What are Tomorrow's Cities Like?

October 21 2016

In the decades following World War II, America was very, very bad at planning cities. There were some visionary ideas and grand designs, but from the epidemic of urban freeways that cut scars across downtowns to the often-poorly executed massive ""urban renewal"" projects like the one in my hometown of Washington, DC, there were dozens of mistakes that have had profound negative effects on the way people live.

And while planners have (mostly) learned from their mistakes, the process of ""undoing"" is difficult, if not impossible. People don't like change, and often they have very good reasons for liking change, even if the city they're in has serious issues. Plus fixing these things is expensive.

The question of how to ""build"" an prosperous, equitable, and happy city is purely an academic one. While new neighborhoods and suburban towns continue to go up, we're not going to be building any new metropolises. Urban planning is all about applying the ideals that we think make better cities to the incredibly tight constraints placed by societies.

I'm in grad school for urban planning and I'm really enjoying it. It allows me to apply my passion for understanding space and place to helping people. My passion for urban planning comes from the idea that so much of our day-to-day happiness is impacted by the layout and function of the built environment. Efficient public transit, smart parking policies, sufficient greenspace, and proper zoning laws effect where we choose to live and how much we enjoy our life. It's profoundly important to ensure that we don't let

So what will the cities of the future look like? I think the only two things we know is that a) they'll be bigger than the cities of today and b) the bones of today's cities will likely be unchanged. But no matter the future, we all need to be vocal and active parts of our collective future. So much attention is being played to national politics but it's what your mayor and city councilmembers are doing that's so much more important, on a day-to-day basis.

Sorry for this post being bland and boring, the Listserve caught me at a very busy time. Grad school life can be insane. Have fun and love each other!

Raynell C
Washington, DC
raynell@umd.edu


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