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The Page Avenue Extension

Missouri Highway 364, more commonly known as the Page Extension, does not lay within the St Louis city limits. Just a few miles of it are even in St. Louis county. And yet it stands as a prime example of state and federal policies that is working against urban renewal in the city. Before I go much further, let me state that I am an avid user of the highway and the associated bridge.

The highway was originally planned back in the 80’s and a history of the project can be seen here along with an overview here. At that time there were three bridges connecting St Charles Co. to St Louis, I-70, US 40, and the Rock Road. Of the three only I-70 was a high speed travel corridor. US 40 had traffic signal intersections and the Rock Road dumped into the City of St Charles. Since then the Rock Road bridge has been torn down, I-64 has been extended along 40, and 370 & 364 have been added. This gives drivers four high-speed choices to cross the Missouri river, for a combined sixteen lanes of traffic. Upon completion of the Page extension project, it will extend almost to the 70-40 interchange in Wentzville. Drivers originating in Wentzville and beyond will have four different ways to get into St Louis Co without a single traffic signal.

What purpose does this road serve? Anyone who has driven on it can easily answer that question. It gets workers living in St Charles Co to their jobs in St Louis City and Co. The morning rush hour has a large flow of vehicles into St Louis with barely a trickle going the opposite way. It is reversed for the evening rush hour. On the weekend it is used so sparsely, I doubt most drivers would notice if the bridge was not there. Therefore, almost the entire purpose of this road is to make it easier to work in St Louis and live in St Charles.

All major projects need funding. The first phase was funded partially by Congress in the Pipeline Safety Act of 1992. The second phase, currently under construction, is getting a large chunk of funding from the recently passed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. This money was added to the pot of cash already provided for by the state to make this new artery possible. And this is where the project becomes a policy debate. Lawmakers in Jefferson City and Washington deemed it necessary to spend state and federal dollars to make it easier to not live in St Louis if a person has a job there.

People were migrating to St Chuck as part of white flight before all the new concrete was laid the last two decades. How many would continue to move out there if it was not so convenient? This convenience will hamper any efforts to revitalize the city, like the planned Northside development. For that development to work it needs to attract a large population of people living in the suburbs. Relocating people already living in the city would be zero growth and no new tax base.

So we have a government working against the city. Until that changes it seems liked the deck is stacked against urban renewal. That does not mean it will not happen, just that until there is a policy change it is going to be harder than it should. The solution to the problem leads to a conflict of interest. Lawmakers would need to make it inconvenient to live in the far flung suburbs. Their constituents probably would no longer support them and no lawmaker wants to work themselves out of office. I have no idea how to get lawmakers to do what is better in the long term as opposed to what will get them re-elected. And I do believe increasing the number of quality urban walkable neighborhoods is better in the long term.

– Kevin McGuire


Sullivan Place Still Horribly Suburban/Disconnected

With details of Paul McKee’s NorthSide emerging there is concern he will bring suburban design to the city.  But developers have been doing that for years — often encouraged by elected officials that don’t get urbanity.  Three years ago I reported on one such suburban project — Sullivan Place.  I started the piece:

Pyramid, the company proposing a highly suburban McDonald’s for South Grand, has dumped an atrocious housing project on the city’s north side. Forget the high-profile loft projects downtown, Pyramid is making a name for themselves with suburban rubbish throughout our once urban neighborhoods.

Full post from March 18, 2006: Pyramid’s Sullivan Place Senior Housing An Anti-Urban Monstrosity.

Nothing much has changed except the fact that Pyramid collapsed in April 2008.   Oh yeah, the project can now be seen in satellite views via Google Maps:

[From Google Maps]

Gee, can you figure out which structure is Sullivan Place?

March 2006

Makes me cringe.   It borders 3 streets but doesn’t relate to any of them.  I’d love to see McKee’s project take this heep and restore the street grid.  The project gets its name from the street that was closed — Sullivan.  We are likely stuck with this place until it falls apart.  See my 20+ photos of Sullivan Place from March 2006 here.

Update 6/10/09 @ 9:10am — Headline alaborated.


Walkability Must Become a Priority for the St. Louis Region

I love multi-story buildings built up to the sidewalk.  If these buildings have clear windows and doors at the sidewalk level the are inherently more walkable  than others.  I recognize, however. this is not for everyone.  But that doesn’t mean walkability needs to be tossed aside.  Most drivers like the option of walking.  Development can be both non-urban and walkable.

