A guy once told me, "Do not have any attachments, do not have anything in your life you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you spot the heat around the corner."
Neil McCauley (Robert DeNiro): Heat 1995
i want to know from anyone but heartland, if jane jacobs is rolling over in her grave...
With the prodding of the moderator, let's get back to the original thought inspiring the thread. I'll provide some regionally-appropriate ideas that have nothing to do with barcelona, greece, rome, or jane jacobs, but which I do find interesting.
I managed to find an article written by an esteemed cyburbian, Lee Nellis, who seems to have gone underground, that made me think. The jist of his argument is this:
In the Intermountain West, where I live and work, there are two prominent myths competing for people's attention. The first is the myth of the individual. Its the obvious one for the West- some cowboy or sheriff or whatever on his own. Gettin' it done. The second myth is just as important but not as prominent- the myth of the giant public works figure. The army corps of engineers, or the bureau of reclamation. Building dams, highways, and so on. The Howard Roark figure, you could probably say. Both myths figure prominently in historical development of the West and continue to play out today in countless ads in countless regional magazines.
Lee's point is that, if planners and community builders are truly going to get things done in the rocky mountain west, we're going to have to articulate another myth. One that's just as important in the historical development of the region but just not as shiny as the first two. Poorly worded, its the myth of the collaborative process. The myth of the groups of people that put differences aside, rolled up their sleeves, and got things done. There are a number of these partnerships out there right now- we've got a few stories ourselves in the part of Montana I live in (The Madison Valley Ranchlands Group is a fantastic example) - and these stories need to be celebrated. That's tough for a media that is slapped in the face with stories of conflict regularly in fast-growing places. But crucial.
Anyway, I know a lot of people aren't from my neck of the woods and might not appreciate the ridiculous mythical power the West holds over the baby-boom generation, new retirees, and ski bums. But HTC has raised a valid question and I figured I'd give some regional thoughts.
Last edited by bud; 12 Mar 2007 at 11:08 AM. Reason: grammar
- The desire for open space cannot by itself be solved by parks--especially not 1-2 large parks and a bunch of pocket parks. People like to see green everywhere, they like to have a natural view out their window, and they like to have PRIVATE and very NEARBY space for their kids to play and for them to entertain. Public parks are often crowded, can't be used to entertain, and have other serious disadvantages.
- I understand that you've never used mass transit. New York City, where almost everyone uses trains to get around, has the LONGEST average commute in the NATION. Even super-congested Atlanta highways are better for getting around than NYC subways. And the hours you spend in dark tunnels are not generally pleasant--the trains are crowded, dirty, smelly. They are subject to random service interruptions and detours. They do not and can not service all possible locations. You are constantly bombarded by panhandlers, mentally ill people, and even sometimes perverts who expose themselves. They are unfit for handling large packages, luggage, moving, etc.
- It's true that if more people used mass transit, we'd need less parking. But mass transit. But see the last point. As long as people are allowed to choose, they will choose cars. You've never lived in the city without a car, so you don't know how obnoxious it can be to walk 10 blocks to a grocery store every other day to buy groceries. When I lived in the suburbs, I used Sam's Club and Costco to stock up (saving money and reducing environmental waste by buying in bulk). That's simply not possible in NYC using mass transit. And what about the elderly and disabled? Not everyone can walk everywhere.
- Several small family-owned businesses are NOT an improvement over big box retails stores, in my opinion. I live in exactly the situation you describe. All of the stores are dirty, crowded, and understocked. The shelfs are completely unorganized, so it is impossible to find what you want. The aisles aren't wide enough for two people to pass. The selection is extremely limited, so I usually have to go to multiple stores looking for what I need and even then I can't find it. The lines are long and the "friendly local service" is remarkably poor and rude.
You talk about how cities have always been wonderful. Remember, it was only very recently that urban populations overtook rural populations. Historically, people didn't want to live in cities. You talk about Rome and Greece--but those cities were mostly populated by slaves and people on the welfare dole, while the people who could live elsewhere lived in the countryside. People only ever moved into cities because they had to to get jobs. Historically, as today, cities were viewed as dirty, crime-ridden, polluted places to be avoided. Cities were never really revered.
