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Über dieses Buch

In this volume, the author looks at why and how Americans are shifting toward a more human-scale way of building and living. He shows how people are creating, improving, and caring for walkable communities. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Starting conditions differ radically, as do the attitudes and interests of residents. To draw the most important lessons, Langdon spent time in six communities that differ in size, history, wealth, diversity, and education, yet share crucial traits: compactness, a mix of uses and activities, and human scale. The six are Center City Philadelphia; the East Rock section of New Haven, Connecticut; Brattleboro, Vermont; the Little Village section of Chicago; the Pearl District in Portland, Oregon; and the Cotton District in Starkville, Mississippi. In these communities, Langdon examines safe, comfortable streets; sociable sidewalks; how buildings connect to the public realm; bicycling; public transportation; and incorporation of nature and parks into city or town life. In all these varied settings, he pays special attention to a vital ingredient: local commitment.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Introduction

Abstract
Janet Finegar was talking about the park in her neighborhood, and it was beginning to sound as if the park were a member of her family, maybe a precocious son or perhaps a daughter who was a musical prodigy. “My beloved child,” Finegar said more than once when describing Liberty Lands, a two-acre park that she, as much as anyone, had created from a wasteland of industrial rubble.
Philip Langdon

Chapter 1. Big City, Intimate Settings: Center City Philadelphia

Abstract
I became fascinated by Philadelphia long ago for the simplest of reasons: in my youth, I was a Pennsylvanian to the core. I was enthusiastic about the state’s beautiful topography, proud of its industrial accomplishments, and eager to learn its history. I grew up in the opposite corner of Pennsylvania from Philadelphia, first in Greenville, a manufacturing and college town where my father was city editor of the local newspaper, and then, after he died at age forty-seven, in the Erie area when my mother remarried and we moved in with her new husband. I remained in northwestern Pennsylvania through graduation from Allegheny College in June 1969. Five days later, I started my first full-time job, as a reporter for the Patriot-News in Harrisburg, 250 miles to the southeast.
Philip Langdon

Chapter 2. Creating Gathering Places: The East Rock Neighborhood, New Haven, Connecticut

Abstract
Since the early 1980s, my wife and I have lived in East Rock, a New Haven neighborhood that discovered ways to create the “third places” advocated by Ray Oldenburg in his illuminating book, The Great Good Place: Cafes, Coffee Shops, Community Centers, Beauty Parlors, General Stores, Bars, Hangouts, and How They Get You Through the Day. Oldenburg, a sociologist at the University of West Florida, had grown dissatisfied with daily life in his Pensacola neighborhood during the 1970s, and that led him to wonder whether people were feeling the same frustrations in other communities across the United States. In the book that resulted, published in 1989, he concluded that “for some time now, the course of urban growth and development in the United States has been hostile to an informal public life; we are failing to provide either suitable or sufficient gathering places necessary for it.”
Philip Langdon

Chapter 3. Keeping the Town Center Vital: Brattleboro, Vermont

Abstract
On trips in the 1990s to a cabin in the Vermont woods, I used to pass through Brattleboro, a town of 12,000 on the hilly west bank of the Connecticut River. What most impressed me about Brattleboro was its downtown. Main Street, the spine of the business district, looked busy and intact; it seemed as if this long-settled community, a dozen miles north of the Massachusetts line, had somehow been exempted from the decades-long withering away of American Main Streets.
Philip Langdon

Chapter 4. The Walkable Immigrant Neighborhood: Chicago’s “Little Village”

Abstract
City neighborhoods often take on new identities as one population moves out and another moves in. Little Village, on the Southwest Side of Chicago, has gone through changes of name and population more than once.
Philip Langdon

Chapter 5. Redeveloping with Pedestrians in Mind: The Pearl District, Portland, Oregon

Abstract
In 1992, the Atlantic Monthly sent me to Portland, Oregon, to find out how that city, in a span just short of twenty years, had turned a run-of-the-mill downtown into one most appealing in the nation. At that time, the city’s population had risen to 446,000 and was growing nearly 20 percent per decade, and Portland was on its way to becoming the star of American urban planning.
Philip Langdon

Chapter 6. Patient Placemaking: The Cotton District, Starkville, Mississippi

Abstract
In 1995, when I was news editor at Progressive Architecture, the magazine published “The Placemaker,” a story about a determined man who had spent most of his adult life building up a neighborhood in Starkville, Mississippi, that he called the Cotton District. Marilyn Avery, the article’s author, observed that the Cotton District “appears to be a historic neighborhood with its combination of traditional architecture and finely grained urbanism—the kind of neighborhood where wealthy families tend to reside over many generations.” She pointed out, however, that the district’s buildings were in fact largely “designed and built by one person: Dan Camp, a former shop teacher with a personal interest in architecture and urban design.”
Philip Langdon

Conclusion: Toward Human-Scale Communities

Abstract
In the previous chapters, we looked at six walkable communities and at what makes them satisfying places to live. Those examples might help you see ways to improve your own community. From my own experience and from observing neighborhoods, towns, and cities around the country, I have become convinced that places organized at the pedestrian scale are, on balance, the healthiest and most rewarding places to live and work.
Philip Langdon

Backmatter

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