"About 10,000 years ago, hunter-gatherers, aided by rudimentary agriculture, moved to semi-permanent villages and never looked back. With further developments came food surpluses, leading to commerce, specialization and, many years later with the Industrial Revolution, the modern city. Vance Kite plots our urban past and how we can expect future cities to adapt to our growing populations."
"For the first time in human history, more of the world’s 6.8 billion people live in cities than in rural areas. That is an incredible demographic and geographic shift since 1950 when only 30 percent of the world’s 2.5 billion inhabitants lived in urban environments.
The world’s largest cities, particularly in developing countries, are growing at phenomenal rates. As a growing landless class is attracted by urban opportunities, meager as they might be, these cities’ populations are ballooning to incredible numbers.
A May 2010 Christian Science Monitor article on “megacities” predicted that by 2050, almost 70 percent of the world’s estimated 10 billion people—more than the number of people living today—will reside in urban areas. The social, economic and environmental problems associated with a predominantly urbanized population are considerably different from those of the mostly rural world population of the past."
Beginning in the 1950s, cities demolished thousands of homes in walkable neighborhoods to make room for freeways.
At the time, this was seen as a sign of progress. Not only did planners hope to help people get downtown more quickly, they saw many of the neighborhoods being torn down as blighted and in need of urban renewal. But tearing down a struggling neighborhood rarely made problems like crime and overcrowding go away. To the contrary, displaced people would move to other neighborhoods, often exacerbating overcrowding problems. Crime rates rose, not fell, in the years after these projects. By cutting urban neighborhoods in half, planners undermined the blocks on either side of the freeway. The freeways made nearby neighborhoods less walkable. Reduced foot traffic made them less attractive places for stores and restaurants. And that, in turn, made them even less walkable. Those with the means to do so moved to the suburbs, accelerating the neighborhoods' decline.
"When you combine a street and a road, you get a STROAD, one of the most dangerous and unproductive human environments. To get more for our transportation dollar, America needs an active policy of converting STROADs to productive streets or high capacity roadways."
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