Actually, what really enabled the suburbanization of America was the
interstate highway system,
begun in the Eisenhower era. The interstate highway system was an artifact
of the cold war, a means
of moving defensive forces rapidly anywhere in the country (one mile in
five, I think, of all interstate
highways had to be straight enough to land a plane on). Fast highways,
connecting urban areas, and (especially) the
beltways that allow you to drive around them, seeded the countryside with
for homeowners, and eventually businesses. The famous Route 128, in the
Boston area allowed
industry to move out of the central city, and the employment it provided
(absent any public transit)
forced people to use cars to get to work. I grew up in the area before
that development really took
hold, and people took commuter rail into Boston, driving at most to a
parking lot at the train station.
With industry distributed now, the damage is done. You can't get the
people back into the cities
without wrecking the economy. Hopefully, with the arrival of the "service
economy" and "mind workers",
more people can work from their homes, and cut down on the driving that
"Vandergraaf, Chuck" <firstname.lastname@example.org>@udomo3.calvin.edu on 04/23/2001
Sent by: email@example.com
To: "'Jonathan Clarke'" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: RE: Kyoto
I have found that it's better to live in a moderate-to-cold climate because
one can always add clothing to keep warm, but there is a limit to how much
clothing you can remove. ;-) I have read somewhere that loose fitting
actually helps cool you by providing an airflow (updraft) between the
clothing and the body, so there may be an optimum.
The reason North American cities are so spread out is no doubt due to cheap
and portable energy and affordable private cars. We all (well, many of us)
want to have a grass buffer between ourselves and our neighbours and prefer
to live in detached houses rather than in apartment buildings. As long as
portable energy remains cheap, we will continue to do so.
As far as I know, there are only three ways to turn this suburbanization
1) increase the cost of portable energy
2) make it difficult to drive in cities and encourage increased use of
3) rely on people to make a conscious decision to move closer together
Increasing the cost of portable energy will come automatically when our
resources run out or when society decides that "it's a good thing" for
prices to go up.
Encourage the use of public transit can be done by providing free public
transit and use the money to fund this by cutting back on building roads.
This is a case of "social engineering" and may not be acceptable to the
public. IOW, politicians that advocate this won't get (re)elected.
The third option is not likely to be a viable one as long as the
and the media tout the advantages of suburbia.
Problem is that, if we don't do something proactive, we will live with the
consequences and these will include massive dislocation and disruptions.
For example, those of us who live in suburbs would see the price of our
homes plummet if the cost of portable energy goes through the roof. Since,
for many of us, our home is our investment, we have a vested interest in
maintaining the status quo: "après nous, le deluge."
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