Suburbs are out; Walkability is In

DC Blogger Franklin Schneider took to to share his thoughts on the politics of American Gigantism in the Cold War era and the present decline of spread-out suburbs and malls in favor of walkable redevelopments. He argues that Americans were swept up by the “big” craze after the Cold War to prove their “triumphalist spectacles of capital to contrast… the dour, grey ‘Evil Empire’ of the USSR” –“Why make a movie when you can make a franchise?…Why have a bunch of office buildings when we can have one huge office building? Why not just build a bunch of huge identical houses thirty miles away from the city center where everyone works–they can drive in, gas will always be cheap!” After the initial impulse, the result was an “alienating, social atomizing effect of Gigantic culture,” he writes, which we are now saddled with the burden of reversing. Americans today want more walkability, more village-style redevelopment, and they want to move back into the cities while still being able to see green space. Schneider says, “t’s going to be expensive, and take decades, to reverse this wrong turn.  You can’t repurpose malls or office parks, and even the poor don’t want to live in the suburbs anymore.  We’ll have to spend billions to tear down and rebuild, and… we’ve squandered all this money and effort erecting these monstrosities…” This, he says, is the reason for the push back into cities. His article explores an interesting political history that explains this reversal and the change in American ethos.

Do you agree? Read Schneider’s article here, “The American Reversal: On the Decline of the Suburbs, Malls, and Office Parks.”


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