The City after the Automobile: An Architect's Vision

By Moshe Safdie; Wendy E. Kohn | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 9 Traveling the Region

Some have predicted that the dispersed city and its indispensable automobile will ultimately threaten our society's survival. Based on a premise that highly developed societies require the interaction provided by compact and concentrated cities, European planners, in particular, have argued that we must vigorously resist any further suburbanization. Our society and cities might then, with some luck and drastic measures, be served (and saved) by more affordable utilities, services, effective public transportation -- and infused with a healthy level of human contact.

Yet we must not mistake cause for effect, the means from the motivating desire. The extensive suburban migration that has created our dispersed cities is not only a response to the growth and congestion in the city center, but also a profound cultural and psychological desire -- omnipresent in North America -- for freedom, expansiveness, privacy, and flexibility. For this reason, the post-Second World War suburban thrust in North America has continued to leap-frog and extend forever beyond existing urbanization. This core motivation represents a fundamental departure from the cultural and social mindset that has sustained traditional concentrated cities in other times and societies.

"If the Pope shaped Rome and the doge Venice and Baron Haussmann the grands boulevards of the Champs-Elysées," writer

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