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New Mexico is unique because of the abundance of anthropological, archaeological and cultural sites within its borders telling the stories of its history, he said. The village of Ruidoso has a stake in the mill and argued for its nominations to the historic registries, he said. Placement also opens up the possibility of help in rehabilitation, planning grants and compliance with life-safety codes, specifically mentioned is damage from fire.
That help does not obligate private owners or require future public access, he said. Being architectural significant, telling a story about the community, its citizens, the economy or its founding are important consideration. You need a good architect, planning and manager. The old mill probably has more potential now than before.
Delana Phillips Clements, the daughter of Carmon and Leona Mae Phillips, who operated a gift shop in the old mill while she was growing up, welcomed a crowd of long-time supporters of the mill to the celebration. For the program, she invited descendants of the original owners and the Wingfield family, who chose Ruidoso as their home and dedicated their lives to seeing it grow into a respite for those fleeing hot desert and plains temperatures.
Her mother grew up in Ruidoso, attending a one-room school house. Her parents decided to buy the lot with the mill and what is now a car rental business. They watched carpenters build houses, then built their own with photography studio in front and dark room. When they knew Delana was non the way, they cleaned out the old mill, restored the grill grinder and wheel, and turned the structure into a gift shop for 55 years. The gift shop was closed in , and the mill became a staging area for theater, art exhibits.
She was proud to provide the spec for the community events, she said. We need your help. What can we recreate. The Gray Panthers, the venerable activists for the rights of senior citizens, have attacked the federal government for creating "severe accessibility disadvantage" in highway-dependent development.
Those concerned with the "graying of America" plan o nly for life on the road. Suggestions evolve. Create larger signage. Change colors and directions, advocaces suggest. Road strips have widened from four inches to six. These are palliatives, however. The prescriptions never include look ing at the source of the problems: the single-minded way of mobility-the private car. Why not instead pre scribe the creation of housing within a walk of the old corner store? We are all temporary drivers.
Our access to the world is fragile. A broken ankle, a sprained wrist, poor hearing or vision can render any one of us immobilized. Caught I was. The answer was clear, of course. A person with dementia should not drive. Or was it? In fact, a society that handicaps walkers or denies public transit's survival inevitably drives the mentally inept and the physically impaired to take the wheel.
Medication stabilizes many people.
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When producing without a car becomes impossible, a productive life becomes equally so. Drunk drivers menace themselves and society. It is the need to drive that makes a night of drinking deadly, they assert. Contemplate the success of the new rools to punish deadbeat dads. By revoking licenses, officials force recalcitrant fathers to pay their debts quickly. It is a long way from the notion of author-planner jane Jacobs, whose eyes on the street" spoke of civil neighborhoods, to today's talk of roughneck " bus riders, teen crime, and car wars in the empty wastelands of America's parking lots.
The Radu. The call to community formed by an intimacy with one's surroundings and neighbors dwindles, and civic values fade. Such lack of social space, social controls, and mobility narrows us in infinite ways. Here, the civic scout-the doorbell ringer, the political signature gatherer-has no access. Bolts, security devices, car codes, and guards keep out the uninvited. Delivery trucks, guests, and even residents have trouble gaining entry. Four private watchmen stand guard at one such development, Bear Creek in Seattle. Private streets and private sewers, private lives remote from the communal needs of civic caretaking, isolate Americans.
Ten others were seriously injured. Fifty times the Odyssey, eight times the travels of Marco Polo, how many hundreds of rimes the walks of Leopold Bloom? And with what density of experience, what learned in his 78, mile journey? For what deprived sensibility? For what homogeneous experience? The car, a longtime generator of the drive-in, drive-out fast-food restaurant, is scarcely the sole villai n in the growth of Kentucky Fried Chicken now KFC and Taco Bell, but it is an accomplice.
Why can't we step back and see the servant become master? The analogy with the automobile holds. The world through the windshield and the world through the television window alike isolate us from our surroundings. Be still our restless hearts. Look past the romance of the road and we wi ll see that mobility has vanished completely for the third of the nation that cannot legally drive-those 80 million Americans who do not operate automobiles because they are too old, roo young, or too poor.
St ep back and observe, and the minority becomes an oppressed constituency, while even the majority appears harassed by the vehicle It Car llut from which it supposedly benefits. Read ahead to see the degradation of the landscape and cit ys cape, the debasement of our environment and health, and the erosion of our personal and national economy by the car culture. Access for All w as the title of a pioneer plea for human mobility two decades ago. Today's s e quel should be called Access for Whom?
Neighborhoods like Chicago's Lawndale are blighted by both the car's debris and the auto-oriented policies thar empty cities. You see them every day. They are women, people of color, the elderly, the disabled, the poor. In larger cities 60 percent of mass transit riders are women, and 48 percent are African-American or Hispanic, more than rwice their number in the population.
The car culture has thus become an engine of inequity, raising high the barriers of race and class. Transportation that is difficult at best, nonexistent at worst, darkens their lives in myriad ways and adds to the financial and social inequity they suffer. The tales, often horror stories, multiply, high among them a blind colleague's harrowing trip when the bus he was riding in Phoenix broke down, depositing him by the highway to take the long walk home.
