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Old 08-01-2012, 02:17 PM
 
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Quote:
The population density is 243 per square kilometer (630/sq. mile.) I’d like you to contemplate the following thought experiment. Suppose Atlanta adopted a Portland-style land use plan, and didn’t allow any growth beyond the current perimeter. Let’s also suppose that over the next few decades Atlanta’s population grew from 5.3 million to 8.3 million, with all of the new residents packed into the current area.

Sounds like nightmarish hell, doesn’t it? And yet England is not just more crowded than Atlanta today, with 1053 people per square mile it’s more crowded than Atlanta would be with 3 million more residents packed into the current metro area.

[snip]

One answer is that “overpopulation” is a state of mind.
There's more information in the link:

TheMoneyIllusion » A green and pleasant land

The whole jist of his argument is that overcrowding is a state of mind that can be shaped by the environment you live in. I used to live near a city park and when I did it made the city feel really spacious even though it was pretty dense. As a result it felt very pleasant. Now I live near an area that's in the process of gentrifying along a main street. it's not too far from my old apartment, but the experience is different. There's some trees near me, but I also hear a ton of traffic noise and emergency vehicles which drastically reduces my enjoyment of the area and makes it feel grittier than it is.

Last edited by nei; 08-01-2012 at 02:47 PM.. Reason: copyright violation
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Old 08-01-2012, 02:44 PM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

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Location: NYC
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First, most English, even outside of London, live in cities and their rather dense (at least for American standards) suburbs not bucolic small towns and rural countryside. Many of these places aren't really all that quaint, unless your idea of quaint is post-industrial mill cities. And England feels really dense. Cities are a short distance from each other. They do sprawl less, but in between is mostly farmland with little undeveloped land. Unlike Massachusetts or upstate NY, there is little sparsely populated land (rural densities here fall down to 45 per square mile, often much below; you can't find that in England and the difference in feel in finding empty space is obvious).
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Old 08-01-2012, 03:16 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
First, most English, even outside of London, live in cities and their rather dense (at least for American standards) suburbs not bucolic small towns and rural countryside. Many of these places aren't really all that quaint, unless your idea of quaint is post-industrial mill cities. And England feels really dense. Cities are a short distance from each other. They do sprawl less, but in between is mostly farmland with little undeveloped land. Unlike Massachusetts or upstate NY, there is little sparsely populated land (rural densities here fall down to 45 per square mile, often much below; you can't find that in England and the difference in feel in finding empty space is obvious).
Even so, feeling does seem to follow form. Two neighborhoods can have equal densities, yet different feels due to differences in design. This is why design guides are important. Unfortunately, many (most?) that do exist use suggestive instead of commanding language.

This all goes back to the argument on walkability of a neighborhood.
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Old 08-01-2012, 07:13 PM
 
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Originally Posted by darkeconomist View Post
Even so, feeling does seem to follow form. Two neighborhoods can have equal densities, yet different feels due to differences in design. This is why design guides are important. Unfortunately, many (most?) that do exist use suggestive instead of commanding language.

This all goes back to the argument on walkability of a neighborhood.
Exactly and it also goes hand in hand with utilitarianism versus beauty in city planning and development.
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Old 08-02-2012, 12:41 AM
 
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Most of the open space I see in new suburbs isn't "green space"--it's gray space. Roads, highways, parking lots, big "landscraper" commercial buildings constructed with depreciation in mind. A few in-between spaces, too small or oddly-shaped to build on, or the weird-shaped lots next to highway off-ramps may technically count as "green space," along with the angular, fenced-off "detention basins" to hold rain runoff caused by all the asphalt, but I can't imagine kids playing on those.
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Old 08-02-2012, 12:50 AM
 
Location: Vallejo
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Well, first of all, that is the exact opposite of Portland-style development. Portland-style development mandates expansion of its growth boundary. That.. uh, minor trivial detail aside. I sort of stopped reading there, so...
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Old 08-02-2012, 07:36 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
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Trying to shift the subject a bit...

One way you could look at it is a heavily suburbanized area wastes green space. It allocates some green space to nearly everyone in the form of lawns, despite the fact that some may see a lawn as a hassle they do not enjoy, and others may in theory enjoy having a lawn, but in practice either not maintain it well, or else keep it looking nice and never get much use out of it.

