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Old 05-09-2013, 03:23 PM
 
Location: Holly Neighborhood, AUSTINtx
3,236 posts, read 4,558,667 times
Reputation: 1774

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Quote:
Originally Posted by scm53 View Post
You've watched Who Framed Roger Rabbit? too many times. It's fiction, OK?
No it actually happened:

General Motors streetcar conspiracy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 
Old 05-09-2013, 03:30 PM
 
Location: Bronx
12,480 posts, read 14,605,525 times
Reputation: 6353
Quote:
Originally Posted by scm53 View Post
Well, this simply will not be permitted. People too stupid to know what they want is bad for them.

Found this part interesting:



Conclusion:
In some ways both Joel Kotkin and Richard Florida are right about certain aspects of city and suburbs, but both are still primarily idiots. I really want to see these two duke it out on celebrity deathmatch. I live in NYC which is very dense and looking to escape to a smaller city. When density comes into play it becomes really hard to obtain a job, rents and mortgages go sky high and mass transit becomes crowded with constant delays, and high inequality has become a problem in dense cities like NY for example and this is where Richard Florida fails. As for Kotkin he also fails in many areas too, most young people do not want to live in the suburbs and prefer cities that are dense, people do want street culture and street life as well as energy prices, it cost plenty to run a suburban home from gas to water. But I think in some ways kotkin is more correct than Richard Florida. Neither city or suburb is sustainable for the long run and will run out of steam and people will move again. I'm going to be visiting Austin soon and I hear so much about its growth and wonder if it can sustain this type of growth being a mix urban surburban city?

Last edited by Bronxguyanese; 05-09-2013 at 03:48 PM..
 
Old 05-09-2013, 04:30 PM
 
Location: The People's Republic of Austin
5,185 posts, read 4,853,385 times
Reputation: 2541
Quote:
Originally Posted by verybadgnome View Post
The ridiculous part of this dubious claim is that GM "destroyed" streetcars to force Americans to buy cars, thereby contributing to the suburban sprawl which exists to this day. One big problem - from 1940 until 1987, the largest US manufacturer of transit buses was General Motors. They produced over 90,000 buses in this period. Certainly, they might have bought up those streetcar lines to boost the market for their buses. Where this descends into a conspiracy theory is the tenuous, independently unproven claim that ties this to suburban sprawl. From the very article you cite:

Quote:
One writer on the subject has suggested that Snell and others fell into simplistic conspiracy theory thinking, bordering on paranoid delusions saying "Clearly, GM waged a war on electric traction. It was indeed an all out assault, but by no means the single reason for the failure of rapid transit. Also, it is just as clear that actions and inactions by government contributed significantly to the elimination of electric traction."

Last edited by scm53; 05-09-2013 at 04:42 PM..
 
Old 05-09-2013, 04:34 PM
 
Location: The People's Republic of Austin
5,185 posts, read 4,853,385 times
Reputation: 2541
Quote:
Originally Posted by Devout Urbanist View Post
The only cartoons I've come across lately are Joel Kotkin and his uninformed acolytes, who know as much about American history as they do about urban planning.
Alex Jones has just as convincing a conspiracy theory that the world is ruled by a bunch of evil men who worship the owl, Moloch.

Careful - the black GM helicopters are hovering over your flat right now.
 
Old 05-09-2013, 06:01 PM
 
416 posts, read 401,462 times
Reputation: 435
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bronxguyanese View Post
I live in NYC which is very dense and looking to escape to a smaller city. When density comes into play it becomes really hard to obtain a job, rents and mortgages go sky high and mass transit becomes crowded with constant delays, and high inequality has become a problem in dense cities like NY for example and this is where Richard Florida fails. As for Kotkin he also fails in many areas too, most young people do not want to live in the suburbs and prefer cities that are dense, people do want street culture and street life as well as energy prices, it cost plenty to run a suburban home from gas to water. But I think in some ways kotkin is more correct than Richard Florida. Neither city or suburb is sustainable for the long run and will run out of steam and people will move again. I'm going to be visiting Austin soon and I hear so much about its growth and wonder if it can sustain this type of growth being a mix urban surburban city?
I pretty much agree with you. Kotkin and Florida are propagandists. One claims to represent the so-called "common man" and the other claims to speak for "the creatives." Really they're capitalizing on old tensions in American society (rural vs. urban, rustic vs. intellectual, conservative vs. liberal, blah, blah, blah). And they both attract people who share their puerile, either/or conception of the world.

