TEDxCity2.0: A day of urban inspiration.

“For one day only, the TEDx platform will harness the power of people across the globe to encourage them to host a TEDx event, themed “City 2.0,” featuring the brightest local minds and biggest hearts. In unison, we’ll share the stories of our beloved homes. Where are the bright spots? The creative adaptations? The transformative […]

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Why do we insist on Bradford Pears?

Spring’s come early to our city and the Bradford pears are in full bloom. As I was walking to work the other day, I couldn’t help but think how lovely they were to look at. But the smell was something else entirely. Bradford pear trees on Coffee Street in downtown Greenville  Bradfords were first developed […]

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Planning for the People

John Cleese, who played the inept hotel manager in the English television show Fawlty Towers, once described his character as someone who “could run this hotel just fine, if it weren’t for the guests.” It raises a chuckle in the context of sitcoms but when it comes to urban planning, this sentiment can be all too common. […]

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Tea Party v. Smart Growth

I just read an absolutely fascinating article by Anthony Flint in The Atlantic Cities about how Tea Party Activists, in the name of aggressively smaller government, are working to undermine long held smart growth principles. Flint describes the scene: Across the country, Tea Party activists have been storming planning meetings of all kinds, opposing various plans by […]

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How Public Spaces Succeed

Last week, I talked about the ways a public space can fail. The obvious question, then, is, “what can bring this space back to life?” Here are a couple of suggestions, many of which are already being acted upon in regards to the public square here in my home town: Keep up with maintenance and […]

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How Public Spaces Fail

About 15 or so years ago, a massive community effort was launched in our city to close a section of a street running by the historic County Courthouse. The goal? A traditional public square. The idea was to have a gathering place in the downtown area, one that could be used for festivals, concerts and other community […]

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The Limits of the Built Environment

Is it smart people that make cities thrive or is it a great built environment? From Witold Rybczynski’s Slate article on Edward Glaeser’s Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier: Glaeser defines the city as a “mass of connected humanity.” His emphasis on human capital is […]

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The End of McMansions?

Time Magazine had an interesting piece on how the era of the McMansions, houses that top out at over 3,000 square feet. It seems that “from 1950 to 2004, the average size of an American home jumped from from 983 square feet to 2,349 square feet.”  Now this number is finally dropping. In 2010, only 9% […]

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Highways and downtowns.

It always amazes me the number of cities who have major highways separating tourist attractions from downtown. Photo courtesy of Urban Review STL Downtown St. Louis, home of one of the most iconic images in our nation, has I-70 running between downtown and the Arch, which is built adjacent to the riverfront.  Pedestrians have to […]

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A Tale of Two Cities, Part 2

A few days ago I spoke with a downtown consultant and brought up my recent trip to Georgetown in Washington, DC.  His response?  “You can’t build cities that way anymore.”  Apparently, most city building codes actually prevent the creation of high-density, multi-use areas like Georgetown. Photo courtesy of virtualtourist.com Georgetown thrives due to many factors […]

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