Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A tale of two cities

It was the best of times, with family-friendly walks... or was it the best of times, with car-friendly roads... As the Christian Science Monitor notes, it's a tale of two cities:
As US population grows inexorably toward 300 million, there are two visions for the future of American towns and cities. Although very different, each seeks to create a sense of community, a sense of place where none existed before.

One focuses on downtown areas - often run-down, sometimes left as polluted industrial "brownfields." This new kind of urban renewal is seen in places like the trendy Pearl district in Portland, Ore.

The other vision - the most dominant one - is found among the tile-roofed homes mushrooming outward from the nation's fastest-growing city, Gilbert, Ariz., a Phoenix suburb. As recently as 1970, there were fewer than 2,000 people in this former agricultural town once called the "Hay Capital of the World." Today, the population is some 180,000; it's projected to peak above 300,000.
We're creating two different types of communities. The first nearly demands walking and public transportation; the second takes the opposite route, requiring cars just to survive.

I'm not a fan of sprawl.

And this notion of competing plans isn't unique to the USA; our neighbors to the north are in the same boat. The picture with this post is from Downtown Markham:
Over time, Downtown Markham will grow into a lively city centre, abuzz with activity day and night.

Downtown Markham will be defined by international stores and local shops, gourmet restaurants and intimate caf├ęs, a variety of urban parks and a majestic river valley, entertainment day and night, beautiful residences and state-of-the-art commercial buildings all within a short stroll of each other.

On 243 acres in the very heart of the Greater Toronto Area a lively, mixed-use urban downtown is emerging! It will reflect all that we love about the great city centres of Europe and North America.

Finely appointed condominiums and urban town manors will take their place comfortably within walking distance of the best restaurants, sophisticated retail brands, and office buildings that cozy up to sidewalks.
Sprawl or new urbanism: what does the future hold?

Photo credit: Downtown Markham. Residents are just a stroll from all of the attractions of the downtown core. In Downtown Markham there are no single-family homes, only townhomes and mid-rise condominiums. This provides the density necessary to justify pubic transit while respecting the Markham's existing small-town flavour.

No comments:

Post a Comment