I used to live in NYC (Bronx, Brooklyn, and Manhattan) and I left partly because it is overpriced, overcrowded, and just plain overwhelming. A lot of people on both sides of this debate think it's all about choosing between NYC on the one hand and Dallas or some suburban city on the other. Like you, I prefer the middle-ground -- cities that are walkable (most daily errands can be done on foot), reasonably well-connected by public transit, and built to human scale (i.e. few, if any, high rise condos, skyscrapers, or eight-lane highways bisecting your neighborhood and destroying your view of, well, anything, like Houston), cities where owning a car is neither a nuisance nor a necessity.

Such cities exist in the U.S., but so far Austin simply is not one of them. I personally think it is going about urbanization all wrong, building high-rise after high-rise and focusing on its downtown, as if that's what it takes to become a world-class city, instead of building basic infrastructure, like sidewalks and other pedestrian friendly features, which are needed to create a more vibrant street culture throughout the city core (who the hell wants to walk by block after block of strip malls and empty fields on a slim, dilapidated sidewalk with cars speeding by you at 45 miles an hour, even if there's a light rail?). In the most walkable areas of the city walking is altogether unpleasant (I don't bike, but I'd imagine it's not much better), so it's still strange for me to hear anyone describe Austin as "urban."

The new developments either make it seem like the only people who should hope to live small and urban are twenty-somethings and rich people (the triangle, downtown condos, the domain) or they attempt to duplicate suburban-style living in the city (like Mueller, which is in the middle of nowhere and not really mixed-use). You end up with too much density in some areas and not enough in others.

So Austin is not really a mix of urban and suburban. It's a highly suburban, car-dependent city with low-density and a few walkable pockets, mostly in the area immediately surrounding downtown and the university. Cities that seem more like a mix are, Philly, Chicago, LA, D.C./Baltimore, Seattle, St. Louis, Portland, Oakland, Pittsburgh and, to a lesser extent, Houston (inside the loop).

Austin needs to do more to make the city core affordable for ordinary middle-income people, while also becoming more walkable and interconnected through transit. I'm hopeful that that will eventually happen and the city will become, in terms of design, more like the Pacific Northwest or LA county, with its densely populated, walkable enclaves connected by both highways and mass transit (people in Austin who know nothing about LA cringe when they hear this), than like, say, San Antonio or Dallas. But it has a long way to go.

I hope you have a nice time when you visit. Just keep in mind that Southwestern cities have a totally different layout and can be underwhelming at first glance, but if you're truly open to the atmosphere and the local culture (laid-back, outdoorsy, conversational, unpretentious, celebratory) you'll probably have a pleasant experience.
 
Old 05-09-2013, 06:24 PM
 
3,834 posts, read 4,082,099 times
Reputation: 2525
Quote:
Originally Posted by Devout Urbanist View Post

Such cities exist in the U.S., but so far Austin simply is not one of them. I personally think it is going about urbanization all wrong, building high-rise after high-rise and focusing on its downtown, as if that's what it takes to become a world-class city, instead of building basic infrastructure, like sidewalks and other pedestrian friendly features, which are needed to create a more vibrant street culture throughout the city core (who the hell wants to walk by block after block of strip malls and empty fields on a slim, dilapidated sidewalk with cars speeding by you at 45 miles an hour, even if there's a light rail?). In the most walkable areas of the city walking is altogether unpleasant (I don't bike, but I'd imagine it's not much better), so it's still strange for me to hear anyone describe Austin as "urban."

The new developments either make it seem like the only people who should hope to live small and urban are twenty-somethings and rich people (the triangle, downtown condos, the domain) or they attempt to duplicate suburban-style living in the city (like Mueller, which is in the middle of nowhere and not really mixed-use). You end up with too much density in some areas and not enough in others.

Long post and only a couple of issues. Otherwise spot on.

1. If I had to list ten items that make a city "walkable" sidewalks might make the list at 10. Way above that would be density. And way above density would be street oriented buildings. Lots of barren suburbs around Austin utterly devoid of any street life whatsoever are festooned with sidewalks. Those are not remotely walkable.