This is the story of one part of suburban St. Louis County that was close to being minimally walkable, not ideal but minimally.  But it falls short of even being minimally walkable.

Source: Google Maps

The area is around the Sam’s store at I-44 and Big Bend  (map link).  The Sam’s is obviously the big box in the bottom right corner in the above map image.   Out at Big Bend is a Hardee’s.  The other out parcel to the left of the drive is now occupied.  This is all in the City of Crestwood.  The left side of the image is in the City of Kirkwood.

As you can see a sidewalk runs along the edge of Big Bend Road.  Along one side of the drive into Sam’s the sidewalk extends into the development.  So far so good.  Except it doesn’t really work.  For sidewalks to be useful to the pedestrian they need to go door to door.

Say you live in the apartment complex on the left side of the above image and you want to get lunch at Hardee’s, then a few things at Sam’s? Would you walk or drive to each location?  Sadly this environment, because the sidewalks are mere decoration, is designed for driving only.

But let’s put  the destination closer.  You live in one of these apartments and work in the building on the other side of the fence.  It would be silly to drive.

Leaving your apartment complex your only option is the auto driveway — no sidewalk from your front door to the public sidewalk.

Once you’ve arrived at the top of the hill you can them step out of the auto drive and onto a public sidewalk.

Turning into the development you can see the entrance to your workplace but the grade difference and the fence block yuor direct route so you continue downhill.

Here you get to pretend, once again, that you are a car because you weren’t provided with a sidewalk to get you to the door. Now you decide to walk over to Sam’s on your lunch break.

Nice, you are just dumped in the parking lot.   By now you are thinking you should have driven.

You turn around and look back at your workplace.  You are in the middle of a Sam’s parking lot.  You, the pedestrian, have been treated like a car.  With the exception of a small part of the journey you don’t have your own space.  But of course you feel vulnerable compared to cars.   Tomorrow you decide to drive to work rather than walk.  Next time someone tells you that “nobody walks” in the suburbs this is part of the reason — it is not designed to accommodate walkers.  Sure, an employee that lives miles away is not going to walk.  But even the close proximities are hostile to the pedestrian.  The apartment developer in Kirkwood is partly to blame.  So is the commercial developer in Crestwood.    It is sad that we are supposed to be among the most advanced nations yet we can’t figure out how to create an environment where a person could go to work next door without driving.



The History of Problems in North St. Louis

My intent for today was to summarize Paul McKee’s development proposal being dubbed ‘NorthSide.’  In starting to write that piece it became clear I needed to build a foundation on the origins of the current problems in North St. Louis. So today I take you through decisions from the 20th century that got us to where we are and tomorrow I’ll give you my thoughts on McKee’s proposal.

North St. Louis has many great streets, buildings and people.  But it has as many streets that are largely abandoned, buildings barely standing, vacant lots and criminally minded youth.   It is known more for the latter than the former.

Above: North St. Louis property in August 2007
Above: North St. Louis property in August 2007

When I moved to St. Louis in August 1990. at age 23, I was told not to go North of Delmar Blvd. — the long dividing line between white and black St. Louis.  I ignored the advice, however well-intentioned,  from the 50-something apartment manager and went North of Delmar.  The following year I moved to the Old North St. Louis neighborhood.  But how did this dividing line come to exist?  For the answer we need to start way back in 1917.

Harland Bartholomew came to St. Louis in 1916, at age 27, after working briefly in Newark, NJ as an employee of civil engineers E.P. Goodrich & George Ford.  Bartholomew was the first municipal planner in the country.  Yes, St. Louis was the leading edge for planning at the time.  Of course, planning as a profession was just getting started.  The 1910 Census was 557,238.

Upon his arrival Bartholomew located his family in a relatively new house on Goodfellow near Page (map).  Although within the city’s limits, it was very suburban relative to the older parts of the city near the Mississippi River.  His 1917 report, The Problems of St. Louis, shows his dislike of the older sections of the city surrounding downtown.

Above: 1917 book, click to view book

From the above:

The problems of St. Louis are briefly as follows :

(1) Restoration of districts wherein values and occupancy are at a low ebb to a greater degree of usefulness and productivity.

