Ghetto-ization: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Density

At first glance, the historic Ghetto streetscene in Venice is an appealing new urbanist community. In another place at another time, the virtues of compact, walkable and dense were the very isolation we now abhor.

1 minute read

March 15, 2010, 12:00 PM PDT

By Charles R. Wolfe @crwolfelaw


The Ghetto in the Cannareggio section of Venice became the namesake of overcrowded and segregated urban neighborhoods around the world. Yet, at the same time, from its roots in the sixteenth century to the present, the Ghetto has featured the compact, dense, walkable core–the type is fancied as the antidote to sprawl–with qualities central to mainstream urban reinvention today.

In this narrated photoessay, Seattle's myurbanist gives a brief history of both the Ghetto and critics of new urbanism, and suggests that with attention to sustainable urban systems and context, a cautionary placemaking can avoid polemics, be mindful of desired outcomes and avoid the irony of social outcomes of historic compact, walkable and dense communities.

Thanks to Chuck Wolfe

Sunday, March 14, 2010 in myurbanist

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