How Cities Work: Suburbs, Sprawl, and the Roads Not Taken

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Do cities work anymore? How did they get to be such sprawling conglomerations of lookalike subdivisions, megafreeways, and "big box" superstores surrounded by acres of parking lots? And why, most of all, don't they feel like real communities? These are the questions that Alex Marshall tackles in this hard-hitting, highly readable look at what makes cities work.

Marshall argues that urban life has broken down because of our basic ignorance of the real forces that shape cities-transportation systems, industry and business, and political decision making. He explores how these forces have built four very different urban environments-the decentralized sprawl of California's Silicon Valley, the crowded streets of New York City's Jackson Heights neighborhood, the controlled growth of Portland, Oregon, and the stage-set facades of Disney's planned community, Celebration, Florida.

To build better cities, Marshall asserts, we must understand and intelligently direct the forces that shape them. Without prescribing any one solution, he defines the key issues facing all concerned citizens who are trying to control urban sprawl and build real communities. His timely book will be important reading for a wide public and professional audience.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
What does a good place to live in America look like? Is it a teeming city like New York, a stylish designer community like Seaside, FL, or an innovative if imperfect mid-sized city like Portland, OR? Our cities, warts and all, are generating more interest than has been seen in decades. In The Regional City, Calthorpe, a leader in the New Urbanism movement, and Fulton (The Reluctant Metropolis), president of Solimar Research Corp., take a more systemic approach to urban design than has been typical of New Urbanism, best known for creating planned communities. The authors are adamant that regional cooperation and coordination is essential to sustaining healthy cities and addressing complex urban problems. Modern cities are actually linked metropolitan regions concentric rings of often decaying inner cities, older suburbs, new suburbs, and once autonomous towns that have become part of the metropolis. Through regional planning, the links can be strengthened to create a coherent city with a sense of place. Written in accessible style, The Regional City outlines a framework for planning today's cities. Marshall criticizes New Urbanism for being more about style than substance, but he acknowledges that the more it recognizes the hard truths of regional planning, the more it can become a positive force. A journalist by trade, Marshall writes with wit, reason, and style, effectively driving home his well-researched premise that cities exist and evolve based on transportation systems, the building of wealth, and government guidance or misguidance. He offers few solutions to current urban problems, setting his sights on enlightening the reader about why and how cities evolve. Marshall cites the human craving for simple solutions to complex problems and makes it clear that when people come together to plan a regional city consciously, as they have in Portland, OR, difficult choices must be made. The Regional City is essential for academic collections supporting programs in urban planning, public administration, or architecture. How Cities Work is very strongly recommended for both academic and public libraries as an excellent resource on the history and future of American cities. Drew Harrington, Pacific Univ., Forest Grove, OR Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780292752405
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2001
  • Series: Constructs Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 269
  • Sales rank: 1,014,990
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

A recent Loeb Fellow at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Alex Marshall is a freelance journalist in New York City, who has written about urban design for the Washington Post, George, Metropolis, Planning, and other national publications.
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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Sex of Cities

Chapter 1: A Tale of Two Towns: Kissimmee versus Celebration and the New Urbanism
Chapter 2: The End of Place
Chapter 3: The Deconstructed City: The Silicon Valley
Chapter 4: Trading Places: The City and the Suburb
Chapter 5: Jackson Heights: An Anachronism Finds Its Way
Chapter 6: The Master Hand: The Role of Government in Building Cities
Chapter 7: Portland and Oregon: Taming the Forces That Create the Modern Metropolitan Area
Chapter 8: No Place Called Home: Community at the Millennium
Chapter 9: Conclusion. Getting There: Building Healthy Cities

Selected References

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2012

    Officer cody pausch

    Looks at the captains grave then at the flag and then back he salutes to the flag

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    Posted May 28, 2012


    -lily walks in she puts flower on every solders grave- thank you lders for risking your lives for use. I hope you rest in peace and will beremembered forever. -lily stod there for a while- happy mermoril day. -she left-

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    Posted May 25, 2012


    Annie layed flowers on her husbands grave. "Sergent Danial Farrow". Annie burst into tears. Slowly, the soul of Sergent Farrow came up and put his hand on her shoulder......

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