The values often labeled “urbanism” are really about living the kind of locally-centered life that’s easier on your wallet, the environment, and your health—and that makes our communities more prosperous and resilient as well. But do you need to move downtown to be an urbanist? Absolutely not.
We, as a culture, have become so fixated on growing jobs in our communities that we can’t see anything else. It is up to us to recognize that our cities and metro areas can ask for better.
Rust Belt cities have endured difficult losses, and no matter how hard they’ve tried, they have never quite been able to shake the financial and psychological wounds. So today, we’re taking the American city to therapy.
When a new brewpub, restaurant, or entertainment venue opens in your town, is this a sign of growth, or merely a shift in where patrons spend their dollars? And what does that imply about cities that subsidize such things?
Wide, fast avenues through residential areas act as moats. They divide residents from jobs, resources, and each other, and harm cities’ prosperity and quality of life. Here’s one example of such a “moat.”
Take a photo tour of some great streets in Syracuse and see what makes the traditional development pattern work so well on the ground.
To assume that a street-forward, mixed use development will activate a lifeless area is like assuming that gardening is a matter of “just add water.” In reality, different urban environments—like different soils, climates, and plants—require different elements of care.
What does it take to bring life back to a faded downtown? Contrary to conventional wisdom, big employers may underperform as revitalization engines, and small-bet approaches—improvisational, innovative, and low-risk—can deliver outsize rewards.