George Frantz, of the firm creating the Dryden Comprehensive Plan, has an editorial in the Ithaca Journal today about visions of a much more compact Ithaca at Cornell's Urban and Regional Studies program.
He's right that the distributed "American city that has evolved since 1900 is in fact a historical aberration," and that we don't need to be sprawled across the countryside. At the same time, I suspect that encouraging more compact development is going to have some very unpleasant side effects for denser areas while transportation by car remains a critical part of American expectations.
I'd love to see the hamlets and villages in Dryden support more people and businesses on their own, but the drive to Lansing, Ithaca, and Cortland is just too easy right now. This isn't a new problem; George Goodrich wrote back in 1897 that:
The advent of the Southern Central railroad in 1869 has already been referred to and produced no great immediate change in the affairs of the village. To the merchants the advantage of reduced freight rates was offset by the ease and frequency with which their customers sought places in larger towns to do their trading. (The Centennial History of the Town of Dryden, 1797-1897, p.96)
(I'm in Philadelphia for a conference at the moment, enjoying that I can walk around its dense center city and find all kinds of amazing shops while my car rests in a garage for the week.)Posted by simon at December 8, 2003 10:14 AM in history , planning and zoning