A Warning to Americans about Their Urban Planning

By James G. Garrison. James G. Garrison is a principal at James G. Garrison Architects . | The Christian Science Monitor, September 7, 1993 | Go to article overview

A Warning to Americans about Their Urban Planning


James G. Garrison. James G. Garrison is a principal at James G. Garrison Architects ., The Christian Science Monitor


JAMES KUNSTLER'S "The Geography of Nowhere" is a tirade against modern city planning and mass production in the style of Tom Wolfe's "From Bauhaus to Our House" - caustic, strident, and thoroughly enjoyable. It is a chronicle of the destruction of America's natural and, in particular, manmade landscape and a partial prescription for its salvation.

We don't have to look far to see the proof of Kunstler's premise, whether it is the decline of inner-city neighborhoods, the clear-cutting of forests, or the uncontrolled sprawl of suburbia. This book recounts the history and nature of American capitalism, political policy, and real estate development as it has affected the natural and urban landscape. Its premise is that Americans have created an inhumane, energy dependent, and unsustainable environment.

One of the most interesting chapters of this book concerns the use of the planning grid to lay out Manhattan's streets and avenues and property lines on the Midwestern prairie. The planning grid's great benefit has been to logically set out regular boundaries for the ownership and development of private property. The grid's great detriment is its uniformity, for it reduces the city to a series of equivalent and indistinguishable parcels. Where the grid is spread over the prairie, it pays no attention to hills and streams while it gives rise to towns and settlements that look strangely dislocated.

Planning a city with a grid is the opposite of historic town evolution, whereby accommodation to the natural features of an area gives a city a distinct character and results in a harmonious coexistence with the landscape. The examples of this include many cities and towns of great beauty, such as Rome with its seven hills, the medieval hill towns of Tuscany, or the cascading white Moorish villages of the Spanish hillsides. But the grid ignores the individual character of landscape and cultures.

The great demon of Kunstler's book is the American automobile industry as it conspires, in his view, with the political and economic establishment to eliminate mass transit and encourage the growth of the automobile-bound suburb. The history of this development is a fascinating story, and its consequences are the real drama of the book. Kunstler contends that the expense of the automobile culture in terms of machinery, infrastructure, and fuel is too great for a world of diminishing resources. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

A Warning to Americans about Their Urban Planning
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.