(2) Perfection of transportation and transit systems to make possible the use of property within the zone of the city’s influence, now inaccessible,

(3) Extension of the city limits, or power of the city, to secure greater uniformity and permanency of  development.

(4) Provision for public works and service sufficiently far in advance to preclude undue delay and excessive expense.

The problems then are still the problems today.  Bartholomew spent the next 30 years telling the city how bad the older areas are.  Bartholomew, for example, convinced voters to approve fund measures to widen many streets which involved cutting off the fronts of many buildings, see The History of the Ubiquitous Building Setback Line.   Jane Jacobs in her 1961 classic The Death and Life of Great American Cities called such funds “cataclysmic money.”  The Census count was 772,897 by 1920, 821,960 by 1930 and, a down a bit to 816,048 in 1940.

In 1947 Harland Bartholomew, now nearly 60, authored the Comprehensive City Plan which considered much of the city, North & South, “obsolete” or “blighted:”

1947 "Obsolete" (black) & "Blighted" (red) map.

In the above image North St. Louis is on the right.  Delmar runs top to bottom a bit right of center.  Clearly much of the city, mostly white, was labeled obsolete & blighted.  But what did that mean?

Obsolete Areas

Present obsolete areas must be cleared and reconstructed. This is a social necessity as well as an economic essential. The City of St. Louis cannot continue to thrive and prosper where there is nothing but progressive decadence in its housing supply, any more than is could with polluted water supply or smoke laden air.

The unit area for reconstruction must be the neighborhood. It is necessary to create a new environment. This can be accomplished only by large scale operations. Obsolete neighborhoods must be rebuilt, not merely with houses of good design and construction, but with more open space, more park and playground facilities, a good school and community center.

The new Constitution of Missouri authorizes cities to clear obsolete areas and to sell or otherwise dispose of the property, as well as to replan, reconstruct, or redevelop such cleared areas. The new Constitution also authorizes the General Assembly to provide by law for partial relief from taxation for not to exceed 25 years for projects designed for the reconstruction or redevelopment of obsolete areas. A newly enacted Urban Redevelopment Corporation Act now provides for substantial tax relief for reconstruction projects. It should make possible considerable large scale reconstruction.

The Legislature has not enacted legislation which will permit St. Louis to undertake public housing projects of the type heretofore financed with Federal funds. Such legislation is imperative if St.Louis is to participate, as do other American cities in any future Federal public housing programs.

Present high costs of building construction together with rent controls preclude immediate reconstruction of obsolete areas, either for public or for private housing. As construction costs become lower the city must be in a position to encourage wholesale reconstruction of these obsolete areas. This can be achieved by public acquisition of land so that it could be made available for housing and other needed purposes if private acquisition and construction fails to accomplish the needed results. The total cost of clearance would scarcely exceed public expenditure during the past 25 years for other types of public work such as streets, sewers and airports. Unlike these, however, ownership of the land would be a sound investment. The land could be leased or sold, and much if not all of the expense involved could be recovered by (1) elimination of the present $4,000,000 annual deficit, (2) a long-term increment in taxable revenues on private housing projects, and (3) participation in Federal subsidy programs.

Plate Number 15 is a suggested plan for reconstruction of two extremely obsolete neighborhoods-DeSoto and Carr Neighborhoods. This plan calls for reconstruction of these neighborhoods, except for the present Carr Square Village, into super residential blocks with a revised street system that would recognize this block type of development and discourage through traffic; Fourteenth Street, Eighteenth Street, Twentieth Street and Jefferson Avenue would be widened while Cass and Franklin Avenues would remain as they are. Further proposals call for the grouping of commercial areas into designated shopping centers; the erection of two or three story row type apartment buildings generally except for a few multi-story apartment buildings; the erection of two new schools one east of Jefferson and the other between 18th and 20th at O’Fallon; the continuance of certain unobjectionable industries, the enlargement of Carr Park adjacent to Carr School; the development of DeSoto Park for active sports, swimming and as a community center; the enlargement of Murphy Playfield adjacent to the Carr Neighborhood on the north and the provision for landscaped areas throughout the community for passive recreation.

The effectuation of this plan would result in a good standard of housing with ample open space, freedom from multiplicity of small streets, attractive environment, small concentrated shopping areas, and a large neighborhood park and community center would replace one of the worst slums in the city. This is an area occupied by low-income families, many of whom should be rehoused here.