2. Your characterization of Mueller in the middle of nowhere is a bit bizarre considering its adjacent to Cherrywood, 1 mile from Hyde Park, 2 miles from UT Campus, 3 miles to downtown Austin. It's increasingly becoming a destination in its own right - has the best Farmers Market in Austin, one of the best parks in Austin, soon to be homes to coolest grocery store in Austin, will be home to the Austin Children's museum this year and a whole bunch of other stuff including play houses, movie theaters, boutique hotels, shops, restaurants etc. in next 5 years. And to say its not mixed use is also a bit bizarre as just about 100% of the residents will live a 5-10 minute walk or even shorter bike ride of just about all those amenities.
 
Old 05-09-2013, 07:05 PM
 
Location: Round Rock, Texas
6,988 posts, read 6,560,831 times
Reputation: 5150
Round Rock is quite walkable.
 
Old 05-10-2013, 12:32 AM
 
1,261 posts, read 1,835,915 times
Reputation: 2451
Quote:
Originally Posted by Komeht View Post
Long post and only a couple of issues. Otherwise spot on.

1. If I had to list ten items that make a city "walkable" sidewalks might make the list at 10. Way above that would be density. And way above density would be street oriented buildings. Lots of barren suburbs around Austin utterly devoid of any street life whatsoever are festooned with sidewalks. Those are not remotely walkable.

2. Your characterization of Mueller in the middle of nowhere is a bit bizarre considering its adjacent to Cherrywood, 1 mile from Hyde Park, 2 miles from UT Campus, 3 miles to downtown Austin. It's increasingly becoming a destination in its own right - has the best Farmers Market in Austin, one of the best parks in Austin, soon to be homes to coolest grocery store in Austin, will be home to the Austin Children's museum this year and a whole bunch of other stuff including play houses, movie theaters, boutique hotels, shops, restaurants etc. in next 5 years. And to say its not mixed use is also a bit bizarre as just about 100% of the residents will live a 5-10 minute walk or even shorter bike ride of just about all those amenities.
Right now, and it may improve, but right now, Mueller is a complete failure. Its only retail is big box stores, surrounded by massive parking lots. There is not ONE local business in the place. Sure you can walk to your neighbor's house a little more easily because the lots are small. The downtown farmer's market has at least triple the vendors as Mueller. The lake/park is tragic: you really want to compare that ersatz drainage ditch with the town lake hike and bike trail, Bull Creek, Barton Creek greenbelt, Zilker, Guerrero, Pease. I think the Mueller park might very well be the worst park in the city limits.

The design of the new HEB is suburban in the extreme - utterly unfriendly to the street, and again located in an ocean of a parking lot. The design values of 90% of the houses are grotesque. Mueller is currently a compressed slice of the exurbs on the East Side: tract housing without the space. It is badly served by public transportation. The only thing going for it are nice community pools, central location and the Hospital. The recession hit at a bad time for Mueller, but even if it had not, what they have built so far suggests that Mueller would still be the ugliest, if not the lamest faux new urbanism development in the United States. It makes the Triangle look like Paris, and I hate the Triangle too.

So far, a HUGE missed opportunity. In 20 years the trees will grow in, so the architectural hideousness will be disguised, but there probably won't be a single mixed use building, and you will still have to risk your life walking through acres of parking lots to get to the Home Depot. Currently, it is like a low rent, suburban version of The Domain. Why?
 
Old 05-10-2013, 07:00 AM
 
2,501 posts, read 1,681,421 times
Reputation: 899
Quote:
Originally Posted by verybadgnome View Post

One of the (many) problems with this conspiracy theory (for others, see:
The Great American Streetcar Myth | Market Urbanism)

is that the streetcars were taken out almost everywhere (basically every city used to have one). Even places that weren't bought out by GM (such as I believe Austin). From your own link "It has been suggested that the ultimate reach of GM's conspiracy extended to approximately 10% of all transit systems".
 
Old 05-10-2013, 07:38 AM
 
Location: Central Texas
13,721 posts, read 22,136,743 times
Reputation: 9127
Quote:
Originally Posted by tildahat View Post
Hard to shed too many tears for them when so many working and middle class families in Austin struggle to afford the cost of living.
It isn't so hard in the Austin area unless they think it is important to live central.

It truly sucks in most other parts of the US other than the southeast. What do you think a working middle class family in California has to do?
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