The Dawn of Market Urbanism
A new and better approach to shaping the places in which we live has emerged just as Americans responding to the rising cost of energy begin to crowd into older suburbs and cities.
The models for how we build cities and suburbs have changed significantly in the last two decades. Crudely put, the Age of Planning has been replaced by the Age of the Market. This shift is largely the result of the calamitous experience of urban renewal during the 1950s and ’60s, when large swaths of inner city neighborhoods were cleared and replaced by standardized apartment blocks, mammoth public housing projects, and blighting urban expressways. Many cities have still not fully recovered from what amounted to urban lobotomies. This experience gave centralized top-down city planning a bad name, but urbanization itself did not stop—after all, people have to live, shop, and play somewhere.
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Witold Rybczynksi is emeritus professor of urbanism at the University of Pennsylvania. His first article in The Wilson Quarterly appeared in the Summer 1992 issue. His latest book is The Biography of a Building: How Robert Sainsbury and Norman Foster Built a Great Museum.more from this author >>