Why Public Spaces Are Crucial for 'the Future of the Human Race'

Jay Walljasper chronicles the decline of lively public spaces in the era of "rampant traffic, proliferating privatization, heightened security...and the internet," and human kind's existential need for protecting and expanding the public realm.
September 12, 2012, 2pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Though essential "for human exchange, upon which our communities, economy, democracy and society depend," public spaces have been under threat from a host of sources for the past century. For Walljasper, "The decline of public places represents a loss far deeper than simple nostalgia for the quiet, comfortable ways of the past." As "the starting point for all community, commerce and democracy," he argues, "the future of the human race depends on public spaces." 

With the help of eminent Danish Planner Jahn Gehl, Walljasper goes on to describe how successful public spaces work, and why they matter. They also examine the myriad examples of cities that have revitalized themselves upon a foundation of great public places.

"People are not out in public spaces because they have to but because they love to," Gehl explains. "If the place is not appealing they can go elsewhere. That means the quality of public spaces has become very important. There is not a single example of a city that rebuilt its public places with quality that has not seen a renaissance."

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Published on Sunday, August 5, 2012 in On The Commons
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