Posted by: brian | July 24, 2007

2057: The City, Take 2

Remember a couple days ago, when I talked about the city of the future? Today I read a piece from 1999 called “The American Metropolis at Century’s End,” by Robert Fishman. The premise was: Let’s survey prominent “urban specialists” (architects & landscape architects, urban planners, historians, and so on) and put together a list of the top 10 influences on American cities in the 2nd half of the 20th century, and another list of the 10 most likely influences for the 1st half of the 21st.

Just because I can, here’s the first list:
1. The 1956 Interstate Highway Act and the Dominance of the Automobile
2. Federal Housing Administration Mortgage Financing and Subdivision Regulation
3. De-Industrialization of Central Cities
4. Urban Renewal: Downtown Redevelopment and Public Housing Projects (1949 Housing Act)
5. Levittown (the Mass-Produced Suburban Tract House)
6. Racial Segregation and Job Discrimination in Cities and Suburbs
7. Enclosed Shopping Malls
8. Sunbelt-Style Sprawl
9. Air Conditioning
10. Urban Riots of the 1960s

But what about the future? What do the experts think could be the most influential factors in the future development of the American metropolis? Let’s take a look:
1. Growing Disparities of Wealth
2. The Suburban Political Majority
3. Aging of the Baby Boomers
4. A Perpetual “Underclass” in the Central Cities and Inner-Ring Suburbs
5. Smart Growth: Environmental and Planning Initiatives to Limit Sprawl
6. The Internet
7. Deterioration of the First-Ring Post-1945 Suburbs
8. Shrinking Household Size
9. Expanded Superhighway System of “Outer Beltways” to Serve New Edge Cities
10. Racial Integration as Part of the Increasing Diversity in Cities and Suburbs

The article mentioned that these top 10 lists were selected from 25 choices (for the past 50 years) and 19 choices (for the next 50). I don’t know what the 19 “future” choices were, but I kind of doubt the list included “holographic cartoon sharks,” “self-driving cars,” and “personal robots.”

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