Plate Number 16 is a plan for the reconstruction of the Soulard Neighborhood. Some of the more important features of the plan are: the extension of Gravois Avenue from Twelfth Street to the proposed Third Street Interstate Highway, providing a direct route to the central business district; the widening of 18th Street, the widening and extension of 14th Street, the widening of Park and Lafayette Avenues; underground garages in the multi-storied apartment area between 12th and 14th; a neighborhood part of 10 acres or more complete with spray pool, community facilities and game courts; the extension of Lafayette Park to serve this as well as other neighborhoods; landscaped areas throughout the community for passive recreation; enlargement of the City Hospital area; grouping of commercial areas into orderly shopping centers and the complete reconstruction of the neighborhood into super residential blocks with a new street pattern to serve these blocks and to discourage through traffic.

Such a plan would transform an obsolete area into a fine residential neighborhood with a good standard of housing, enlarged open areas, greatly improved environment, small concentrated shop centers, and much needed park and recreation space. The new interstate highway passes diagonally through this neighborhood and could be most advantageously undertaken simultaneously with the reconstruction. This is an area well suited for families of medium incomes.

The plan sought to clear and reconstruct a vast area.  It had nothing to do with race – these areas were largely white.  It had everything to do with Bartholomew’s inability to see any value in these older areas.   Blighted districts, Bartholomew thought, didn’t need clearing but he clearly wasn’t a fan:

Blighted Districts

The blighted districts should be extensively rehabilitated before they degenerate into obsolete areas. This is both a social need and an economic essential because of high rates of juvenile delinquency, crime, and disease found in areas of poor housing.

Rehabilitation of blighted districts must be undertaken on a neighborhood basis also in order to protect environment and to create improved living standards. Because of the larger areas involved, special planning and experimentation is required. Obsolete buildings should be removed, some streets should be closed, new park, playground and recreation areas created, small concentrated shop areas established, and individual buildings should be repaired and brought up to a good minimum standard. The new Constitution of Missouri specifically provides for this type of rehabilitation. There is fully as much opportunity for private enterprise in this field as in the more spectacular large scale reconstruction housing projects.

The most important single requisite for the improvement of housing in St. Louis is the enactment of a Minimum Standards Housing Ordinance. The City Plan Commission, the Building Commissioner and the Health Department with the aid and assistance of the American Public Health Association, have collaborated in the preparation of such an ordinance which provides for:

1. Elimination of overcrowding by prescribing minimum standards of space per family and per person.
2. The number, area, and openness of windows permitting entrance of fresh air and natural light.
3. Screens on doors and windows to restrict flies and mosquitoes.
4. Elimination of basement rooms as dwelling units unless they comply with the provisions set forth in the ordinance.
5. Improvement of sanitary conditions by elimination of hopper water closets and privies in sewered areas within six years of effective date of ordinance.
6. The location of water closets and the number of persons using them.
7. Keeping dwelling units in a clean, sanitary, habitable condition and free from infestation.
8. Maintenance and repair of dwellings necessary to provide tightness to the weather and reasonable possibilities of heating.
9. Installation of flues which would permit the operation of heating equipment to maintain adequate temperature in each habitable room.
10. Adequate daylight or fixtures for artificial illumination in public halls bath rooms and other habitable rooms.

Unless and until such an ordinance has been adopted and enforced, most housing areas in St. Louis will continue to deteriorate and blighted districts and obsolete areas will reach much greater proportions than at present.

The rehabilitation of blighted areas is the No Man’s Land of housing. It is more important than reconstruction of obsolete areas. It is a field that has been completely neglected partly because it is less spectacular than large scale reconstruction and partly because the opportunities for profitable investment are presumably less than in a new development. Without a definite plan for the rehabilitation of the present blighted areas new obsolete areas will develop faster than present areas can be reconstructed. Plate Number 17 illustrates the manner in which neighborhood rehabilitation should be undertaken.

So the message was clear in 1947, these areas were going to change.  The 1947 plan added to the pressure for whites to move to the suburbs. Soon race would be another.

