The conference of the California chapter of the American Planning Association took place across the street from Disneyland this week. What Disney does for fictional landscapes, planners must do for real landscapes.
“On the one hand, the there's a shocking contrast between the lifelessness of Harbor Bl. and the intrigue of Tomorrow, Fantasy, Adventure (and, of course, California Adventure, which you apparently visit if you don't like the real California but also don't want to leave California).”
“On the other hand, that contrast is likely a feature, not a bug. Disneyland came about precisely at the peak of and, I would argue, because of mid-20th century suburbanization. As the country was becoming deliberately dull and homogenous in the late 1950s, a place of excitement, escape, and, indeed, ersatz urbanism became more marketable. Disneyland promoted suburbanization in order to offer an antidote to suburbanization. The uglier [Anaheim] is, and the less pleasant that walk is, the more exciting those other -lands become.”
“Disneyland is nicer than the real world. People are willing to pay for nice, even for only a few hours. That's because, for much of recent history, in the vast majority of places, the imagination and talent has been privatized, funded, and promoted, and the public realm has, in too many cases, been neglected, starved, and vilified. The public realm doesn't get nearly the sort of attention and investment as even a few dozen acres of private realm.”
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