I would not say that cities have more green space than suburbs. However, the amount of private green space is cut down, while public green space is increased in size. In addition, cities have more "parklets" - tiny parks spaced relatively closely with the idea that each neighborhood should have some public green space within walking distance. Parks tend to be more utilized by people of all ages (instead of glorified outdoor recreation centers for children).

I'm not even sure green space is needed however. As noted, cities in Europe have very little green space within the city proper, as the cities predated the period where large urban parks were seen as a good idea. European cities tend to have "public gray space" for walkers - plazas and pedestrian-only roads - which serve the social function that parks serve within the U.S.
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Old 08-02-2012, 09:47 AM
 
Location: Vallejo
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In general, suburban areas have more public parkland than urban areas. You of course have exceptions, but San Francisco always shocked me with how few parks it has. The whole Mission/Castro/Noe Valley area has one park, so on a nice sunny day it ends up looking like this: San francisco - Google Maps

To me, that screams inadequate green space. Not that I've had a ton of time in Europe, but my experience is the complete opposite. Most of my time was in Prague. In the historic, but not Old Town (which was a walled city for defensive reasons), every block has a mini-park/courtyard in it, and you can't go more than a few blocks without hitting some sort of open greenspace. San Francisco you can be in for a long trek.
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Old 08-02-2012, 10:43 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Malloric View Post
Well, first of all, that is the exact opposite of Portland-style development. Portland-style development mandates expansion of its growth boundary. That.. uh, minor trivial detail aside. I sort of stopped reading there, so...
He's an economist by profession. He was speaking ceteris paribus to illustrate a point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
Trying to shift the subject a bit...

One way you could look at it is a heavily suburbanized area wastes green space. It allocates some green space to nearly everyone in the form of lawns, despite the fact that some may see a lawn as a hassle they do not enjoy, and others may in theory enjoy having a lawn, but in practice either not maintain it well, or else keep it looking nice and never get much use out of it.

I would not say that cities have more green space than suburbs. However, the amount of private green space is cut down, while public green space is increased in size. In addition, cities have more "parklets" - tiny parks spaced relatively closely with the idea that each neighborhood should have some public green space within walking distance. Parks tend to be more utilized by people of all ages (instead of glorified outdoor recreation centers for children).

I'm not even sure green space is needed however. As noted, cities in Europe have very little green space within the city proper, as the cities predated the period where large urban parks were seen as a good idea. European cities tend to have "public gray space" for walkers - plazas and pedestrian-only roads - which serve the social function that parks serve within the U.S.

Interesting. I thought that suburbs make inefficient use of land, but I never really considered it from that perspective.

And I don't think I agree with the part about Europe. They do have pedestrian only streets and plazas, but they also have public parks which are bigger than then American counterparts to help make the city seem less crowded than it is.
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Old 08-02-2012, 10:49 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Malloric View Post
In general, suburban areas have more public parkland than urban areas. You of course have exceptions, but San Francisco always shocked me with how few parks it has. The whole Mission/Castro/Noe Valley area has one park, so on a nice sunny day it ends up looking like this: San francisco - Google Maps

To me, that screams inadequate green space. Not that I've had a ton of time in Europe, but my experience is the complete opposite. Most of my time was in Prague. In the historic, but not Old Town (which was a walled city for defensive reasons), every block has a mini-park/courtyard in it, and you can't go more than a few blocks without hitting some sort of open greenspace. San Francisco you can be in for a long trek.
There seems to be a correlation between some measure of city size (geographic, population, or pop. density) and total park space. The difference, then, is how that park space is allocated. SF has one big park, San Jose has many smaller parks and parklets.

Quote:
Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
I'm not even sure green space is needed however. As noted, cities in Europe have very little green space within the city proper, as the cities predated the period where large urban parks were seen as a good idea. European cities tend to have "public gray space" for walkers - plazas and pedestrian-only roads - which serve the social function that parks serve within the U.S.
Maybe, due to the context of the history of the US, our green space is the analogue of their grey space? The purpose seems to be the same, even if the form is different.
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