At the time most of these areas were off limits to non-whites.  Blacks had few choices about where to live.  One choice was The Ville, located in North St. Louis:

The Ville is not St. Louis’ earliest Black community, but it is certainly the most cherished. When elder Black folks talk of their old St. Louis they remember the area bounded by Taylor Avenue, St. Louis Avenue, Sarah Street and what is today called Dr. Martin Luther King Drive. Though embattled with middle-class flight to the suburbs, underemployment, and other ills, it remains a close-knit community of churches, schools, social institutions and residences. Fortunately, the Ville was never dominated by high-rise public housing.  (Source: Soul of America)

At the same time much of the city, where blacks still couldn’t live, was being set up to be cleared or rebuilt.  But soon blacks would be able to move beyond a few areas like The Ville:

In 1945, a black family by the name of Shelley purchased a house in St. Louis, Missouri. At the time of purchase, they were unaware that a restrictive covenant had been in place on the property since 1911. The restrictive covenant barred “people of the Negro or Mongolian Race” from owning the property. Neighbors sued to restrain the Shelleys from taking possession of the property they had purchased. The Supreme Court of Missouri held that the covenant was enforceable against the purchasers because the covenant was a purely private agreement between the original parties thereto, which “ran with the land” and was enforceable against subsequent owners. A materially similar scenario took place in the companion case McGhee v. Sipes from Detroit, Michigan, where the McGhees purchased land subject to a similar restrictive covenant. The Supreme Court consolidated the two cases for oral arguments.  (Source: Wikipedia)

The Shelley house is in the 4600 Block of Labadie (map), just a block outside of The Ville.  In 1948 the U.S. Supreme Court, in Shelley v. Kraemer, agreed that restrictive covenants are private agreements but state enforcement of them violated the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.   Blacks were now legally free to buy where they pleased. Easier said than done.  More on that in a bit.

By 1949 Congress passed the Housing Act of 1949 that funded large scale “Urban Renewal” schemes like those envisioned by St. Louis’ Bartholomew and New York’s Robert Moses.

Bartholomew predicted by 1970 St. Louis' population would pass one million and we'd live in newly rebuilt high density housing.

The 1950 Census was St. Louis’ peak at 856,796.  In  the next 20 years (1950-1970) the population didn’t pass the million mark as Bartholomew had predicted.  Instead it fell 25% to 622,236.  Real Estate agents in these decades engaged in blockbusting and steering.  They determined which streets, blocks and neighborhoods would quickly shift from all white to all black.  And although some whites live North of Delmar and some blacks lived South of Delmar the dividing line was established.   North St. Louis has come to be viewed by all as black.  As time marched on white flight was followed by black flight, leaving North St. Louis with fewer total residents, more and more who were poor & black.

Many public housing projects were built on the near South side & near North side.  The most well known was Pruitt-Igoe, which opened in 1955.  In 1956 the Pruitt (black) – Igoe (white) project became integrated.

Above: Pruitt-Igoe (click to view Wikipedia article)
Above: Pruitt-Igoe (click to view Wikipedia article)

Within a decade the 2,870 apartments were only 2/3rd occupied.  In March 1972 the first of the 33 buildings were imploded with all being demolished within two years.  Planned as the type of project to rebuild a former Polish slum, Pruitt-Igoe didn’t last 20 years.

The RAND Urban Policy Analysis Program released 3 reports on St. Louis in 1973 including St. Louis: A City and Its Suburbs: By: Barbara R. Williams.  The following is the official summary:

A summary statement of the research findings and policy implications of a series of studies conducted under the St. Louis project of the RAND Urban Policy Analysis Program. Three possible futures for the city are posed: continued decline; stabilization in a new role as an increasingly black suburb; and return to a former role as the center of economic activity in the metropolitan area. The analysis argues that without major policy changes beyond the local level, the city will most likely continue to decline, and suggests that, among the alternatives open to the city, promoting a new role for St. Louis as one of many large suburban centers of economic and residential life holds more promise than reviving the traditional central city functions. However, new resources, available to the city from sources outside the city, are essential to any improvement. Several mechanisms are offered for consideration: (1) a more substantial federal revenue-sharing program; (2) a state revenue-sharing program to support selected public goods; (3) a metropolitan revenue program, sharing revenue generated by industry in the metropolitan area; and (4) a metropolitan earnings tax.

