Author Chiara Montecchi is a Master’s student in the School of Public Service at DePaul University, in Chicago, Illinois. She is currently employed as a Fundraiser in DePaul’s Office of Advancement.
One common argument against infill: "but there isn't room for any more people!" (or, alternatively, "we can't have more people without turning into a skyscraper monoculture!"
Manhattan is far from a skyscraper monoculture- even in midtown there are lots of 2-6 story buildings of all types. And yet our housing density is 70,000 people per square mile- more than four times that of San Francisco, more than seven times that of Washington.
In other words, at Manhattan densities San Francisco could accommodate more than 3 million people.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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).