Tag Archives: Chicago

Picture-Perfect Portland?

Portland is one of the most-praised cities in contemporary America. But is the hype real? To some extent, it actually understates the case.

Portland didn’t invent bicycles, density or light rail — but it understood the future implications of them for America’s smaller cities first, and put that knowledge to use before anyone else. The longest journey begins with a step, but you have to take it. Nobody else did. In an era where most American cities went one direction, Portland went another, either capturing or even creating the zeitgeist of a new age. Continue reading

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Posted in Culture, Placemaking, Portland: City or Scene?, transit | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Colonize

Urban gentrification is like global colonization. An advantaged people decide they fancy an area and use their advantages to push into it with, at best, disregard, and at worst, disdain, for the people already living there. The invaders use their might to erase the culture of current residents, and eventually, to erase the residents all together.

I know this, and yet, my feelings about gentrification are ambivalent: a blend of concern and guilt. Yes, guilt. Because I have been an urban colonizer. Continue reading

Posted in Culture, History, Livability, Neighbors, Placemaking, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Universal Beauty and the Responsibility of Cities

In chapter eight of Anthony M. Tung’s erudite and impressive Preserving the World’s Great Cities: The Destruction and Renewal of the Historic Metropolis, there is a passage that stopped me in my proverbial tracks and hasn’t left my thoughts since. Tung is writing about Amsterdam at the dawn of the 20th century:

As parts of the inner city became slums and were threatened with clearance, and as picturesque canals were filled in to create new roads and better circulation, elements of the historic environment began to be eliminated. Growing numbers of citizens became alarmed and called for preservation of the historic center. In addition, a new ring of speculative housing began to surround the old metropolis. Numerous Amsterdammers began to ask that the expansion of the city meet a reasonable standard of beauty. Continue reading

Posted in Culture, History, Josh Grigsby, Livability, Placemaking, Rants, Sustainability, Uncategorized, What if? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments