Real-estate legend Sam Zell said recently that the "End of Suburbia" might be happening. Right here and now. Of course, all the suburban dreck that was built in the last six decades isn't going to vaporize. But, in terms of new construction -- in other words, the real estate development business [...]
|Scooped by Bryan Joseph|
Real-estate legend Sam Zell said recently that the “End of Suburbia” might be happening. Right here and now.
Of course, all the suburban dreck that was built in the last six decades isn’t going to vaporize. But, in terms of new construction — in other words, the real estate development business — reproducing the postwar, automobile-dependent Suburbia pattern is a money-losing proposition.
“You’re drawing all the young people in America to these 24/7 cities,” said Zell last October. “The last thing they want to do is live in the suburbs.”
Of course, as people get a little older, compromises ensue. But, that doesn’t mean they like it. “Why would anyone live in the suburbs, except to provide schools for their kids?” Zell asked.
The first criticisms of the American automobile suburb began about the same time as the suburbs themselves appeared in the 1920s and expanded in the postwar period. “There’s no there there,” lamented Gertrude Stein about Oakland, California, in 1937. She would know — she grew up there.
But, if we aren’t going to build suburbs, what should we build?
I propose that we build what I call the Traditional City — the normal form of human urban living for the last five thousand years. The Traditional City is the basic form of historic cities in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, and both pre-Columbian and post-Columbian Americas.
It is the form of ancient Rome, of the Aztecs’ capital city Tenochtitlan, of ancient Cuzco and Machu Picchu, of Alexandria in Egypt, and medieval Kyoto. It is also the basic form of most of modern Tokyo (built after 1950), central Paris, and Kathmandu, Nepal.
Hundreds of millions of people — perhaps billions — are living in Traditional City environments today, throughout Europe and Asia. You could hardly think of anything that has a longer track record of proven success.
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