In response local firm Team Four was hired to look at the problems facing the city:


This document contains the technical memorandum that was submitted to the Plan Commission by Team Four, Inc. in 1975. This memorandum proposed public policy guidelines and strategies for implementing the Draft Comprehensive Plan that was prepared by others. It offered a series of considerations concerning the process of adopting, staging, budgeting and ultimately implementing the Draft Comprehensive Plan. In addition, this document contains a preface dated 1976 that attempts to clean up any inconsistencies and or controversies surrounding the proposed implementation strategies and a bibliography or annotated listing of Technical Memoranda and Appendixes. Part I of this document focused on strategies for three generic area types: conservation, redevelopment, and depletion areas; and Part II of this document discussed major urban issues and their solutions. (Source: Summaries of Historical Planning Documents, City of St. Louis)

This last document will forever be known as the “Team Four” plan.  It called for a triage approach to the city.  Letting areas that are too far gone to die, focusing resources on areas that could be saved.  Increasingly this meant white areas would get help and black areas would not.  The Team Four plan was never officially adopted but many feel it became the unofficial policy of the city.  Bartholomew’s 1947 Comprehensive Plan was the last city-wide plan adopted.

The city basically stopped trying to any planning.  People continued to leave.  By 1980 the Census count452,801.  In 1990, the year I moved to St. Louis, the Census count dropped below 400K to 396,685.

In the late 1990s the city embarked on the 5th Ward Comprehensive Master Plan.

By the time the plan was adopted by the Planning Commission in March 2002 the boundaries of the 5th Ward had changed as a result of the 2000 Census (now at 348,189).  No regulatory changes were made in the planning area to ensure the plan would be followed.

In 2005 the city adopted a new Strategic Land Use Plan.  But the old zoning and land use designations remained unchanged.  New more thoughtful & appropriate ideas alluded to in this new land use plan never materialized.  We remain stuck in 1947.

Developers have been free to build just about anything anywhere they pleased.  In 2006 I reported on the project by the now-defunct Pyramid Construction, Sullivan Place (see, Pyramid’s Sullivan Place Senior Housing An Anti-Urban Monstrosity).

The decline of North St. Louis goes back farther than anyone reading this blog post.  St. Louis basically stopped trying to plan their way out of decline — perhaps the best option.  Tomorrow I’ll look at the plan by Paul McKee to reverse this long trend.


Book Review; Retrofitting Suburbia, Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs

April 28, 2009 Books, Suburban Sprawl 2 Comments

I love books.  I have hundreds of them.  Many are great resources.  But none have proved as valuable as the recently published Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs by Ellen Dunham-Jones and June Williamson ($75, Wiley).

The PR piece that came with my review copy describes the book a as a “comprehensive guidebook for architects, planners, urban designers, and developers….”  So true.  Dunham-Jones & Williamson have concisely identified the problems of suburbia and illustrated numerous real-world solutions.

The introduction does a wonderful job of explaining “urban versus suburban form.”  One example from the bullet point list:

Suburban form is characterized by buildings designed “in the round” to be viewed as objects set in a landscape they dominate; in urban form, a clear focus is on the fronts of buildings and how they line up to meet the sidewalk and shape the public space of the street.

Very straightforward, here is one more:

Suburban form tends to be lower-density and evenly spread out, while urban form tends to have a higher net density as well as a greater range of localized densities.  This is true for densities measured by population and by building area.

The book doesn’t try to convince anyone that all of suburbia can & should be turned into Manhattan.  It is about creating place and connections. The book is not so technical or academic that a lay person wouldn’t appreciate or understand the material presented.  Every elected official in every local of government needs to read this book cover to cover.

As the US population increases we need to find alternatives to just building on the edge.  As the authors show, we can infill existing suburbia effectively. Low-density single use corridors can get mixed use structures while leaving the existing single family subdivisions behind them alone.  Of course, zoning codes that created the mess we have today will need to be completely revamped.

From a recent review in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

“Retrofitting Suburbia,” a timely book co-written by Atlantan Ellen Dunham-Jones, proposes a way to turn dead malls —- as well as ailing office parks, older subdivisions and strip-center-lined arterial roads —- into lively places. Dunham-Jones, director of Georgia Tech’s architecture program, is a proponent of New Urbanism. The movement champions walkable streets, urban blocks, public spaces, mixed-use and density as keys to enduring and sustainable communities.

She and co-author June Williamson have adapted those principles to mint what you might call New Suburbanism.

The economic downturn has undoubtedly sparked some of the buzz surrounding the book. But, as the authors argue in their book, the old suburbanism is obsolete, recession or no, and for reasons that go beyond energy consumption.

Highly recommended reading for anyone interested in their cities and suburbs.

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