Thursday, July 28, 2005

More New Urbanism, This Time In The Nashville Scene

In keeping with the current theme of New Urbanism, let me refer you to two articles in this week's Nashville Scene (out yesterday). One is the Helter Shelter column by Walter Jowers entitled, "Bugged by the 'Burbs." The other is urban design critic Christine Kreyling's First Person "confession" about leaving her East Nashville neighborhood for a few months to live in the suburbs; it's entitled "Confessions of an Urbanist."

Jowers's article yields what I consider to be the New Urbanism quote of the week:
[I]t's not the house [that's extra-special], it's the neighborhood. I like a settled kind of place, where the trees are taller than the houses. I like a place where the porches are bigger than the garages. I like a place with sidewalks, and people on the sidewalks. I like to smell the neighbors' dinner cooking at Thanksgiving and Christmas. The only place I can get all this is in an old neighborhood, full of old houses. I'd just as soon live under a bridge as live in a place where the houses are taller than the trees and all have two- or three-car garages, but no front porches. Call me crazy, but I think the garage-to-porch ratio is a strong indicator of the health of society in general. In a neighborhood with big porches, there will always be some folks sitting outside, exchanging pleasantries with the neighbors and generally keeping an eye on things. That's good. Regular human contact keeps things civilized. In a neighborhood with big garages, cars are the predominant life form, and the people are strangers.
Now that's a formidable description of the real differences between city living and suburban subsistence.

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