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Old 12-25-2012, 06:02 PM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,683 posts, read 45,361,353 times
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Without the really bad stuff, of course...

Say an American or European city in the early 20th century, say the early 1920s before the automobile and highway ruled.

Densities were actually generally higher. Take Manhattan, for instance, in 1900 it actually had MORE people than it does now, even with all the high-rise apartments! Goes to show you can have density without height.

There was a lot more mixed-use, of course. Shops, houses, light industry all occupying the same areas. The more noxious industry was already being 'zoned' away by this stage.

Nonetheless many cities already had a network of handsome public parks and gardens, Boston and London are good examples.

Much more day to day interaction: nowadays you'll only find this in the US in Manhattan, inner Boston, Philly, Chicago, San Francisco, but the culture has changed so interaction isn't as 'natural' as in days gone by.

I think life would be somewhat more interesting. People could still could still escape the cities to the countryside, and suburbs were envisioned as 'country estates' for the wealthy. Of course cities have evolved over time, some of the industrial cities of the 19th century like Glasgow, Manchester, Leipzig were some of the worst cities there have ever been.
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Old 12-25-2012, 06:19 PM
 
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If I could figure out the visa, I'd move to contemporary Venice in an instant. Modern city (well, modern people living and working in mostly historic buildings), compact totally walkable! Not pre-automobile, of course, but a wonderful city all the same. It has its problems -- not related to lack of cars -- but still, a great place to live, and a place where walking is a primary mode of transportation.

As far as Manhattan density, while I do agree you can have some level of density without the height, most people also presumably don't want to go back to levels of density created in part by large families crammed into tiny apartments. We don't all need to be floating around in spacious mansions, either, but some of the living conditions, particularly for the poor, was (and is) pretty miserable. A happy medium would be nice.
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Old 12-25-2012, 06:31 PM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
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I think it'd be great to live in a walkable city like Copenhagen, Amsterdam or Venice. A lot of dense cities actually put me off in terms of living there because of traffic in general, like Hong Kong or New York, but the cities I mentioned have precincts that seem almost car-free.
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Old 12-25-2012, 06:58 PM
 
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I've often thought that the 20's would have been a good time to live in a big city, but I have to admit some negatives. A lot of people in New York were still crowded into bad tenements on the Lower East Side. There was an apartment building boom in New York in the 20's, especially in The Bronx, so as time went on many people could escape those slums. Some beautiful buildings were built in New York and Washington and even Los Angeles in the 1920's, I guess in the fantasy I can afford an apartment in one!

The 20's were the transitional time for American automobile use, when it became a mass phenomenon. It got to be more and more of an issue, congesting downtown streets, slowing down streetcars etc. New York and Chicago were (and are) pretty unique in having all of their rail transit grade separated. But in the 20's American cities were still expanding their rapid transit systems, especially in New York and San Francisco (OK, the Twin Peaks trolley Tunnel to the Sunset district was opened in 1917).

The 20's were not a good time for everybody. Farmers were taking it in the shins, workers had few rights. Discrimination against Jews was getting better, but still serious. Discrimination against African Americans was, if anything, getting worse. It was a big time for the KKK, which marched openly in Northern cities such as Indianapolis. There was a lot of rural-urban animosity, which tied into religion and ethnicity/national origin.

There were a lot of real estate shenanigans then. Lots of creative financing. In some ways, the boom of the early 2000s, after regulatory controls had been mostly lifted on mortgage financing, was a lot like the boom of the 1920's. My mother used to tell me about balloon financing as an evil of that bygone period.

I'll just have to make do by staying in 1920's era hotels when I can.
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Old 12-25-2012, 08:26 PM
 
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Based on pictures from the era, NYC was actually a car city in the 1920s; I imagine they were overjoyed to have something without the manure issues of horses
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Old 12-25-2012, 08:58 PM
Status: "Summer!" (set 17 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
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Yes, I'd love to have lived in an era where people could routinely expect at least one of their kids to die before adulthood, etc. No vaccines, no antibiotics, wouldn't it be wonderful? Also no vote for women.
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Old 12-25-2012, 09:24 PM
 
Location: Canada
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Wouldn't want to live then, there's been too many advancements for people since that time and it wouldn't be worse the tradeoff. America was a developing country by modern standards during that period, it'd be like living in a dense Pakistani city today. Too much poverty in those cities during that period. I would however like to live in a preserved 1920's NY in 2012 with a few renovations and modern upgrades, that'd be lovely.
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Old 12-25-2012, 10:24 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
Yes, I'd love to have lived in an era where people could routinely expect at least one of their kids to die before adulthood, etc. No vaccines, no antibiotics, wouldn't it be wonderful? Also no vote for women.
The women's suffrage amendment was ratified in 1920. The comment about infants dying is interesting. My mother told me the story of her grandmother who had some children in Poland, where several died before adulthood, then came to the US in the late 19th Century and had more, none of whom died. But medicine certainly wasn't as advanced 90 years ago, and there had been a horrible flu worldwide flu pandemic in 1918 that killed millions.
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Old 12-25-2012, 11:09 PM
 
Location: Vallejo
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Hell no. Y'all are welcome to your romantic notions of tenement life.
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Old 12-26-2012, 06:29 AM
 
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Without the bad stuff, such as horse manure (and even dead horses ) in the streets, coal heating that blackened the skies, it would still be a sacrifice. No TV or radio, although newspapers flourished. Living in the railroad suburbs would be pleasant, if you could afford it. And if you visit those suburbs today you will find most of the original homes, considered spacious at the time, have been enlarged or torn down for larger structures, even though families today are smaller.
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