But others appeared to accept it as inevitable and somehow normal. Until, in September of 1996, I read an article in The Atlantic by James Howard Kunstler.The article was drawn from his earlier book, The Geography of Nowhere, and previewed his forthcoming book entitled Home from Nowhere.
In that piece, Kunstler articulated all the private feelings I had been harboring about urban sprawl, often in sustained and delightful runs of purple prose.
Underneath his impassioned writing style, however, lay a solid analysis of the effects and drawbacks of functional zoning and automobile dependence.
In fact, this objection is anticipated in the fourth paragraph of the Charter: “We recognize that physical solutions by themselves will not solve social and economic problems, but neither can economic vitality, community stability, and environmental health be sustained without a coherent and supportive physical framework.” Good urban form is best thought of as an enabling condition, not an all-determining factor. New Urbanism has also been criticized as a pointless exercise in nostalgia, a futile attempt to turn back the clock to the quaint towns and neighborhoods of yesteryear, when in fact the future marches on, inexorably, to bold new experiments in oddly shaped glass towers, massive superhighways, and electronically assisted automotive transportation. Lewis reminded us in Mere Christianity, “We all want progress.
Others have criticized New Urbanism because many new developments built along its principles occupy higher price points in the real estate market. The high prices, however, reflect the level of demand for such places. In response to this claim, I can only point out that what comes later in time does not always represent true progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be.
When asked by outsiders where they lived, people rarely named their town anymore.
They just said, “Orange County.” It didn’t seem to matter where you lived, as long as you were reasonably close to a highway and the TV reception was good.
Some hold that it subscribes to a version of “architectural determinism,” as if getting the physical form of cities right would somehow guarantee a well-functioning human community.
I have yet to meet a new urbanist who holds such a view.
I arrived in LA at , picked up the rental car, and quickly got on the 405 northbound. And there were miles of heavy traffic still in front of me.