Just after the close of World War II, the last Great Migration in the United States — the move from the city to the new suburbs — began to emerge, fueled by new roads, low congestion, and modest energy costs. It was a new beginning, a chance to shake off the past, and it came complete with the promise of more privacy, more safety, greater proximity to nature, and easier financing.
Not surprisingly, Americans bought in.
After that, it didn’t take long for the preferred retailers to do likewise, abandoning the city and following their customers to the suburbs. The suburban single family home on a large lot became synonymous with the American Dream.
Like my anniversary, family birthdays and selected holidays, the Congress for the New Urbanism is an annual ceremony that I faithfully attend. My lovely wife would confirm that I never question the necessary time and money spent to participate in the congresses. And, as expected, I thoroughly enjoyed my time at CNU 19 in Madison, Wisconsin, even though I had to leave a couple days in…
PlaceShakers takes a very literal step off our comfortably beaten paths of urban design, zoning reform and community resiliency today to focus on, as the software industry calls it, the “end-user experience.” Despite, or perhaps because of, having no vocational connection to placemaking at all, explorer / spelunker / observer John Watts offers up some poignant reminders of why our work towards endearing — and enduring — human-scaled places is so important. For today, certainly, but ultimately for tomorrow.