Let’s Take a Traditional City Break 2: More Really Narrow Streets Than You Can Shake a Stick At
February 13, 2011
I was travelling the last couple days, so for this week let’s just finish exploring our Traditional City folder.
A street in Yemen.
Tyne Bridge, England.
Map of Tenochtitlan, a major city of the Aztecs. Really Narrow Streets? Oh yeah.
Really Narrow Street in Switzerland.
A little run down, no doubt about it. But the Traditional City looks pretty good even when in disrepair. Both Suburban Hell and the 19th Century Hypertrophic City look kinda scummy even at their best, and quickly degenerate into a wasteland if people get even a bit careless.
Holy moley those are some gorgeous buildings. We should round up all the architects today and give them a good spanking.
On the one hand, there is almost nothing here. Just some blank walls painted a rather dirty yellow. And yet, it is quite lovely. Once you start introducing cars, everything becomes a lot more difficult.
St. Paul de Vence, southern France.
More Really Narrow Street porn.
This stuff is sooooo easy to make. It’s nothing. You just have to do it.
Some suggestive ideas about integrating high-rises and Traditional City elements here.
Another part of Shanghai. Of course, this is NOT a Traditional City neighborhood, but 20th Century Hypertrophism. Huge roadways. Monster buildings, in a repetitive pattern. Lots of Green Space. Totally unwalkable. Blech.
In a Traditional City, which is a place for People, not Cars, then — you guessed it — there are people!
This is “becoming an adult day” in Japan. Girls who turned 20 all dress up in tippy-top quality kimono and parade around town.
When your city become a place for Cars, not People, then nobody goes out on the street like this. You don’t dress like this in a place for Cars.
Believe me, it is way more fun when your city is a place for People.
It’s so horrible. Unbearable to look at, really. Can’t we just replace this with a parking lot?
Robin Hood’s Bay, England.
Robin Hood’s Bay. Once again an example of the principle that you have a compact City (or village), and then Nature (or farms). You don’t have some spread out goo that is neither City nor Nature nor Farm. That’s why we call it Suburban Hell instead of Suburban Heaven. It doesn’t work.
Here is an example of 19th Century Hypertrophism. At first glance, this might look like a Traditional City, but obviously it is not. The roadway is not a Really Narrow Street for pedestrians, it is a two-hundred-foot-wide colossus for automobiles — even though, in fact, this street was laid out a hundred years before automobiles. The buildings are side-by-side and right up against the roadway, with no useless Green Space, but they are Hypertrophic, an exaggerated version of the 3-7 story Traditional City building. The human is not a happy person in an environment designed for human use (the pedestrian, no-car Traditional City), but a tiny speck in a vast concrete canyon, squeezed between a Great Pyramid-like monster monolith building and eight lanes of deadly roaring traffic.
You can live your whole life comfortably in a Traditional City. It is very inviting and pleasant. But after a few years of living in a 19th Century Hypertrophic city, most people get worn out and yearn for something soft, human, gentle, comfortable. For the last two hundred years, in the U.S., this has meant the suburbs.
Doesn’t really work, does it?
The proper solution is of course the Traditional City.
What do you think — that we have amassed 200 years of failure with the inhospitable 19th/20th Century Hypertrophic City/Suburban Hell combo, but we’re going to get it right in the next 200 years? Oh really? Is there even one single example of success after 200 years of trying? No, there is not one.
You either learn from your mistakes … or you don’t.
Definitely NOT a 19th Century Hypertrophic city, is it?
Jaffa is considered one of the oldest cities in the world, dating from 7,500 BC.
Yes, 7,500 BC.
How is that for “sustainable?”
Do you see what I mean about a soft, inviting, human-friendly environment? A nice place for kids, women, families, senior citizens. Not a concrete jungle with eight lanes of roaring traffic in the middle.
Some nice trees here but no Green Space.
This is your European heritage. Not to shabby, right? Why not just enjoy it rather than avoiding it?
There’s a lesson here about incorporating large buildings with Really Narrow Streets.
Other commentary in this series:
February 6, 2011: Let’s Take a Traditional City Break
December 19, 2010: Life Without Cars: 2010 Edition
October 17, 2010: The Problem of Scarcity 3: Resource Scarcity
August 22, 2010: How to Make a Pile of Dough with the Traditional City
August 1, 2010: The Problem With Bicycles
June 6, 2010: Transitioning to the Traditional City 2: Pooh-poohing the Naysayers
May 23, 2010: Transitioning to the Traditional City
May 16, 2010: The Service Economy
April 18, 2010: How to Live the Good Life in the Traditional City
April 4, 2010: The Problem With Little Teeny Farms 2: How Many Acres Can Sustain a Family?
March 28, 2010: The Problem With Little Teeny Farms
March 14, 2010: The Traditional City: Bringing It All Together
March 7, 2010: Let’s Take a Trip to Suburban Hell
February 21, 2010: Toledo, Spain or Toledo, Ohio?
January 31, 2010: Let’s Take a Trip to New York 2: The Bad and the Ugly
January 24, 2010: Let’s Take a Trip to New York City
January 10, 2010: We Could All Be Wizards
December 27, 2009: What a Real Train System Looks Like
December 13, 2009: Life Without Cars: 2009 Edition
November 22, 2009: What Comes After Heroic Materialism?
November 15, 2009: Let’s Kick Around Carfree.com
November 8, 2009: The Future Stinks
October 18, 2009: Let’s Take Another Trip to Venice
October 10, 2009: Place and Non-Place
September 28, 2009: Let’s Take a Trip to Barcelona
September 20, 2009: The Problem of Scarcity 2: It’s All In Your Head
September 13, 2009: The Problem of Scarcity
July 26, 2009: Let’s Take a Trip to an American Village 3: How the Suburbs Came to Be
July 19, 2009: Let’s Take a Trip to an American Village 2: Downtown
July 12, 2009: Let’s Take a Trip to an American Village
May 3, 2009: A Bazillion Windmills
April 19, 2009: Let’s Kick Around the “Sustainability” Types
March 3, 2009: Let’s Visit Some More Villages
February 15, 2009: Let’s Take a Trip to the French Village
February 1, 2009: Let’s Take a Trip to the English Village
January 25, 2009: How to Buy Gold on the Comex (scroll down)
January 4, 2009: Currency Management for Little Countries (scroll down)
December 28, 2008: Currencies are Causes, not Effects (scroll down)
December 21, 2008: Life Without Cars
August 10, 2008: Visions of Future Cities
July 20, 2008: The Traditional City vs. the “Radiant City”
December 2, 2007: Let’s Take a Trip to Tokyo
October 7, 2007: Let’s Take a Trip to Venice
June 17, 2007: Recipe for Florence
July 9, 2007: No Growth Economics
March 26, 2006: The Eco-Metropolis