The Quiet City, The Future City

"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

“That’s not writing, that’s just typing.”

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.”

Which “We” Are Really All In This Together?

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?

The Public Realm Reclaimed – At Last

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

Rearranging the Grid

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

Make Mine a Double

Recently I have found myself considering an unusual and interesting housing type, one which must exist in other places but has a special character and presence here in Rochester. Here is an example: This is a double house, or duplex house. It looks like a large single-family home, but it is actually two units. We … Continue reading Make Mine a Double

Portland: Can there be a detour ahead?

We are all now well schooled in the notion that Portland, Oregon is the model of current 21st century urbanism in America. Portland, at sunrise. It is a city known for its excellent transportation infrastructure, its many walkable neighborhoods, its tree lined streets, great parks, lovely historic resources, and the liberal and open culture that … Continue reading Portland: Can there be a detour ahead?

We Aren’t There Yet

I have just finished reading Dan Albert’s wonderful history of the car, entitled “Are We There Yet: The American Automobile Past, Present, and Driverless.” I recommend that you spend some time with this excellent work of social, technological and cultural history. As I read, I was struck by two significant facts. First: car makers make … Continue reading We Aren’t There Yet

Rat Running, City Streets and the Urban Grid

Here in our city, we live on a street that is a prime conduit for zooming rush-hour traffic attempting to avoid congestion. The phenomenon is called rat running, and we have some pretty fast rats. We yell at the drivers, we write letters to the City, we try to organize our neighbors, but the street … Continue reading Rat Running, City Streets and the Urban Grid