Friday, December 23, 2005

The City :: Virginia Postrel

Postrel quotes from a recent interview of Robert Bruegmann:
"Living in cities has almost always been unpleasant and unhealthy-not something most people wanted. If you were in imperial Rome, crowded into dark, dingy, polluted apartment buildings, it would have been a nightmare. Most cities I looked at had just crushing density until about the 18th century."
Of course Bruegmann isn't saying cities should not be built, or that the people who live in them are making choices inconsistent with their best interests. As Postrel writes at the end of another post:
Most of the problems people attribute to L.A.'s sprawl-notably traffic and long travel times-are actually caused by its density. The same is true in New York, however defined. Forget driving to New Jersey or Connecticut. It can take 45 minutes to travel the roughly five miles from the Upper West Side to Greenwich Village, even if you take the subway. When you pack a lot of people close together, the place tends to get crowded. That's great for culture and commerce, but it ratchets up social stress and makes getting places harder.
There's a lesson here for those of us living in and around Dubai.

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