Building Cities That Work

Building Cities That Work

Copyright Date: 1992
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    Building Cities That Work
    Book Description:

    Using Jane Jacobs' critique of postwar city-building as a starting point, Fowler shows that recent North American urban development has been characterized by development projects on a massive scale, an indiscriminate use of vast areas of land, and an increasingly evident homogeneity. These are characteristics, Fowler argues, of a perverse and unnatural way of building that is wrecking the planet and enfeebling our social and political networks.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6279-0
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Tables and Figures
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xiii-2)
  5. CHAPTER ONE Postwar City Building from Above and Below
    (pp. 3-26)

    In an astonishing transformation of the landscape, North Americans have built, or rebuilt, an entirely new urban environment since World War II. The title of a 1963 book on urban and regional planning,Man-Made America,reflected the spirit of the times. One careful study in Canada found that one-third of the country’s dwelling units were less than ten years old in 1975. In 1985 in the us, fifty-three percent of housing had been built since 1960.

    This chapter has two parts. The first half outlines in broad terms the nature of the postwar revolution in urban development in North America....

    • CHAPTER TWO The Economic Costs of the New North American City
      (pp. 29-69)

      As succeeding chapters will show, costs need not be measured in dollars. But North Americans love dollars and they are easy to count, so costs are more likely to be measured in dollars than in anxiety units or pounds of garbage. Although I hope to transcend narrow fascination with economic causes and effects (often called economism), this chapter considers some of the economic costs of the new urban environment in conventional economic language. The point is to show that even through the economic lenses with which we usually view — and justify — our urban environment, it is an awesomely expensive form...

    • CHAPTER THREE The Social Consequences of the New North American City
      (pp. 70-98)

      The physically reality of the new North American city influences our social life in ways we are just beginning to understand. The postwar explosion of the suburbs, for instance, was more than just a shift in housing type towards single-family units or in location towards the periphery of the city. Suburbanization was a social process as well, with social values as antecedents and social behaviour as its consequence. The debate over the suburbs is a good background to a consideration of the overall social meaning of deconcentration, segregation of land use, long blocks, and large areas of new development.


    • CHAPTER FOUR Children
      (pp. 99-114)

      Children are no different from adults in this important respect: they want to be where the action is. This is a natural and healthy predisposition which ought to be encouraged.

      Our cities discourage children from mingling with the day-to-day activities of adults. In this sense, urban form reflects a dominant cultural belief that because children are different they need to be separated from adults until they are old enough to cope with the “real world.” It has not always been this way. Our culture has only conceived of children as special and vulnerable within the last two centuries.

      In fact,...

    • CHAPTER FIVE Politics and the New Urban Environment
      (pp. 115-136)

      Politics is distasteful to many of us. We know that it deals with important matters, but getting involved or even interested seems to take a great effort. In this chapter, my aim is to show how politics is indeed built right into the patterns of our daily lives; that is, we cannot escape being political, but we can - we must - be part of an authentic politics which flows naturally from a healthy connection with each other and with the environment. I define what we currently call politics, suggest what politics ought to be, and briefly describe the functions...

    • CHAPTER SIX Why Did We Do It? Explanations for the Postwar Urban Environment
      (pp. 139-177)

      It should now be clear that the North American built environment is not simply extravagant in terms of money; its unreasonable costs include disturbing and decidedly unhealthy effects on our social and political life.

      Why, then, was such an environment built?

      Answers to such a question can only be tentative and partial, although many of the authors I have consulted seem fairly confident of their conclusions. The real purpose in outlining even a few of them is to try to become more aware of ourselves — of attitudes and patterns of behaviour which we take for granted — and of the less-than-obvious...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN Basic Assumptions
      (pp. 178-198)

      The purpose of this chapter and the next is to suggest what we, individually and in small groups, can do to promote a saner built environment. Some concrete examples of what some people have done will be given in chapter 8. However, these people’s behaviour presupposes a significant shift in values. They have questioned and found unsatisfactory some basic aspects of our value system; they have also realized how those aspects inform choices we make in everyday life, and that the choices have produced the built environment we have. For now, I want to explain the nature of the old...

    • CHAPTER EIGHT Our Cities, Our Selves
      (pp. 199-222)

      We have come a long way from city building, it seems. Yet the problem with the design of urban spaces outlined earlier in this book can be traced to basic beliefs about physical reality and to untested and dangerous assumptions about economics and politics. These beliefs are powerful in part because they have become expressed in the physical shape of the metropolis. They are powerful because so many of us hold them. And they are powerful because we are unaware that we hold them.

      On the other hand,weare powerful because we are able to change our beliefs. There...

    (pp. 223-228)
  9. Notes
    (pp. 229-268)
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 269-290)
  11. Index
    (pp. 291-315)