Manhattan hemorrhages people. Millions of people come to the city (36% of its people were foreign-born). And then they rapidly leave. This is your vision: a city that few can even stand. Europe and other places in the world are rapidly suburbanizing.
HCB, you speak about the problems of the city as if they are due to malevolence or lack of will. That's simply not the case. Crime, crowds, noise, pollution, litter, high property prices, poor schools, racism, and violence come whenever you cram lots of people into a small area. The sorts of features you talked about are ways to lessen the burden of living in the city, but they aren't going to make it better than suburbs for most people. You talk as if people are ignorant or stupid. But they're mostly-rational maximizers. The suburbs are the cheapest way to get the highest possible quality of life. City life just isn't for most people.
I've ranted on for awhile, and I'll end with this: Live in Manhattan for a few years. Experience your utopia. You might love it, but you'll see clearly why city living is not for everyone. Until you see your ideas in operation and experience it, you're really in no position to say that everyone else should be forced to live like that. I really was like you when I was younger and had only had experience in the suburbs. But now my views have been much tempered by actual experience.
Last edited by Gedunker; 12 Mar 2007 at 11:06 AM. Reason: fixed quote tags
brandon, I doubt you realize it, but nearly 100% of what you just said was disproven in ONE book by Jane Jacobs. Just one book...
I'm asking, how can we get people to move to the city and change their mindsets about the city within the realm of things written by people like Jane Jacobs? Not exploring out of that realm here, just staying within it, because that is personally all I'm working with.
Heartland, you have shown me that you probably know more about Jacobs than most people on here. You also shown me that you refuse to learn about anyone else who either supports or diffutes her beliefs .
However, in order to convince me that you fully understand her writings, you really need to be more specific. Most of your blind devotion to Jacobs is very broad and insubstantiated. I have yet to see you mentiion (1) any direct citation of The Death and Life of Great American Cities and (2) how her writings have left a positive impact in planning. For #2, I need data (either specific projects, changes in demographics/statistics, etc.) to support your facts.
cch, not possible I have a couple months of high school left, and even then, I have college to go to.
One only has to look at places around urban Toronto. Look at Greenwich Village in NYC and other like areas. Look at the European Cities. I chose the cities I did for a reason, because they either use or are good examples of Jane Jacob's beliefs.
jaws, that is decentralization, which kills cities 10 million times faster and worse than sprawl.
I don't really care how other cities develop themselves, I only care about how Kansas City develops, and this is what I want for just Kansas City. It isn't like I want every city to be turned into something like this, because every city needs to be unique, but I want Kansas City to go in this direction and barely ever deviate from it.
Last edited by HeartlandCityBoy; 12 Mar 2007 at 6:20 PM.
Shall we move everyone into the world's tallest skyscraper then? All to avoid decentralization?
No, because that IMO isn't a true city.
But like I said, this isn't something I want for the whole world, just Kansas City.
My idea of a city's density consists of the Downtown having skyscrapers and highrises. That also encourage constant street use.
Outside the Downtown you have occassional highrises/skyscrapers or districts of their own with skyscrapers or own special uses/culture. Most of the buildings would be between 5 and 15 floors.
Outside that, you have neighborhoods consisting of buildings between 3 and 7 floors.
Outside of that you have single family homes about 2-3 floors tall with about 1500 square feet on the first floor, spaced a few feet apart with small front yards and most of the activity on the sidewalks and street.
Then as you go farther out, the density gets less and less, ending at about a 10-15 mile radius from the Downtown. Outside that area you have agricultural communities with smaller towns between 100 and 20,000 people living in them, that are like the city, only shrunk on a very small scale.
Not to mention the houses cannot be identically built and can't be flipped (as in orientation) so as to appear different. The houses have to be different and independence to build/expand how they want pretty much would be encouraged.