In Vail, Colorado, downtown merchants rejected buses al together, voting down a sales tax for transportation to carry their resort workers home. Being physically relegated to the back of the bus ended with the civil rights struggle. But those symbolically relegated to the back of the bus become second-class citizens in a mobile society. Hank Dittmar, director of the Surface Transportation Policy Project, pur ir in historical perspective: "Some 40 years ago, Rosa Parks sparked the greatest social change of my lifetime by refusing to sit at the back of an Alabama bus.
Or sh e might find that people of color were the only passengers on the bus. Paul Auster draws this view in his novel Leviathan. A car-dependent one underscores and enhances the divide with a lack of mobility. Some of the most affluent Americans own no automobile.
It is that a society that shorts public transportation in favor of the private vehicle deprives the poor of any other way to move. Then he pauses. Now devoid of its former shipping, the racially mixed neighborhood 49 percent African-American, 41 percent Hispanic, 8 percent white is the quintessential stockade of the auto age. Red Hook overlooks Manhattan, yet it could be the longest trip in New York for some 13, inhabitants, says Philip Kasinit7. To get from the farthest parr of the project or beyond demands an :u extra cwo bus stops. Unsafe without a car, public housing residents may stay out until six or seven in the morning to avoid the trip home in tbe dark.
The highways that destroyed the neighborhood caused its emptying. The low-income inha,bitants lack money to buy a car and hence find work, and, thus, the neighborhood deteriorates further. It is a cycle. For forty years two out of every three new jobs have been exported to the suburbs. Funds have gone to roads, not bus or rail; to private homes, not walkable city apartments; to corporations in the distant svburbs, not inner-city industry. Carless city dwellers get handcuffed ro home and hence cur our of rhe workforce.
While the world perceives poverty as a result of carlessness, it is dependency on the car that is the culprit. You have the community over there. Transportation is one of the overlooked arts in economic development. A man offered a job tip to a woman friend as they stood waiting. The job seeker responded with just one question: "How close is it to the bus? Byrd also recalled the case of a factory looking to relocate near the U. When the would-be builder looked at a site in a Latino community, he saw a highway. A wonderful highway it was, he told Byrd, the ultimate in accessibl i ity But he shook his.
No one would stand at the bus stop on the street outside the project. No one would provide a transportation feeder to circle into its threatening maze. Fear of the streets, bad weather, distance, and sporadic service made the bus a bad t ri p. In the end, poor transport does not issue from poverty, but lies at its very roots and sustains and perpetuates it. The less fortunate can neither flee nor adjust to them with flexible work hours, telecommuting jobs, or the extended arm of the cellular phone.
A "c once nt rat ion of poverty and de-concentration of opportunity," as Hughes phrases it. Together, they sued the transit authority for class bias, discrimination against people of color, and malfeasance. A year later New Yorkers addressed the transportation equity issue by protesting steeper bus and subway fare hikes for urban versus suburban commuter rides.
The Urban League and Straphangers' Cacmpaign filed an antidiscrimination suit charging "class warfare. Sometimes subtle, sometimes blatantly biased location policies pit budgets for sleek transit lines like Metro in Washington, D. Advocates from other cities have rallied to correct the problem of the racial injustice involved. In a world bereft of decent public transportation, the rich and poor grapple for fragments when they should be allies against automobile dominance. Maps from the Bureau of the Census show an overlap-"sparial coincidence" in the jargon-of households in poverty, female-headed households, and households without an aut omobile.
With the weekend curtailments of mass transit, they're scarcely served at all.
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The pursuit of services, shopping, movies, or health as well as wealth is onerous. A Boston City Hos pital report recording dropouts from a prenatal care program cited transportation as the pati e n ts' singl e largest complaint. Richard J. She didn't drive to the hospital. She rook one or two buses there.
Not only jobs but also services, health high among them, are out of reach of those without transportation. Fully two-thirds of the 8. In Southern California, homes with two or more cars rose from 7 to 70 percent of households in the past four decades. Those served by public transit trod water at 4 percent, the study Efficiency and Fairness on the Road: Strategies for Unsnarling Traffic points our. As a result, one car serves every three poor people in Los Angeles, compared to the national average of one for every single man, woman, and child.
Elsewhere, the situation is comparable. Those with the most money travel the most. Those with less travel less. Subsidized, car-based segregation by race and microsegregation by economics has heightened plantation politics, perpetuating urban poverty. The misappropriation of moneys to the car culture plays our in rural America too.
Poverty-stricken West Virginia, for example, shows how the car culture afflicts the rural landscape. Since World War II auto-centric policies have eroded the nation's public transportation agencies, now receiv ing one government dollar for every seven handed to the car. In the end our t ransportat ion triage undermines the poorest cohort of the country; it helps create the underclass that impoverishes, erodes, and segregates the larger nation.
