September 5, 2010

IN OTHER WORDS, TURNING SUBURBAN:

How to shrink a city: Not every great metropolis is going to make a comeback. Planners consider some radical ways to embrace decline. (Drake Bennett, September 5, 2010, Boston Globe)

[A] few planners and politicians are starting to try something new: embracing shrinking. Frankly admitting that these cities are not going to return to their former population size anytime soon, planners and activists and officials are starting to talk about what it might mean to shrink well. After decades of worrying about smart growth, they’re starting to think about smart shrinking, about how to create cities that are healthier because they are smaller. Losing size, in this line of thought, isn’t just a byproduct of economic malaise, but a strategy.

The resulting cities may need to look and feel very different — different, perhaps, from the common understanding of what a modern American city is. Rather than trying to lure back residents or entice businesses to build on vacant lots, cities may be better off finding totally new uses for land: large-scale urban farms, or wind turbines or geothermal wells, or letting large patches revert to nature. Instead of merely tolerating the artist communities that often spring up in marginal neighborhoods, cities might actively encourage them to colonize and reshape whole swaths of the urban landscape. Or they might consider selling off portions to private companies to manage.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 5, 2010 4:37 PM
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