Following Curitiba's Footsteps

<p>Jaime Lerner's bold actions helped convince Curitiba's residents to adopt change and created a model for the world to follow -- even as the city faces new challenges to its much lauded transit and waste collection programs.</p>
May 21, 2007, 8am PDT | Christian Madera | @cpmadera
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"Back in 1972, the new mayor of the city, an architect and urban planner named Jaime Lerner, ordered a lightning transformation of six blocks of the street into a pedestrian zone. The change was recommended in a master plan for the city that was approved six years earlier, but fierce objections from the downtown merchants blocked its implementation. Lerner instructed his secretary of public works to institute the change quickly and asked how long it would take. "He said he needed four months," Lerner recalled recently. "I said, ‘Forty-eight hours.' He said, ‘You're crazy.' I said, ‘Yes, I'm crazy, but do it in 48 hours.' ""

"The demonstration worked. Within days, impressed by the increase in their business, the once-recalcitrant shop owners were demanding an extension of the traffic-free district."

"An opening salvo, the creation of the pedestrian zone inaugurated a series of programs by Lerner and his colleagues that made Curitiba a famous model of late-20th-century urban planning."

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Published on Sunday, May 20, 2007 in The New York Times
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