Split llidlln, Split Soci8ty Following a bus stop shoot-out by teenagers in the parking lot of the Trumbull Shopping Park, the mall owners prohibited the inner -cit y buses that deposited them there. The problem is th e people in " Trumbull don't want blacks and Puerto Ricans coming to their mall.
Who else uses these buses? Despite the insistence by the lawyer for the transit district that stopping bus service would violate the constitutional rights of assembly and equal protection under the law, ser vi ce was c ut. In this case Washington's Metro said no. The forty-year-old b us stop mall that officials would shut was the nexus of sixteen transit routes where some two thousand riders transferred, many of them immigrants. The blight and traffic they cause, the ceaseless noise and fumes, sack the weak. The visual detritus of the motorized world is dropped on their doorsteps.
Their mean streets hold the repair shops and car washes, the spray paint services and tire marts, the muffler stores, auto parts dealers, and glass vendors. Body shops, used car lots, and parking lots are their neighbors. It is these precincts of poverty that endure the abandoned gas stations, old garages, and vacant lots. It is the poor and communities of color who are bombarded by toxic "hot spots" loading residents with pollutants. Car and bus emissions--carbon monoxide, particulate matter, lead deposits-sit on their stoops.
While the poorest levels of society suffer from roads, highways erode the living standards of those less far down the ladder. As frail neighborhoods crumble in the shadow of the highway, they lose their property value and tax benefits. The area surrounding the Cross Bronx Expressway, which slices through several neighborhoods, is typical.
The "mess" was discarded tires, refuse, litter, wild plant overgrowth and corruga ted cardboard boxes that spilled across a community ravaged by the highway at its edge and the arteries jutting everywhere. The coalition's suit claimed that the proposed freeway violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of , which prohibits discrimination in any federally financed project. Since 90 percent of the interstate was to be paid by the U. The road, with a very few concessions to the community, was on its way.
Images of dinosaurs decorate the trim brick houses and "Stop Barney" bumper stickers appear on cars. Again in the mids, however, a fateful document came out of the drawer and onto Federal Highway Administration and public works drawing boards.
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This time, however, fearful ciry highway engineers tried a public relations ploy. Instead, they took the neighborhood's green space. Hiring their own researchers, the activists made still one more discovery: they found that the road would not only hurt the district streets, but cause still more traffic and chaos, congesting the city by throwing extra vehicles onto Indepen de nce and Pennsylvania avenues and bringing still more cars to the neighborhood it would supposedly protect. Herman took me along the "senseless" route. Such routes are not sense less to those who use them, of course, only to those whose vulnerable neighborhoods they traverse.
In turn, higher prices make finding a paying job more arduous and add to such blight. Ra cist redlining i s compounded by the proximity to freeways, the scourge of abandonment, and highway and housing policies that nurture suburban lifestyles. No matter that the poor are particularly ill served by car-oriented policies, they pay automotive taxes along with those well served. In New York City, for instance, low-income households drive one-fifth as many miles as wealthy ones.
The gas, excise, and other taxes they pay, much of which go to the car are the same percentage, however. It is typical that the poor pay sales taxes, gas taxes, and other subsidies for highways while they drive the least. But he is equally humanistic as he sees one car per household in his neighborhood, and "many times, these cars are up on blocks," awaiting service. Deprived of regular, reliable service, burned with more fa ll ibl e, less safe, older vehicles, the owners are too poor to give proper care or buy insurance.
If, as officials claim, 10 percent of old cars exhale 50 percent of our pollution, those with less money for repairs send more such toxins into their own environs. With almost a third of Americans recorded in central cities at the last census, the fate of the destitute and the prosperous nation that enfolds them are enmeshed.
Some 35 percent of the needy inhabit the nation's thirteen largest cities, and the car-sacked landscape encircling them has reinforced their segregation today as it has for the three decades since hisrorian so Car Blat Robert Fogelson explored the taproots of the Los Angeles Watts riots in Fragmented Metropolis. It was not wealth per se that bothered us in the Reagan-Bush era of mushrooming millionaires but the fact that "the wealthiest 20 or 30 percent of Americans are 'seceding,' " as Labor Secretary Robert Reich has observed. There are no neighborhood walks. Quarantined by the car culture, we barely notice that the privacy of the automobile leading to the detached suburb at the end of the highway has created the malaise of the good-hearted.
Social inequality, Kaus writes, "is at the core of liberal discontent. Public space is where the principles of equality of citizenship rule. But public space, the stage of social life, is destroyed by our auto-oriented design that nullifies walking and intermingling. All of the same breeds fear of the other, and the everyday intercourse of public life, the plural, multicultural world of a civil society, vanishes.
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Who doesn't, indeed? The poor in spirit, the ignorant and frightened. All of those rendered unfeeling by the car's banishment of the diversity, the street life of urban America. Crime reigns when such meers are empty. Incivility stems from lack of public space. A pathetic figure, he attracts my gaze.
The vet's dog, caked with dust, is a "good prop," says my otherwise humane friend behind the wheel. Compassion fails in the antiseptic ambience of the automobile environment. No sweat. No sight of the poor. Does this privatism, this death of shared space, breed the death of common concern regardless of race and class?
