Tag Archives: Santa Monica

Growing Green in the Asphalt Jungle: Engineering Bikeability for Fun and Profit

Los Angeles is strapped for cash. Officials are resorting to the equivalent of digging under sofa cushions for change: ticketing unlicensed dog owners, cracking down with parking tickets, and raising Metro fares. But they’re going about it the wrong way — there’s gold right in LA’s streets, just waiting to be exploited. All that’s needed is a proper vision.
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Posted in Auto Independence, can bicycles save the world?, Culture, David Yoon, human scale, Livability, mashups, Placemaking, Transportation, urban design, urban planning, walkable, What if? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Question of Nomenclature: What is a Neighborhood?

What, exactly, is a neighborhood? People on all sides of the urban conversation talk about neighborhoods, trotting them out to support everything from transit oriented development to the suburban status quo, from Smart Growth to no growth. Formal definitions vary, but few include criteria beyond a set of distinctive characteristics shared by a contiguous geographic area inhabited by people who behave neighborly. Which, despite its vagueness, sounds sensible enough. Imprecise, but sensible. And yet, when I think about the neighborhoods I’ve lived in, or spent time in, few of them fit even this ambiguous definition.
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Posted in Culture, History, Josh Grigsby, Nomenclature, Personal Experiences, Sarasota, urban design, urban planning, vernacular architecture, walkable, What if? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Brad Pitt, Andres Duany, and Aesthetic Diversity: Why There’s Room for Everyone in the New N’awlins

The New Orleans that was swept away when the levees broke cannot be restored. A new New Orleans is rising—it cannot be otherwise. Isn’t it possible that in this new New Orleans there is room for Frank Gehry and Andres Duany? For the experimental and the traditional? For the future and the past? Can’t this new New Orleans be a city that retells the stories of its forebears while crafting new tales of its own? It has been a long time since New Orleans had anything new to add to the larger discussion of American urbanism. A long time since the national spotlight shone on it for reasons other than crime, poverty, catastrophe, or the musical achievements of the past.

History should never be forgotten, but neither should it be made into a golden calf. Cities need to breathe, they need to periodically remake themselves. As long as the people remaking New Orleans remain in service to the city’s most vulnerable residents, New Orleans wins. Architects win. Design wins. Creativity wins. Experimentation wins. A new vernacular arises alongside the old. Continue reading

Posted in Culture, History, human scale, Josh Grigsby, Livability, Neighbors, Placemaking, Response Pieces, Sustainability, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 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

Literary Theme Parks

The affront to our more cultivated sensibilities aside, are literary theme parks really signs of the apocalypse? Do they cheapen the written word or testify to its durability? Cormac McCarthy has said that he doesn’t think film adaptations of his books have any effect on the books themselves, that the books are the books and nothing can change them. Even with the thousands of professional and amateur adaptations and reinterpretations of A Christmas Carol, and even since the opening of Dickens World, the book itself remains a great read. Continue reading

Posted in Culture, Josh Grigsby, Rants, Response Pieces | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments