As planners, I'm sure you've heard of the term "No Places": Those postwar suburban automobile-centered "new towns" that have sprung up along the edges of cities that have absolutely no soul whatsoever. Or they may be formerly quaint small towns that have mushroomed in population over the past 30 years, resulting in a no longer a discernable downtown. Instead the "downtown" is regulated to the collector roads and highway interchanges, where residents probably never stepped inside a building before 1950 (and are proud of it!)
Besides obvious places like Tyson's Corner, Virginia and Plano, Texas, please post your favorite "no place" in America. I'm sure you know of some soulless burg that completely lacks a traditional town center, and has more cul-de-sacs than trees. A noplace where corner stores and ma and pa hardware stores have been bulldozed into oblivion and replaced by Starbucks and Home Depot.
My candidate? Orland Park, Illinois, on the outskirts of Chicago. In 1950 this town had a population of on 788. Now its probably over 50,000. There is no downtown and the last of the old farmhouses were torn down in the late 1980s, replaced by subdivision after subdivision of cookie cutter, pop-and-fresh, jive plastic tract houses whose pretentiousness is exceeded only by the glaring absence of even the most fundamental aspects of good town planning. It is a classic example of "creeping crud" development: Haphazard mixes of big box stores, strip malls and "phony colonie" architecture all rubber stamped for approval by some brain-dead developer-shmoozing planning or zoning board. Traffic is an absolute nightma A snarled, teeth gnashing mess of overburdened one lane section roads clogged with SUVs, where the number of curb cuts is exceeded by only the number of potholes. Or 50' wide barren and treeless residential streets - with yuppiefied names like Sea Biscuit Court - where cars speed along at 40 M. P.H. or more
There is nothing worthwhile for kids to do in Orland Park, and as a result you can pretty much write them off by their 20s. The idealistic ones got out in time, but those left behind are doomed to live the pathetic life of their parents. (Subjecting any child to live in the intellectual decay and hopelessness of places like Orland Park - and parade it around as the "be all end all" of their morally bankrupt existence is one of the most heinous acts a parent can do to a child).
I could go on and on about how absolutely rotten Orland Park is, for there are few places in the world as detestable. In America, I know of no place that is closer to hell on earth. But maybe you've seen worse. So lets hear about all those "no places." Hopefully, we'll have some informative responses and have a detailed list compiled of places for good planners to avoid.