Does ir account for the death of public life? Certainly the car and the single-use suburbs it serves breed the solitary parrern that makes us lose what yet another critic of the social order, Ron Powers, has called the "last great place. The mall cafe is our vacuous symbol. No public realm here. I remember a sign I saw next to a shopping center. Places that "revoke" their publicness revoke our citizenship. No city can be revoked.
No true community can be a private way. The mall is that kingdom's moated castle. Not according to the mall owner. Why on earth, one might wonder, does any state need such a law. No stray "loiterers," thank you. Entry is at the disposal of the private owner and patro lled.
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Keep out Salvation Army Christmas kettle bearers. Keep out picketers at malls across America. Keep out those who don't look quite right. The rules are written for owner and occupier alike. Compounding our fligh t from the poor, the gated community off the road insulates access and shrinks pu b li c space srill further. The tyranny of its own majority reinforces ho moge neity. Heritage Hills, a condominium development in Westchester County, north of New York City, barred the school bus from trave li ng through the comple x.
Can it be less than meaningful, then, that, as auto sales boomed in the s and s, Woodstock Nation evolved into Cocoon Country? Somehow, the agony of this traumatic split in mobility is ignored. It was written by a data consultant waving the flag of personal freedom as the frontispiece of the Nationwide Personal TTansportation Survey.
Doesn't the reality of an immobility register on his screen? Ask the poor, ask rhe carless, ask rhe old and rhe young with an estimated 80 million Americans in just these rwo last categories. Ask rhe Americans denied mobility and access to the system altogether. Ask the 9 percent of households who have no car.
Ask yourself, your friends, your family. Do they see strides in these decades of rampant motorization? The saying goes that a good society rakes care of irs people at the three most critical rimes in rhe human cycle: in rhe dawn of life, in the darkness of life, and in the twilig ht of life.
A car-based society c r i pp l es all three-those in the dawn of life, the young; those in the darkness of life, the poor and disabled; and those in the twilight of life, rhe elderly. We are all young once and will all grow old. At one rime or another in our lives, we are majority and minority alike. We suffer ourselves and, in the circle of caring, suffer yet again when those we care about are hurt by a car-dependent society.
Leather furnishings. Sophisticated climate control. It's enough to make your house jealous ofyo11r garage. It should be of the hill. Belonging to it. Taliesin, "sbining brow," he called it. The master architect was scarcely noted for his modesty. Wright did not defer to nature from reticence but from a sense of the natural order of the landscape.
Wright called his architecture organic. The Southwest's cold season is warming to spring, and the desert blooms make the most of the coming cycle, with color hued to sunnier days. The feathery paloverdi, the saguaro, and the teddy bear cacrus pose as if awaiting the camera crews coming to shoot the site for Wright's latest canonization. The stone and wood and glass of his home and studio are of this place.
When we scan the surrounding settlement that has evolved since the late s, though, we see a vastly altered view. Here, a new kind of suburban desert emerges thrusting Taco Bells and Super-pump gas stations onto the landscape. The corridor of road taking us back to Phoenix is congested, the buildings to either side helter-skelter and charmless.
A one-story antique mall sits across the Tarmac from a child care stop, next to a Wallpaper joe, split from a storefront chiropractor. All are disconnected and unreachable on foot. Wright himself loved fast cars and single-family homes. He plotted what he called his Broadacre City Plan of for the suburban dream, a scant five hundred houses per square mile. Multiple lane highways make travel safe and enjoyable," the architect imagined. The private home on the endless road. No headlights, no light fixture No Glaring Cement roads or works No Slum.
No Scum," the architect wrote. No encroach ments, no menace. Wright's vision of the highway shaping the city seemed benign. How, then, would the master have dealt with the consequences of his plan in today's servitude to the four-wheeled vehicle? Though Wright's scheme of living was a departure from the tight-meshed city, it had order and grace. His was a bucolic Eden, the "scum" extinct. What, then, would the architect have said of the new kind of scum, the scum of sprawl, his harmonious living gerrymandered by the quest for life behind the wheel. This desert of strip islands is, in fact, post-Wright-but wrought by him.
It is what critic Richard Ingersoll has called "the Darwinian adaptation of motorized humanity. You took a right by a landmark and into a gravel road. It was rutted. There were dry creeks, arroyos and such. There was just nothing at all. Just barren desert. Thirty m iles at its widest side, Phoenix is about the length of the nation's most populous city and more than two -thirds its width.
Here, the rush to inhabit the land off the exit ramp after World War Il hoisted the population of this Sunbelt city from , to 1 million by the mids, depleting land and settling newcomers in promiscuous disarray. The ratio of human beings to asphalt environs explains the formless spread of motor ized America, removed from the urban and suburban design of th e past.
