some especially pro-urban Presidents.  I don't plan to focus on their actual policies (a complicated topic, and one not very relevant to most pre-New Deal presidencies) but on their post-White House personal lives.  The majority of Presidents have retired to resorts, estate-home suburbia, or (in the 18th and 19th century) country plantations.  

However, I would like to honor a few exceptions to this rule:

Dingbats and "Scarchitecture"

The Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design is in the throes of Kickstarting a book they're calling Dingbat 2.0. For those who don't know, the dingbat is a housing type that proliferated in the Western U.S. in the 50s and 60s, driven primarily by increased parking requirements. As you can see at right, the dingbat basically paves over the front lawn, thrusting the house or apartments up on stilts and creating a parking garage at ground level.

Steps vs. The Elderly

I am currently reading White Flight/Black Flight by Rachael Woldoff of West Virginia University.  The book discusses a neighborhood at the edge of a northern city (Philadelphia, I suspect) which was overwhelmingly Jewish as late as 1990, and became black in the 1990s.  One area of interest to new urbanists is its discussion of white "stayers" - elderly people who are not at all displeased with integration.  What drives them out is not crime or social disorder, but steps.

Some Cities Have More Children Than Their Suburbs

Today, I read a blog post by Joel Kotkin asserting, for the umpteeth time, that famlies with children prefer suburbs.  But at the bottom of the post is a chart comparing the child population (as a percentage of total population) for dozens of cities and their suburbs.

Looking at another Republican Governor's Transit Record

A few weeks ago I posted an entry on transit ridership under several Republican governors who might be running for President; since most governors are judged based on one or two high-profile decisions (e.g.

Toronto Gets Another Chance To Remove the Gardiner

Torontonians have been calling for the removal of the Frederick G. Gardiner Expressway for more than a decade. The effort, led by WATERFRONToronto, proposes tearing down the eastern portion of the expressway and building an eight-lane urban boulevard in its place. The effort has faced resistance from controversial Mayor Rob Ford and a handful of city council members, and the debate is destined to heat up again with the release of the environmental assessment (expected later today, and to be presented to the public tomorrow).

Review of Emily Talen's book online

My review of Emily Talen's book City Rules is now online.   To briefly summarize the book: in addition to explaining how land use and street design regulations promote sprawl, Talen shows how those regulations have become stricter over time.  In addition to addressing oft-discussed issues like single-use zoning, Talen discusses issues like curb radii (the measurement of the edge of a block).

Coexist

While walking around I occasionally see the "Coexist" bumper sticker, showing the symbols of various religions in order to suggest that it would be nice if they all coexisted peacefully.

Vision Zero in America's Most Walkable City

STREETS FOR PEOPLE ARE THE WAY TO CUT FATALITIES TO ZERO—BUT NYPD COMMISSIONER BRATTON DOESN'T AGREE

Originally posted on the Street Design Blog

STREETS FOR PEOPLE ARE THE WAY TO CUT FATALITIES TO ZERO—BUT NYPD COMMISSIONER BRATTON DOESN'T AGREE

Urbanism and the Oscars

I just finished watching all nine Best Picture nominees, and thought I would discuss what the front-runners should be from an urbanist perspective.  Which films occur in an urban or walkable environment?  Which films present such environments favorably (or at least not unfavorably)?