It is easy to imagine that the streets of our neighborhoods, the sidewalks, the parkways (optimistically called tree lawns here), and our front porches could and should become more active and more suitable for sitting, standing to discuss the news of the day with neighbors, walking and strolling and biking. We have talked here often … Continue reading City in Front, City in Back
"Maybe the future is bad. But there's a future beyond that, right?" Yuno Gasa. First there is the city that we have constructed. Next is the city of the present, a quiet city, a city of stillness, anxiety and waiting. As we are confining ourselves indoors, we ask ourselves about life in our present cities. … Continue reading The Quiet City, The Future City
Recently I discovered the existence of a new kind of streetcar - the Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit tram, which has been dubbed ART. The system was developed in China and is trackless - it operates on existing streets (!!). The system has a cost of about one tenth (!!!) of railbound streetcars and it can … Continue reading Slowly I turned, step by step, inch by inch
An ancient definition of architecture suggests that three terms best pertain: Commodity (convenient, functional, useful), Firmness (lasting, robust, sturdy, resilient) and Delight (attractive, beautiful, harmonious, graceful). Though this characterization of the art of building has been with us since the 1st century BCE, it has proven to be extraordinarily durable. Its author, Marcus Vitruvius Pollio … Continue reading “That’s not writing, that’s just typing.”
Peshwar, Pakistan. Baltimore. Shibam, Yemen. Iftar in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Image by Ulet Ifansasti for the NYT. Hutong in Beijing. Image for the NYT. NYC. Image by Niko Kallianiotis. Manila Slums. Rochester, NY. Photo for the D&C. Lagos, Nigeria, image by Edward Burtynsky. Kabul, image by Jim Huylebroek for the NYT. Image by Niko Kallianiotis. Cape … Continue reading Which “We” Are Really All In This Together?
Rochester's public realm: reclaimed during a pandemic. Image by Maria Furgiuele And Chicago's, in Ravenswood. Image by Jim Peters In the end, my years-long campaign to alter the presence of the automobile in our cities has always had two underlying and perhaps not very well hidden objectives. First has been a desire to reclaim and … Continue reading The Public Realm Reclaimed – At Last
First, a Prologue. We here at A Town Square are in a CDC quarantine: we had spent time in the wonderful cities of Madrid and Valencia, left at the last possible moment as the Spanish nation locked itself down, and arrived in the US to be told that we would be spending a couple of … Continue reading Our Grid of Streets, Blocks, and Buildings, And at Last, No Cars….
As I have endlessly noted here, our city of Rochester adopted the scorched earth policy for automobility at an early moment: streetcars removed in 1941, subway demolished in 1956, expressways as our emerald necklace in the 1950s, a mid-century Inner Loop that strangled our central city, demolition of everything possible downtown in favor of parking, … Continue reading Rearranging the Grid
For a long time, I have found myself wondering about a simple question: how much do we spend every year on our roads and bridges? Is it a lot? Is it not very much? Essentially: are we putting our tax dollars to work in the best way we can when it comes to securing and … Continue reading Check your Wallet….
Where do I walk? Why do I have to walk in the aisles with the cars? Why are there so few trees? What was here before? I can’t find my car. Why did this place flood? Seems like a long walk to the store. Do you think it’s safe at night? Doesn’t anyone park here … Continue reading Wish You Were Here?