Phoenix represents the new architecture of the car-bred generation, Arizona planner Marc Fink has written, looking for acceptance. Its contrived language of place contradicts any search for manifesto or identity. Chockablock with more parking spaces than people, Phoenix is a fit icon of America's architecture of the exit ramp. From afar I had read of the city's architectural achievement and hoped for an exemplar. And so, I take her instructions and head out to see the park decked above the highway and some walls decorated by artists in the public art program, where t he "highway and landscape have begun to enter into a new civic partnership," as I was told.
Elsewhere, the colorful clay pots shown in photographs shrink into picturesque miniatures when placed in this gray wasteland. How could such fragments work in a municipality so scattered that even sensible plans to alleviate the ugliness or create a center seem puzzling. On another a ft ernoon I visited Roger Brevoon, a pr eservation planner. Housed aloft in the new City Hall with its adorned plaza, he narrated the origins and recent growth of Phoenix.
The city had barely begun building a downtown when the s sped motorists out to the periphery, he said, leaving in its wake a few downtown art deco buildings and a nearby neighborhood of cozy bungalows. The sidewalks that predated the car's dominance were lined with upstretched palms. The snug, lolling blocks created a haven. From the "center" of the city, I joined Michael Cynecki, a traffic engineer, to visit the periphery.
Dedicated to quieting the local streets, this advocate for more walkable neighborhoods drove me along the arterial. We rode by Phoenix's far-flung neighborhoods. The looping cui-de -sacs had become so heavily impacted by the traffic created by their layout and distance from commerce, their tranquility and safety so assaulted, that even this laissez-faire community voted to limit access by cars. The measure has worked for safety, Cynecki said. Someday funds may alter the contours permanently and gracefully, Cynecki hopes.
For now the barriers are a reminder of the atomized urban design of this Southwest city. They are more a testament to its ill-planned growth than a positive solution. Can growth last? It's not without its cost," she went on. An "edge"? Both at once? How can something be a city a core and an edge a fringe. The phrase is self-contradictory, even silly. And, if not edge city, then what? What does one call the architecture bred by the automobile? The word mavens have been hard at work to find an appellation. And others who study the built environment expand the terms.
The mind fails to conceive what the eye cannot see. A generation ago, planner Kevin Lynch's classic definition in his The Image of the City posited a place where visual form reinforced memory and served as symbol. Now, for the first time in history, design capitulating to the car has killed off such images, along with aspirations for place making. How can you mold, shape, make habitable the buckshot disarray of all those malls, minimalls, strip malls, corporate malls, housing malls?
How can there be any ur ban desi gn manifesto when motion dominates and development is promiscuous. Life in a walking city cushions the slights of the auto age. Towers, adrift in plazas, rose, while historic structures fell. To be sure, Boston's pedestrians are notable r notorious-for thei r assertive stance against the automobile.
On foot, Bostonians bully the car. Even in this walking hub, however, the s boom years saw the motor vehicle create a subc it y of g arages and parking lots, gnaw the sidewalk, and slick the city's surfaces with oil. Garage doors and black hole entrances lacerated the street. Tourists and shoppers could barely cross its circling arterial. Cars whipped by, free way st yle.
A sidewalk entrance was rare. A few blocks away, the state's new Transportation Bu ild ing was similar. Pedestrian passage has become a walk on the wild side. I have watch e d this deference to the automobile in worse ways across the continent. Time after time, I have witnessed environments become asphalt encrusted as the urge to hold the cars of shoppers or homeowners has taken primacy.
The numbers are comprehensible. At rest, the automobile needs three parking spaces in its daily rounds-one at home, one at work, and one i n the shopping center. In motion, going thro ugh the ritual of ro-ing and f ro-ing, driving along the street, circling th rough the Cullul garage to reach that parking space, it needs more. The space for the car's entering, the radius for irs turning, and rhe dimensions for its sitting idle mean that asphalt comperes for space with architecture a nd wins.
Put more mathematically, in an office building handing our one parking spot for every employee's automobile-that's to square feet per car, plus aisles and access lanes-adds square feet per driving employee to the actual structure. Zoning and building codes insist on ever more space for ever more cars at home. Instead, form follows parking requirements.
From 30 to 50 percent of urban America is given over to the car, two-thirds in los Angeles. In Houston the figure for the amount of asphalt is 30 car spaces per resident. The more distant suburbs are rougher to assess but worse. On the outskirts, mall lots, defined by the needs at rhe most jam-packed periods of shopping at Thanksgiving or Christmas, stand empty much of the year.
When pavement dominates, other axioms flow as inexorably as concrete. Too often, that means its poteorial as a parking lot. If "the car should be a servant to the city," as one transportation official pur it, its uncapped appetite has made the city dweller a slave. In the suburbs it is worse. There, a clutch of cars occupies the first floor of an apartment building, raising the residential quarters on stilts above a ghostly cave of cars. Angled parking before the front of a minimall ruptures the sidewalk for pedestrians.
Just after my return from Phoenix, I was asked to moderate a panel on the new design modes of the day. A former mayor of Minneapolis and a Cleveland developer were to discuss the evolution of these latest, and arguably largest, gestures of modern architecture. The Mall of America outside Minneapolis suggested defining it by size. As big as seventy-seven football fields, this "Vatican of Consumption" is the epitome of gigantism, so big inside that managers had starred giving identification bracelets co young children so chat they wouldn't gee lost, so large outside that parents needed the same help to find their cars.
