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City vs. town

crazytrain

Member
Messages
4
Points
0
I don't believe that it is in any way natural to live in a dense, physically intense, skyscraper covered metropolis. I believe that there is an optimum size for any community, in which a person can comfortably walk across the community to school or work without any form of transportation except for that of their own two legs.
But larger cities reap the benefits of being a center of trade, education, art, politics, music, or anything else that draws people together. And throughout history, cities have brought people out of ignorance and isolation and into a more social world. In America especially they have been the mini-melting pots of ideas and people. (And although technology may have had a enormous impact in bringing people together electronically, i don't think i could stand a society that only socialized on the internet or phone)
But there is no reason to believe that you cannot provide a community that benefits both ways. The lack of quality, well planned neighborhoods in urban areas is the main reason that people fled the cities into suburbia and small towns in the early 20th century. People were eager to flee the city long before the automobile became accesible to the masses. The only reason we want sprawl is because we aren't happy with the cities we have. But one look at the few cities that did provide at least adequate neighborhoods, such as New York, and you might realize that people are williing to put up with unnatural amounts of crowding and density in exchange for being in such a place. If a number of other cities had taken up a competitive philosophy, other cities would have benefited just as greatly (and maybe NY wouldn't be as crowded)/
 

GeekyBoy

Cyburbian
Messages
41
Points
2
I disagree. I don't think it is any less natural for humans to congregate in great, teeming masses, in a dense manner, when compared to the "idilic" country way of life. Indeed, I see the great flight to the suburbs being a sociological problem than a planning problem - that people having "brought" into the misguided ideal of the detached house, huge lawn and supposed privacy more than the failure of traditional neigbhourhoods - which in many cities, are still functioning vibrantly.

GB
 
Messages
5,353
Points
31
GeekyBoy said:
I disagree. I don't think it is any less natural for humans to congregate in great, teeming masses, in a dense manner, when compared to the "idilic" country way of life. Indeed, I see the great flight to the suburbs being a sociological problem than a planning problem - that people having "brought" into the misguided ideal of the detached house, huge lawn and supposed privacy more than the failure of traditional neigbhourhoods - which in many cities, are still functioning vibrantly.

GB
True. I've driven through many neighborhoods in cities and have asked, what differentiates this neigbhorhood from one in the suburbs? I think that the belief that suburbia is better than urban areas is a myth but we've had this suburbia vs. city discussion before.
 

Habanero

Cyburbian
Messages
3,241
Points
27
Disagree

After living in a great city, as Austin will always be, I find that my biggest reason for not living in the city was that the prices often get so jacked up that if I'm going to have to drive myself everywhere anyway I may as well make it out to the newer, somewhat cheaper spots. Prime example: The white and blue Spanish tile roof house off of 32nd (I think it's 32nd, by campus none the less, near the golf course on Red River) was a 3/2 going for no less than 500,000. The apartments across from the Red River Cafe are over $1000 per month, and the a/c works for only half of the summer since it's on a boiler system that management controls. Meanwhile, another apartment off of MoPac and Ben White was $510/month (by the Broken Spoke). Since Austin doesn't have the greatest transit system, I ended up in the south Austin apartment and drove, it was just as quick.

I think that's where a lot of it stems from. I would love to find an older home, but the fact is, KBHome can build one cheaper out of town a little bit, and there is a stigma about the older homes. For one, a lot of people don't want to invest that much time into a house that might need some work. Newer means "better" to most, although the newer homes are usually thrown up in a few months and the foundation is sagging within 10 years.

NYC is an amazing city, that's why it works. If Phoenix had that type of system, where you really could get anywhere without your own car, I'd be all over it. I think that may also limit the large sprawling masses from NYC, no cars, nowhere to park. Maybe I'm wrong.
 
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Messages
3,690
Points
27
Re: Disagree

TexasPlanner said:

NYC is an amazing city, that's why it works. If Phoenix had that type of system, where you really could get anywhere without your own car, I'd be all over it. I think that may also limit the large sprawling masses from NYC, no cars, nowhere to park. Maybe I'm wrong.
I think in other parts of the country, there may be a belief that NYC is this contained microcosm with relatively reduced sprawl. However, the range of commuting communities is just amazing - It is completely common to meet people who do a 90 min one way or more commute to work from outside the city. I have a lot of young, single friends that love living in the city. However, it is completely inevitable that when they meet someone and get married and start entertaining thoughts of leaving the city, usually because they can't afford a bigger apartment and are loathe to put their kids in the local public school and can't afford private.
 

poncho

Cyburbian
Messages
96
Points
4
This is true for Austin and I think alot of the other cities. I had a place in West Campus for 300 a month and I left because it got to be 550 a month, and that was before Austin really hit the boom time.

I still think that the intersection of Mopac and Ben White is still within the city, the fringe, but you could still get to campus and everywhere on a bike without too much fear for your life.

