Rachel James speaks with historian Jennifer Gray about the impact that Disney's "particular brand of nostalgic, comforting architecture and urbanism" has had on the way people experience the city and professionals plan for it.
"Less radical than incrementally progressive" when seen in the tradition of traveling carnivals and permanent amusement parks, Disneyland was nevertheless pioneering in its marketing and design, and particularly in its "architecture of reassurance," says Gray.
Although Disneyland's sentimental architecture is easily caricatured, Gray believes that Disney's approach to the physical and socio-political aspects of urbanism have been more profound. "Disney
amusement parks create an expectation among visitors that cities should
be immaculate, apolitical, highly ordered spaces populated, for the most
part, by people not unlike themselves."
"In recent years Disney-urbanism has colonized authentic cities," notes Gray. "Urban
entertainment districts such as South Street Seaport in New York,
Quincy Market in Baltimore, and Harbor Place in Baltimore are good
examples. South Street Seaport conveys the impression of a once-active
seafaring culture, but without the messiness of a functioning seaport –
the smell of fish, working-class dockhands, clamoring fish mongers.
Instead we find national retail and restaurant chains like The Gap and
Concludes Gray, "[d]espite the fact that Disneyland is not a city but an amusement park,
Karal Ann Marling points out that it does ask the right questions: 'What
should the city look like? And who or what should be in control?'
Perhaps we just need different answers to those questions."
Norman, Oklahoma Eliminates Parking Mandates
The city made a subtle, one-word change that frees up developers to build parking based on actual need and eliminates costly unnecessary parking.
Boston Transit Riders Report Safety Concerns
Almost three-quarters of current and former riders report feeling unsafe while using MBTA services.
Boston to Begin Zoning Code Update, Mayor Announces
It’s been nearly 60 years, but the city of Boston is finally ready to do a comprehensive rewrite of its zoning code.
Proposal Could Mandate Sidewalks as Part of Seattle Complete Streets
Almost a third of the city’s neighborhood streets lack sidewalks.
San Francisco Supervisors Punt Housing Ordinance
After hours of public comment, the zoning reform package aimed at increasing housing production and limiting red tape was delayed for further discussion.
Pittsburgh Launches Adaptive Bike Share Fleet
The new bikes include a recumbent bicycle and a front-loading cargo bike.
City of Stonecrest
City of Grand Junction Police Department
HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research
Mpact: Mobility, Community, Possibility
National Capital Planning Commission
City of Culver City
Salt Lake City Corporation
This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.