Yet, an overview showed highways funneling into the "new form," and a press release informed me chat its two and a half acres of underground truck docks were designed co assist in receiving and removal. They formed a series of bigger-chan-ever boxes bound by asphalt. Whether the Mall of America, with its theme park designed co appeal to the mentality of shopping till you drop, o r Cleveland's happily more urban site still orchestrated t o "cake m e out 88 CuBlal to the ball game," the car dominated the entry and parking dictated the design. The most mean-spirited and common highway megaproject was not on our agenda, however.
The Wai-Mart or Home Depot could not survive without the roads that wind through the countryside and the asphalt encasement to hold the customers' cars. The form, the moonscape of the superstore parking lot, reflects its function grimly. This windowless packing crate, barely camouflaged, displays the spatial appetite of the automobile, just as surely as its upscale kin. The landscape of Main Street might as well have been the victim of a pogrom in terms of midth century storefronts," writes critic Richard Longstreth. The conglomerization and franchising of the nation have played a role.
Yet, it is the interstate and arterial that nullify the natural topography and draw buildings from their Main Street identity. When cities become car warehouses, architectural civility shrinks. Like edge city, car-based design is an oxymoron. As the speed and the search for parking became the Holy Grail, the urban axiom has evolved: easy to park, hard to live; easy to live, hard to park.
Anton Nelessen calls planning for the ped estrian the "DNA of design. A car and its access, as noted above, demand square feet when standing, when moving at 30 mil es an hour. In commercial terms ea ch s hopper takes 70 times his or her floor space to drive and park the car. On the public as well as the private level, we plan for the latter. Federal policy reinforces the desolation downtown. Local policy in the form of zoning or codes insists on superscale parking, undermining walkability still more. Displacing the walker with the architecture of the exit ramp has destroyed what planner Peter Calthorpe defines as an aesthetic of place.
A n auto-centric environment is th e antithesis of all four. The pace is that of a seventy-mile-an-hour driver viewing only land-blurring backdrops and featureless boxes. And the bounds of the road are, in fact, boundless and amorphous. While architects theoretically do deference to the classical goals of "firmness, commodity and delight," uttered by the ancient Roman Vitruvius, the Hippocrates of architecture, highway architecture eradicates the creed.
I got directions to reach a new assisted-living home in a compact older neighborhood with nearby shops, mass transit, and apartments. The entry as the architecture's welcome mat, the grand door or arch, has diminished. Later I visited Las Vegas to see another Sunbelt city dealing with an architecture of the auto that ignores the walker. It became a seminal text on buildings as billboards. It is not only on the gambling strip. The billboard on the strip and the billboard of a simpleminded high-rise facade or broad box borh stem from the homogeneity of the view from the road. Liebs described the recrure for view through the picture windshield that accompanied the view from the picture window as the post-World War II auro hoom began.
The drive-by style still monopolizes. Blame an age without the craft 10 soften bigness with detail, if you will. More than style is lost in planning that puts the automobile first. Urban movement on foot and a lively streetscape are at hazard. On a Las Vegas comer, as the cars condense into a moving mass of steel beneath the foul air, you can see the less flashy effects of building for the automobile. There may be more foot traffic here than at most American intersections, but crossing the street is an ordeal.
Traffic makes walking between the Roman orgy of Caesar's Palace and the less trendy gambling halls a menace. The tourists, hardy souls, wanted to cross. The restless crowds edged out into the shiny stream of cars. It seemed interminable. We waited and waited A minute or two more and the traffic sign's walk light flashed.
Then the race was on. Trapped together, midpoint, on this concrete island, we watched the cars collect. I began to count. We " waited again. The woman, too, rolled her eyes 10 heaven, or to the god of the gaming tables. There is a pedestrian bridge for those unwilling to take the shorter route de- 70 Cullat scribed above. Designers have revived the older downtown too, with a pedestrian mall complete with laser show faux sky.
Ot her plans have emerged to accommodate the nation's largest influx of people, five thousand newcomers a month. From to the city grew by ,, and as the residents moved in each month, the land of blackjack dealers and croupiers became a touchstone of rapid growth and development. Created by Summa Corporation, Howard Hughes's real estate firm, the community encompasses twenty-six thousand acres in the vast sweep of desert heading west from Nevada toward los Angeles. Even in this hub of affluence, the ponderous houses selling for half a million dollars form an arc, cheek by jowl, around a golf course.
The: porch is long gone, the tree is hostage to the driveway. The construction of this "carchitecture" begins benignly. A snip and a swath of asphalt wounds a vintage community like Queens's Sunnyside, with its neighborly housing fronted by tidy lawns and sidewalks, as parked cars chew the front yards. Again, Cahhorpe de. The pedestrian daunted by the hostile streerscape takes to the car. Deprived of life, the street is widened and demeaned. The ills accelerate. The community moves inside; children play behind closed doors. It is not that people give up on the street. The street gives up on them.