Highways are only really existant in their current form beyond the main density of the city, they shrink tremendously eventually reaching the size of avenues or boulevards in the first parts of the Downtown and just outside. Commercial/Retail uses are always within walking distance and so are schools.
That is just a tiny rough outline of my idea just of how the density would appear. Or how i'd rather see it appear in KC.
If you don't offer the customer what he/she wants, he or she will go elsewhere -- ie, the suburbs.
Last edited by Gedunker; 12 Mar 2007 at 9:04 PM. Reason: fixed quote tags
I don't want to go into the details, I know what I'm talking about, but I don't want to go into details because it takes her entire book to explain. Those areas have aspects from just about every chapter of that book, and most fulfill those. She especially uses Greenwich Village as an example. I don't want to explain it, if someone wants to know, they can read the book themselves.
Linda, IMO, your wrong, like I said, people in their mindsets, know what they want, but they just express it in the wrong way and ask for the wrong things. They might ask for larger highways, more bridges, more parking, etc... But what they really NEED is mass transit and things within walking distance. You get the same needs that they are wanting, but you are reaching them in the proper way.
People ask for open space, and we need open space, but not at the level in which suburbs have it. It would be proper to develop the greenspace/open space in public parks, larger public parks, streescape trees, bushes, vacation/resort type areas near lakes. (which wouldn't sprawl out, but would be their own special area, kind of like the Lake of the Ozarks, only not spread out so much) National/State parks, etc... But people don't need 60ft streets with a front yard going back 50ft+ and a backyard going back to the house behind them, along with huge parks in these non-dense areas. (as those parks are barely used).
Also, parks can be for seclusion, but really parks are just a means of having the natural world and open space in cities, they are another gathering place for people, not for people wanting to be isolated. Parks must be almost constantly populated, as well as have a wide variety/diversity of uses.
Not to mention that people that want a longer escape from the city can go to places that aren't really occupied outside of the city, like farms, lakes, national/state parks etc...
Look at European cities for example, like Zurich and Copenhagen, they have a lot of density, which is what cities need to be, but it doesn't mean they must be. I want to see that for KC. With well over 400,000 people in our innermost 60 square miles. With slightly decreasing density going out. These European cities preserve open space, as well as have small parks and plazas.
Look at Copenhagen, not only is it winning the fight against personal automobiles, and it has a density average of about 15,000 people per square mile, but the main city basically ends 10 miles west of Indry By (basically like it's "Downtown"). Yet the city has a population of over 500,000 in 34 square miles. With the area at over 1 million.
Zurich is also very successful and basically has the best quality of life in the world. It is extremely dense, as well as preserves a lot of open space and encourages mass transit rather than personal automobile use, as well as a lot of other things.
For Jane Jacob's beliefs to work, areas have to be dense, not spread out, but while I believe EVERY urban area needs to apply her beliefs, the sprawling suburbs need to make moves to stop sprawling and focus on centralizing themselves more and becoming much less personal automobile oriented.
There is a lot more to go on, but it's best to just read her book.
Last edited by HeartlandCityBoy; 12 Mar 2007 at 8:22 PM.
You don’t seem to very concerned with why people feel the way they do about cities and suburbs; instead, it seems like you’re only interested in making them fit your own viewpoint. (I’m speaking specifically about city design; I’m not going to try to address the racism issue ) But these “why” questions are the key to the whole issue. Until you recognize people’s preferences as legitimate, realize why they have them, and find ways accommodate them, you won’t be able to get their support for the changes you want to make. And you will need their support – politically, financially, etc. Gone are the days of Baron Haussmann, who had the power to shape Paris to his liking, and even he needed the backing of the French king……
You would probably get a lot out of attending a charette or community visioning. Watching the public express ideas or concerns in helping to plan out a part of their neighborhood can be extremely illuminating as to what people value or dislike about where they live. People have very emotional responses to the places they live (as well as rational ones); otherwise you wouldn’t feel as passionate about Kansas City’s design as you do. Watching people gather and respond to each other's suggestions and emotions might not only give you suggestions on how to effectively present your ideas, but it might also humanize the process for you and broaden your horizons.
