Check out this timely piece in the Statesman: “How an Environmental Deal Led to Austin’s Gentrification.” It speaks to the issue of unintended consequences in urban planning, and it helps to explain how Austin’s east side began to gentrify as quickly as it did.
And traffic? According to Henry Grabar at Slate.com, it depends on who owns them.
And here’s a Tesla driving around town and parking itself in full autonomous mode:
We’ll be talking about sprawl and traffic next time. As bad as I-35 can get for Texas State students, at least you’re not stuck in the unending traffic jams of Dhaka, Bangladesh.
In our discussion of traffic congestion, we’ll be looking at data from the Texas A&M Traffic Institute. Their methodology is rigorous, but not without critics, such as the number crunchers at City Observatory who have calculated a Cappucino Congestion Index.
Next idea: in some places, cities have revamped formerly car-centric roadways and areas to make them more pedestrian friendly, or to remove the cars entirely. Here’s a slide show of Google street view images showing some examples of such changes.
Regarding our discussion of the changing use of streets by pedestrians, bicyclists, trolleys, cars, etc., see this New York Times item, “The Pedestrian Loses the Way.” And then here’s an interesting op-ed from an urban planning perspective about the look and feel and sheer cultural centrality of parking lots. Next, apropos our discussion of urban highways, cities around the US are now dismantling some major roads. Finally: they’re building bicycle superhighways for commuters in Copenhagen.
Check out this Forbe’s story about the booming economy in the Austin-to-San Antonio corridor. From the article: “Local boosters suggest that this growth will transform the San Marcos area into something like other suburban nerdistans, such as San Jose/Silicon Valley, north Dallas, Orange County and Raleigh-Durham. Certainly some of the same advantages those areas enjoyed are emerging, including the growth of Texas State University (now with over 38,000 students) as a major center of higher education.”
We’ll be discussing Levittown, PA in class today. Here’s an excerpt from a 1957 documentary about the first black family to move to Levittown, PA.
Monday we were discussing the rise of the motorcar and the good roads movement of the early 20th century. Read this entertaining account in Atlas Obscura of the 1919 military convoy from D.C. to California that helped to convince Eisenhower, who went along for the ride, that America could use a better system of national highways.
After spending so much of the 20th century making America highway-dependent, sensibilities have changed and we’re now discussing removing highways in some places. See this item in the New York Times, “Once So Chic and Swooshy, Freeways Are Falling out of Favor.”
The link is not broken – click the play button.
Simmel saw this coming way back in 1903: “If all the clocks and watches in Berlin would suddenly go wrong in different ways, even if only by one hour, all economic life and communication of the city would be disrupted for a long time…” (from “The Metropolis and Urban Life”).
Check out this New York Times opinion piece in which author James Gleick calls for abolishing time zones. If he and like-minded reformers were to get their way, we in Texas would be eating dinner at what used to be called midnight.