The gated communities, fortress facades, windowless environments of an asphalt nation ensue. The walled, or gated, community is the most blatant isolationist expression of motor-minded America. Concentrated in America's new Southwestern and Western suburbs, some 30, such luxury encampments secure Americans, bolting the nation's chariots and their drivers in a house-fortress wrapped by walls and manned by guards.
And so need for security becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Locked and barricaded by devices that range from moats in Boca Raton, Florida, to a hydraulic device that shoots metal cylinders into the tires of invading cars in Santa Clarita, California, this defensive architecture is penetrable only by car. The street is the community's living room, public space our stage t o live our lives as neighbors. Buildings enframe these settings. The porch, the gate, benches, lampposts, curbings, all scaled to the walker, invigorate our steps in urban and suburban life.
The sidewalks of the time were richly textured by the buildings that encircled and enlivened the encounters of street life. Ornament reigned. Once, the porch was the apron of the house. So it remains in neighborhoods where the flow of traffic or daily life allows. The stoop of row house life shared this sociability. It was the stone ladder for games of ball, the right-angled throne for doll playing and chatting, the launching pad for feisty politics, the backdrop for the weekend tag sale. To this day the stoop remains aU of these.
When the automobile intruded on human intercourse, older forms of architectural discourse declined. The garage and driveway consumed more sidewalk. Transition places vanished, along with the street as public space. Wide streets, treacherous intersections, and fast cars blurred our view and corrupted our built environment. Details vanished.
Instead, the traffic engineers' goosenecked forms and elevated poles create a tunnel down the road to nowhere. Light, the fabled definer of architecture, the agent of comfort, security, and sense of place was altered Raised high above the sidewalk tO benefit , the parking lot, not the pedestrian, distant, mechanical light stalks shoot toward the skyline, not the street. Across the continent the highways' omnipresent wattage does one more thing: it deprives us of our view of the stars. A mall in the form of an urban environment, it tries to capture city streets down to the chewing gum embedded in its surfaces.
Shop by shop, it replaces Los Angeles's icons with mock-ups-here a copy of a familiar health club stands next to a copy of a delicatessen. For all its walkability, this fabricated city is entered by motor vehicle through a garage, isolated from the street, private and homogeneous as a mall.
And yet, even the vestige of urban life and urban density encourages crowds to jam into the faux streets of Disney World. The role of professional planners is to sweep up and organize the dung. But is it too stern tO describe the subdivisions, the robotic malls, the instant Edens and theme parks where genuine public space succumbs to an uncivil substitute? In its place the giganticism of the interstate reigns.
Speed replaces civility in the auto age. A Tlaj MaJW lar the Maturar So much for landscape architecture as well, I think, as I take my last voyage in search of the real thing, heading to what one writer has called the "corporate palace par excellence. It is the only place in America where "going outside for a puff" means having a run, not a cigarette, and architects and landscape architects have worked to plant the message of good health and good design.
Nike's banner-lined eighty-foot walkways straddled by lagoons greet visitors like a shrine. They form a processional to the classical palace on the corporate "campus.
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The trai I rolls up and above the campus, descends by a road, and passes a ture preserve. Dollar chits for "running, biking or skating" encourage walkers to shed the internal combustion machine. The Portland Metro light-rail will arrive. Somehow, however, the imperial path seems window dressing. For what is this processional anyhow, the supposed walkway and entry to this Shangri-la of sneakers? The true gateway, like that of City Walk, is auto based. Its twelve-hundred-car parking lot is the actual front door of this one-use, drive-to world of containerized campus architecture.
There is no orientation around the walkable transi t line to come. At the Haverford Arboretum in Pennsylvania, landscape architect Bruce Kelly, known for his careful refurbishing of New York's Central Park, approached me one spring day shaking his head as he tried to describe redesigning a New Orleans park. The parking's asphalt gash defined the planting program; notions of tending the greenery or design were an afterthought. One, two, three, four exits, they duly noted. We counted more than eight, as I recall, while driving in the outskirts of Albuquerque, that sprawling noncity.
The higher the number of exits to a place, the less likely a true place would be there. It wasn't accidental. The high ratio of highway and ramps to a center inevitably made for centerless sprawl. Whose fault is it, I have wondered, watching the planners in my own town try to design the visible element of their late auto age highway and tunnel. It is the last link in the interstate, I'm told, and sinking the so-called Central Artery in Bosron will do two things. And i t will relieve the mammoth "Green Monster," the artery separating the city's waterfront from its downtown.
W11l it be? Architect Hubert Murray was optimistic as he proceeded to show us the ultimate in highway based design one night. How to give "clarity, safety and orientation to the driver" and "accommodation, meaning and sense of place" to the neighborhood was his aim and theme. Then there were the views of piers and viaducts: would they be calumned or severe? And the tiled walls of the tunnel co the airpart: IJ deckcd with planes or abstract patterns? Not to be. Only a red stripe one way, a blue srripe the ocher, scored the walls co mitigate the millions of white tiles 10 rhe tunnel.
