Do cities work anymore? How did they get to be such sprawling conglomerations of lookalike subdivisions, megafreeways, and "big box" superstores surrounded by acres of parking lots? And why, most of all, don't they feel like real communities? These are the questions that Alex Marshall tackles in this hard-hitting, highly readable look at what makes cities work.
Marshall argues that urban life has broken down because of our basic ignorance of the real forces that shape cities-transportation systems, industry and business, and political decision making. He explores how these forces have built four very different urban environments-the decentralized sprawl of California's Silicon Valley, the crowded streets of New York City's Jackson Heights neighborhood, the controlled growth of Portland, Oregon, and the stage-set facades of Disney's planned community, Celebration, Florida.
To build better cities, Marshall asserts, we must understand and intelligently direct the forces that shape them. Without prescribing any one solution, he defines the key issues facing all concerned citizens who are trying to control urban sprawl and build real communities. His timely book will be important reading for a wide public and professional audience.
What does a good place to live in America look like? Is it a teeming city like New York, a stylish designer community like Seaside, FL, or an innovative if imperfect mid-sized city like Portland, OR? Our cities, warts and all, are generating more interest than has been seen in decades. In The Regional City, Calthorpe, a leader in the New Urbanism movement, and Fulton (The Reluctant Metropolis), president of Solimar Research Corp., take a more systemic approach to urban design than has been typical of New Urbanism, best known for creating planned communities. The authors are adamant that regional cooperation and coordination is essential to sustaining healthy cities and addressing complex urban problems. Modern cities are actually linked metropolitan regions concentric rings of often decaying inner cities, older suburbs, new suburbs, and once autonomous towns that have become part of the metropolis. Through regional planning, the links can be strengthened to create a coherent city with a sense of place. Written in accessible style, The Regional City outlines a framework for planning today's cities. Marshall criticizes New Urbanism for being more about style than substance, but he acknowledges that the more it recognizes the hard truths of regional planning, the more it can become a positive force. A journalist by trade, Marshall writes with wit, reason, and style, effectively driving home his well-researched premise that cities exist and evolve based on transportation systems, the building of wealth, and government guidance or misguidance. He offers few solutions to current urban problems, setting his sights on enlightening the reader about why and how cities evolve. Marshall cites the human craving for simple solutions to complex problems and makes it clear that when people come together to plan a regional city consciously, as they have in Portland, OR, difficult choices must be made. The Regional City is essential for academic collections supporting programs in urban planning, public administration, or architecture. How Cities Work is very strongly recommended for both academic and public libraries as an excellent resource on the history and future of American cities. Drew Harrington, Pacific Univ., Forest Grove, OR Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.