Charettes can sometimes be hard to find, but a bit of internet searching or following the news might help you find some in your area. Or, contact the planning department of your local university; they will frequently advertise these events to students who want to watch or participate, and I’m sure it wouldn’t be a problem for them to notify you as well. You could even learn a lot from attending public meetings held by the your local planning office; you might get frustrated by the NIMBYism sometimes, but you’ll have a better understanding of why it exists.
You also might want to read about the political forces behind suburban development (both sprawling and not), and begin to explore the sociological aspects of why people live certain places. A good place to start would be “This Land” by Anthony Flint, who is a journalist for the Boston Globe. He appears to be pretty sympathetic to Smart Growth ideas, but he spends a considerable portion of the book talking about the people who fight Smart Growth initiatives and why they feel the way they do. He also has a fascinating section on the how people feel about urban areas in terms of safety, whether that relates to street crime or terrorist and natural disasters. Heincludes a bibliographic essay in the back that lists other books on these issues.
Hopefully this will help you to start figuring out approaches for creating denser, more urbanized environments that will gain public support. As for doing what people want vs. creating your vision of the good society, it’s an inherent problem in democracy that’s existed since the drafting of the Constitution. If that’s what’s irking you, it’s going to be irking you for a long time.
And to make a difference in the areas you’re interested in, you need to stop thinking and talking in such absolute terms. Seriously. Especially in terms of what you think you know. (I started looking at these issues in high school too, when I started getting pissed off at the ways my community was being developed. Now I’m an urban planning grad student and I can tell you, I feel far more awe at all of the things I still need to learn than I feel confidence in the things I already know.) I’m sure you’re devoted to urbanism, but you sound like a religious fanatic, which will turn off many people who would otherwise be willing to work with you.
Last edited by Zoidberg; 13 Mar 2007 at 3:30 AM. Reason: refining a thought or two.
Well I understand why people think the way they do about cities, they've been fed falsehoods about cities for years, also, for most people, all they've known is the suburban lifestyle and commuting. Not to mention that people see the urban areas that have fallen into poor states, like ours, St. Louis', NYC in the 80s-90s, Los Angeles (though not really urban IMO), etc... and think all urban areas are dangerous and unhealthy.
But those have been disproven many times, yes urban areas can enter bad states like some were before WWII, and then many were from the 60s on. However urban areas are also the most successful, safe, healthy and productive areas of the world if they are managed/built properly.
Some think that when you pack a lot of people into an area, crime rises, it becomes more dangerous, health declines, etc... However this just isn't true, yes it is true for urban areas that have broken down and been managed/planned poorly and turned into slums, but it is not true for the good urban areas. Putting people into concentrated areas is instead the most healthy alternative and isn't dangerous so long as you have that density. Not to mention you also have a lot of community leaders and pride. Sprawling out also greatly increases cost in infrastructure, police and fire. Our city has good fire protection, as it's different than police, but our police have a lot of problems because they have to not only worry about the inner city, but also they have to worry about the whole 313.5 square miles and 450,000 people that encompass our city.
But luckily my generation will be living in the beginning of the era that will be the death of the post 60s sprawling suburbs.
What a snob!!! If you don't like the burbs don't live there. Others don't like the city and they chose not to live there. Its all very simple. But, I guess if others don't share your goals they must be isolationists and/or racists, because no enlightened human could disagree with you. We must intorduce regulation!!!
Why do the enlightened long for the days when the massess lived on top of one another with no exposure to trees and grass? I guess we were all easier to control back in the good old days.
We've warned everybody to stay on-topic and away from personal attacks. This is what happens when y'all don't listen.
This thread has become a train wreck. Some folks can't resist watching train wrecks. I'll save everybody the trouble -- Thread Closed.
Last edited by Gedunker; 13 Mar 2007 at 9:24 AM.