As for the vent shafts tO shoot the car emissions above U! The view of spreading, spiraling exit ramps and the landscape uamenity" of a grid of giant red-leafed trees marching like Briush grenadiers down the middle of an asphalt wasteland didn't wilt. She was dismayed that the curve of nature would be ruled inco the Euclidean geometry of the road. Murray spoke of it all with enthusiasm.
Was his seven-year stint worth it? I asked. That was the political paradigm," he continued. Do you participate or stay on the sidelines? Years d. Even Murray had his doubts about its civility that day. The highway's conquest of habitat depletes resources, destroys plant and animal populations, and assaults the environment. Its terror has been accepted as a fact of modern war-almost as ifit were a sacrifice of war. Schneider, Autokind vs.
Mankind ''One errant Old World primate species is now changing the global environment more than that environment has changed at any previous time since the end of the Mesotoic Era s ixty five - million years ago. To an out-of-towner the notice in the lobby of the nation s most notorious polluters seemed quite casual, but it was ' te lling.
We have reckoned with the sight and smell of air befouled by the automobile for years, if not in such an offhanded way. Every time a jocular radio announcer declares a "no-breathe" day, every time we read of "nonattainment" regions-regions that have not attained air the EPA deems fit to breathe-we have testimony.
T h e automobile is not j ust a moving vehicle but also a "mobile source of pollution. The motor vehicle and i ts by products sully the earth at every - turn. As the decade began, a degree of alarm not heard in years issued from the nation's earth stewards. True, America had doubled its fuel economy and cut per-car emissions. The Natural Resources Defense Council concurred a year later that the car was "the worst environmental health threat in many U. Despite new environmental controls, reductions were down a scant 1 or 2 percent, and the car's list of pollutants was filling the Th1 Rad Ia lawlraamlnlll Ruin II graphs.
SO percent of hazardous air pollutants, and 90 percent of the carbon monoxide found in urban air. America's urge f or mobility taken to the extreme was the answer. And there was, of course one more thing: global warming. In the mids, computer modeling, while nor definitive, suggested what had looked ever more likely-an overheated planet.
Science was confirming the car culture as a culprit. Our fossil fuel vehides were not only consuming more than one-third of all U. Taken together, such gases trap heat on the planet. Sealing the warmth of the day, this lid of greenhouse gases raises the temperature of the earth. As reports emerge, fears of melting ice caps, coastal flooding, and potentially devastating climatic change grow. With every roll of the rubber wheel, with every spit from the nation's tailpipes, the thermostat spins. The earth's climate is endangered, and the aberrant weather persists to warn us of the threat.
Such emissions are the most conspicuous and potentially cataclysmic piece of the toxic pie. Agencies offer wedge charts for ozone precursors-the chem- Car IIIII 82 icals that rise from the earth, mingle with the sun, and create smog. With our eyes sky bound to the gray wash over the blue horizon, we neglect a holistic appraisal of the impact of the motOr vehicle. From the start of its production, through its traveling on the road, to the final disposal of its fluids and parts and its related path along the highway-not to mention the highway itself-our automobiles take an enormous toll.
The energy to make them, the smelters that pour out their toxins, the trucks that dump the wastes of their heavy metals-our mining, refining, and framing of the automobile and its infrastructure-alter the earth. Auto paint shop or auto factory, oil refinery leak or asphalt runoff, the automobile's abuse overruns our capacity to record it.
Sit in your car and brake for a traffic light. From the CFCs in the foam seat that cushions you to the asbestos in the brake pads beneath your foot, you are driving a pollution machine. The Nature Conservancy's project manager tells me why. But the bigger question is, What blinds this organization to the fact that it is consorting with a major annihilator of its land conservation?
Nor is the Nature Conservancy alone. The practice of accepting car advertisements is widespread. Bicycling or environmental magazines that would not dream of running cigarette commercials sp rinkle their magazines wit h glossy motor ve hicles pois ed in the natural wonders they abuse. It already is, and perhaps that accounts for its invisibility.
Wrapping the nation in In built-up areas we devote more la nd to our cars than to our homes. We have "planted" a vast as phalt monoculture since World War II, a blanket of concrete as big as Rwanda. Almost any aerial view shows massive freeways, ramps, and int er chan ges swad dlin g acres of land. The antithesis of a healthy environment, this slathering of con- C. From the road slashed through a hill or gully to the coiling ribbon that rolls from sprawling house to house, the highway disrupts habitats and abets erosion.
Tackling the poisonous residue of the military age was nothing, the manager told an attorney from the Conservation Law Foundation. The same failure to see the sabotage of the car culture emerges in the rush to create a "clean" car or a "green" car. Forgetful of battles against nuclear energy's so-called clean fuel, they strive for a mythic "zero emissions" vehicle, barely heeding the counterwarning that emissions elsewhere are inevitable. Tllo Ra.. How could they reduce its waste products? Halt its b ad habits? Coal tired? Hyd rogen fueled?