« Too Much Parking Downtown? Or Too Little? | Main | Corporate Welfare: Even Its Enemies Are For It »


Richmond K. Turner

Reston is "walkable", once you park your car in the town center's ginormous parking lot and work your way into the planned quasi-urban center that they built there. And it is a Potemkin village in a way, filled with manufactured urbanism and large chain stores. But it's still one heck of a lot nicer place to be on foot than Tyson's corner, where even a trip of less than 200 yards to get a sandwich requires one to get back into their automobile.

I'd rather not be in either place. I think I'll just stay in Squirrel Hill and enjoy my old urbanism.

Mark Stroup

I think old is the key word. Age gives a place stories. It gives a place a chance to "learn," to use Stewart Brand's meaning of the word. Give Reston time and people will figure out they need a liquor store for when they go on a bender, and a church for repenting afterwards. In such a case the market undoes certain parts of the planners' dreams. In the case of Tyson's corners, age has probably helped, but it's hard to unbuild a highway. As a matter of fact, has anyone ever unbuilt a highway?

New Urbanism will have arrived when four lane, limited access highways are converted into greenways and boulevards (think Allies, Ardmore, and Bigelow). That's a little what happens when a highway that allows cars to go seventy miles per hour winds up with a 20 mph car train. Essentially people get used to the fact. They buy cars with comfy seats, add a cupholder and talk more on their cellphone. So highways, cars, people, and petroleum are co-evolutionary but in a problematic way.

Jonathan Potts

Here's the problem I have with New Urbanism, the goals of which I tend to admire: It was was excessive planning that helped to destroy many of this nation's inner cities. (And, for that matter, single-use zoning that characterizes most suburban communities is a form of centralized planning. It just happens to apply to an entire community, and is done all at once, rather than a neighborhood at a time.) I'm not sure if the answer to our development problems is more top-down planning.

The comments to this entry are closed.