February 22, 2020

The Future of Cities

“When asked what they like most about a city they have visited, almost no one answers: “The cars whizzing by on the streets.” Cultural attractions, the people we meet, walking through the city and gazing at plazas, buildings, and places—these are the things that make a city unique.

What if there was a way to get more of what we all like and less of the noise and congestion we don’t? Many cities are working towards that goal, by closing major streets to traffic and opening them up to people.

Cities have limited space, and how it is allocated is tremendously important for people. The denser a place, the dearer each square foot is. Yet all over the world, cities were retrofitted to accommodate cars, giving them an outsized portion of urban space and limiting the area in which people could walk, sit at cafes, or play games with friends.

Many cities in America are newer than those in other parts of the world; most were born before cars but expanded tremendously afterwards. This wasn’t the case in Europe, where centuries of settlement made it difficult for the continent to fully succumb to the automobile. In the postwar era, European cities could have followed America’s lead in designing around cars. Most, however, made very different choices.”

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