I live in a neighborhood that was platted and built in the 20's, probably considered a good startup place. I now find that I am outgrowing my 'hood. Due to the fact that others are there to "start up". I don't want a new home, right now I live in the youngest house I have ever lived in, but they are expensive, and there are very few that have not been fixed up around here. Too many people, that is my stock excuse.
 

crazytrain

Member
Messages
4
Points
0
true

let me go ahead and clarify a few things...and maybe some other things too...
I grew up in Austin, and I think that many austinites have the perception that if you live in new york you have to walk 5 miles and take two trains to get to the grocery store. not true. New York city works, like so many other great cities, because a person can do most anything from the reaches of their neighborhood. And at the same time they live within close proximity, or at least within public transportation's reach of just about anything else in new york city. Most kids in nyc city still generally walk to school, so i've heard. I guess i shouldn't have called living in a metropolis unnatural, but realize that places like new york are really more of a collection of smaller, more manageable, and definately more livable neighborhoods, even the most cosmopolitan areas.
Now Austin is somewhere around 5-10% of NYC's population, depending how you include the surrounding communities (that feed of our infrastructure but don't pay taxes). Yet, because of a complete lack of responsible planning, the average person has to drive 10-25 minutes, in cars we own, to get places in austin. That's without traffic. And the place you drove from is in most likely in a suburban neighborhood where you can mow your lawn and chat with a few of your neighbors, but really not much else.
And the sad part is that Austin is a better place to live than other parts of Texas, namely Houston or Dallas. I've met alot of northerners and foreigners in Austin, and whenever I have asked them about what they think of Austin they seem to get a sickly, half disgusted look on their face and talk about how they never needed a car from where they came from, and if they did they couldn't afford one. Something that really disturbs me is that people are willing to put 10 hours or usually more into their workweek just to make car & insurance payments, and pay for gas and repairs... But probably not 10 minutes helping out someone in need, or anything responsible really. But alot of things disturb me...
What if Austin or other places in america were subjected to the same kind of intelligent planning that nyc was put into? And this isn't of course any kind of new idea, this kind of comprehensive planning used to be common sense, and a big part of a city's pride and culture. Now, in texas at least, it's nothing more than an offense on a person's property rights
 

perryair

Cyburbian
Messages
41
Points
2
Now, im living in New York City right now, and it works because Manhattan is the concentrated center of a very large mass of people. The only reasons that I can walk to where I need to go to get groceries and etc is because of the sheer density that these neighborhoods have. I must hop on to the subway to get most of the places that I need to go aside from basic necessities, however.

The second densest place that I have visited, San Fran, has an even better urban feel for me, but at that slightly lower density, you have to drive or take some form of transit in order to have some sort of choice about the retail outlet that you go to.

Basically what im trying to say is that a truly walkable community needs to be at near the density of NYC. Any less dense, and you start to have to juggle the realities of auto-centric development. In order for a variety of businesses to locate themselves within a walking distance of you(1/4 mile or less, preferably less than 1/8 mile), you have to have a large enough mass of people to support those businesses. Most communities simply are not up to the task of planning for and accepting the kinds of densities found in NYC, San Fran, parts of L.A. and other such places.

Also, i've done plenty of times in the suburbs of South Florida, and there were 2 elementary, a middle, and a high school, 3 parks, a small industrial park, and a strip mall all within a 15 minute walk from my house. Did I have to drive to get to work? Yes To get downtown? Yes. But even in NYC, I have to get onto some form of transportation to get to school or to downtown.

The only thing we can ask for is that whatever type of community that we live in, that their leaders are responsible enough to actually plan and accomodate sufficient infrastructure for that community instead of letting the developers plop down as many houses as they can sell.
 

green22

INACTIVE
Messages
101
Points
6
I feel that humans are basically social to some degree, but that America's ethic has always been individualism. Get a house in the suburbs with a lawn and a white picket fence, and you've made it. Driving through town in your box, talking to friends on your cell phone and isolating yourself from people different than yourself is not looked at as selfish, but as normal. Isolating the poor in massive project towers was something that the city spent tax dollars on. Gated community's for middle and upper income residents are increasingly popular. It isn't density that keeps people out of Detroit, there are empty fields all over, it's class.
The American government redlined urban areas and gave government supported loans to war veterans to move out to the suburbs. If that wasn't enough, they built the interstate system through the city, to the country. Urban renewal projects further lowered the city's density and pushed people out. In the US, city residents still subsidize new suburbanization through infrastructure provision. Many suburbs would not build rental, low cost housing, public transportation, take homeless shelters or public housing, the poor were isolated in the cities. As many industries in the city closed, they left contaminated sites and unemployed people. it was much cheaper to build on greenfields in the suburbs who offered tax breaks. Public schools funding are increasingly being paid for by local property taxes, which gives poorer cities under funded schools. Class sizes increase, best teachers travel, or look for a new line of work. City zoning laws emulate the suburbs and ruin some of the best urban features of the city. Mandatory off street parking, separation of uses, lot coverage, setbacks, width of streets.
Most of the big cities that have prospered have many high density, mixed use areas which are easy to get around, although portions of all cities are in trouble; New York, Chicago, San Fransisco, Boston, Portland, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. Places like Detroit, Houston, Atlanta and Los Angeles have a severely degraded semi-urban character, with as much "community" feeling as an airport. I must admit humans have different tastes, and to some living in an urban environment like London would be like exiling me to Crawford Texas.
 

gkmo62u

Cyburbian
Messages
1,046
Points
23
I am by no means an expert on NYC Planning, but it seems to me we shouldn't confuse "intelligent planning" with density.

Face it, NYC was a mass of humanity well before it was a twinkle in Robert Moses' eye.

New York has essentially always been dense, and defined by its importantance early in the history of this Country.

The massive wave of immigration, say from 1880 to 1910 only exacerbated this condition (for better i'd say). Crowded vessels came to the Port of NY with passengers from EVERYWHERE. many stayed.

Again, this was well before "intelligent planning"

We love to beat this topic to death in these forums. The fact of the matter is that people love NYC. People love Austin. People even love Phoenix.

Why? Because Americans like their freedom to choose.

I can live in a "faux" TND or NU community (oh and still drive everywhere because, as others wrote, this fallacy of "walking everywhere can only repeated at NYC density).

I can live on the upper West side in NYC and not drive.

But it is not the best for everyone.
 
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