City Builder Book Club: Chapter 14

Part 3:  Forces of decline and regeneration 

Chapter 14: The curse of border vacuums

Chapter 14, p272

Different as railroad tracks, waterfronts, campuses, expressways, large parking areas, and large parks are from each other in most ways, they also have much in common with each other – so far as their tendency to exist amid moribund or declining surroundings are concerned. And if we look at the parts of cities most literally attractive – ie those that literally attract people, in the flesh – we find that these fortunate localities are seldom in the zones immediately adjoining massive single uses.

The root trouble with borders, as city neighbours, is that they are apt to form dead ends for most users of city streets.  They represent to most people, most of the times, barriers….

…Borders can thus tend to form vacuums of uses adjoining them.

p 278-279.  

Frequent borders, whether formed by arterial highways, institutions, projects, campuses, industrial parks or other massive uses of special land, can in a way tear a city to tatters….  The point is hardly to disdain such facililties as these, or to minimize their value. Rather, the point is to recognize that they are mixed blessings.

p279- 280

The simplest cases to correct, I think, are borders that could logically encourage much greater use of their perimeters.  Consider, for example, Central Park in New York City….

…It is quite an achievement to make a splendid carousel seem lost and gloomy, but this has been achieved in Central Park.  Park uses like these should be bought right up to the borders of big parks, and designed as links between the park and its bordering street.  They can belong to to the world of the street, and in their other side, to the world of the park, and be charming in their double life.

…It is up to the other side of the street also – the city side- to combat park vacuums..

..Bicycle riding is fine in a large park, but bicycle renting could be over the city side of the the line. The point , in short, would be to seek out border-line cases and invent new ones too, keeping the city as city and the park as park, but making the partnership connexion between them explicit, lively and sufficiently frequent.

…It then becomes a seam rather than a barrier, a line of exchange along which two areas are sewn together…



3 thoughts on “City Builder Book Club: Chapter 14

  1. musedemuzz says:

    Once again, Jane has hit the nail on the head. I think waterfronts can be great -if they have cafes, restaurants and (most importantly) parks along them.

    Similarly, university campuses need shops and cafes (presumably where students get their supplies and entertainment from.

    Also, great drawing.

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