As a lifelong urbanite, I’ve always felt comfortable learning cities “by Braille.” I put on my walking shoes and wander, making mental maps as I go. I experience serendipity, yet can generally intuit where things are likely to be – the CBD, the government center, nightlife.
This summer our family spent time in Berlin, Venice, Florence, and Paris. Of the four, Paris was the only one I’d been to before. By the time we got there, it was like greeting an old friend.
Some commentators argue that sprawl is an inevitable result of affluence, based on European development patterns. These pundits tell a simple story: European urban cores are losing population and becoming more automobile-dependent - just like American cities. So if Europe can’t beat sprawl, neither can America.
WARSAW, Poland --I'm on my fourth city in a two-month excursion, and so far I've found all the quaintness, density, pedestrian life, and vernacular architecture that I was looking for as an antitode to my beloved, loathed Los Angeles. The cores of Riga and Vilnius come right out of proverbial fairy tales, and even Helsinki, though historically torn between Sweden and Russia, has plenty of the best trappings of Boston and San Francisco (as well as some of the worst of Atlanta or Dallas; more on that later).
Then there's Warsaw.
At Project for Public Spaces, Inc. we think successful public spaces are the key to the future of cities. By “successful spaces” we mean spaces that are used, but what we find more often than not, in the centers of cities, are some very bad spaces – meaning that they are pretty much devoid of opportunities to do anything – even though they look good. We have also found that the least successful spaces and buildings are often the newest ones.