Americans Prefer Sprawl-Light

NYT columnist David Brooks compares the dreams for a more compact, less car-dependent lifestyle of many urban planners with the findings of a Pew Research poll on the types of communities Americans want to live in, and they are not like Amsterdam.
February 17, 2009, 2pm PST | Irvin Dawid
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"One dream many (urban planners) share is that Americans will give up their love affair with suburban sprawl and will rediscover denser, more environmentally friendly, less auto-dependent ways of living."

Brooks notes that the "economic crisis has devastated the fast-growing developments on the far suburban fringe. Americans now taste the bitter fruit of their overconsumption."

"Some (urban) writers are predicting that Americans will move back to the urban core. They will ride more bicycles, they will ride more bicycles, have smaller homes

America will, in short, finally begin to look a little more like Amsterdam."

"The Pew Research Center just finished a study about where Americans would like to live and what sort of lifestyle they would like to have.

Americans still want to move outward. City dwellers are least happy with where they live, and cities are one of the least popular places to live. Only 52 percent of urbanites rate their communities "excellent" or "very good," compared with 68 percent of suburbanites and 71 percent of the people who live in rural America.

The folks at Pew asked one other interesting question: Would you rather live in a community with a McDonald's or a Starbucks? McDonald's won."

Thanks to Allen Tacy

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Published on Tuesday, February 17, 2009 in The New York Times
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