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William L. Hamilton ¯ How Suburban Design Is Failing Teen-Agers 217


on teenagers, while William Booth (1998) examines the reverse mi-

from cities to the suburbs in South Florida.

a of making newer suburbs more like small towns of old. New Urbanism, most

become increasingly y displayed popntar in The in Truman the last Show’s decade (1998) The real-life architectural setting and of publ Seaside, c space Florida, movement bas

encourages a retnrn to small-town living, which revolves around common spaces and a lay-

Out that encourages walking and more socialinteraction. Here Sarah Boxer (1998) and Whir-

Gould (1999) examine the idea of New Urbanism.



~ William L. Hamilton ~

as QUZC~’As THE WOR]~ "alienation" can be attached to the idea of youth, the image of isolation can be attacbed to a

) between them? It is a question picture parents of and the urban subnrbs. planners Is there alike an unexplored are raising in relation- the af-

of the Columbine High School shootings in Littleton, Colo.

At a time when the renegade sprawl of snburbs themselves is being intensely scruti-

the troubling vision of a nation re-pioneered in vast tracts of disconnected commu~ nities has prodnced uneasy discussion about the psychological disorientation they might

house. Created as safe havens from the sociological ills of cities, suburbs now stand accused

of creating their own environmental diseases: lack of character and the grounding princi-

lack of diversity or the tolerance it engenders, lack of attachment to shared,

civic ideals. Increasingly, the newest, largest subm’bs are being criticized as landscapes

scorched by nnthoughtfi~l, repetitious building, where, it has been suggested, tbe isolations

of larger lots and a car-based culture may lead to disassociation from the reality of contact

with other people.

Designers of the newest American suburbs say they have largely ignored or avoided one

volatile segment of the popnlation--teen-agers. In recent conversations, three dozen urban

planners, architects, environmental psychologists and sociologists, and experts on adolescent

development agreed that specific community planning and places for teen-agers to make

their own are missing.

"They’re basically an unseen population until they pierce their noses;’ said William

Morrish, a professor of architectnre and the director of the Design Center for American

Urban Landscape at the University of Minnesota. "They have access to computers and

weaponr): The sense of alienation that might come from isolation or neglect will have a

mnch larger impact than it might have before. And there are no questions craning from the

design community about what we can be doing about this. We don’t invite them in."

William L. Hamilton, How Suburban Design Is Failing Teen-Agers 219

  • e- Between home and school, in a landscape drawn by cars and the adults who drive them,



s there even a particular place that teen-agers can call their own? Peter Lang, a professor of cture at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and an editor of Suburban Discipline Architectural Press, 1997), a collection of essays, said: "In most suburbs, there’s

: even a decent park, because everyone has a backyard. But older kids never play in the e crummiest piece of parkY





Typically, the students at Columbine High School went to Southwest Plaza, a two-level has video arcades, food courts and stores, supervised by security guards and clgsed ~ 9 P.M. "Like any suburban community, there’s not a lot of places to go and hang out;’ Mr. ~ said of Litfleton. "I tell you this because that’s where my daughter goes--the mall." said he thought that places like malls were not adequate gathering spaces for them, like many public suburban venues, commercially and environmen- "controlled space." He added, "They are not places for flee expression or hanging out." that suburbs create greater alienation is Dr. Laurence Steinberg, a professor ~ and director of the MacArthur Foundation Research k on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice. But he said that he thought recent like the incident in Littleton do "wake people up to the notion that there is parental h"We did a study on latchkeyldds. The kids most r to be left unattended for long periods were middle class, in sprawhng professional sub - i~ Isolated for long periods of time, there’s no counterbalancing force to fantasy." desire for more and cheaper land that has pushed suburbs to rural exurbia may re- parts of the day. Mr. Morrish pointed out that in odesto, in the San Joaquin Valley in central California, people commute o area, where they enroll their children in schools. are taking their kids with them;’ he said, "making the

"and visibly at work on restructuring the sub- been "new urbanists" like Mr. Duany. Their solutions to the wheeling development are based on tighter concentrations of houses, businesses and townlike elements--porches, sidewalks and parks--that have lew residential landscape.

place there, in new towns like Columbia and Kentiands in Mary- d or Celebration, the Disney-built town in Florida, lt is not because of any bravery on the

They often foster nostalgic views of families with young children. But like

;, they overlook the inevitability of teen-agers in their design. who with Vincent Scully wrote The New Urbanism: Toward an Architecture ry (McGraw-Hill, 1993), spoke of the in~portance to teen-agers of a place that for them, neither hidden and ignored nor exposed and supervised in effect, a view.

Mr. Katz discovered that for Celebration’s teen-agers, it was a narrow bridge, ! low railings, that goes from downtown to the health dub." He continued: "They find other. They sit on the rafting. It’s on the route to dallylife not a back alley; but not the

a structure could become a conscious part of a

for teen-agers.

Dorney, a mother with two teen-age children who lives in Kentlands, Md., a mburb of some 1,800 people, the hallmarks of town life work well


for both parents and children. Ms. Dorney and her husband, Mark, moved their family from

a typical town-Lmuse development.

"WL ~ wanted to raise our kids in a place that provided more than just a house;’ she said¯

"It’s a diverse cornmuni~/, of age and income," with older people, young couples, families.

Ms. Dorney said that she thought the gaze of the town created a sense of extended family and

moral weight that were its most important success.

"Someone sneaking down the street to have a cigarette--they don’t get away with it;’she

said¯ "I don’t think teen-agers should be left on their own until heyre caught at the small

added: ~Andwehaveanotherwa.T~r;.




things. She contmued,"When th



~,o- ¯ ....


’-z t~o taro the ~)lg things, the know


j,~l~mwlng these gads, other than the bad thin;, They’re


, ,.


howblgthe are. She

your neighbors, too, You’re always seeing them. You give them another chance,"

America;’ she says.

Like thousands of others, Smith moved to this planned Community 40 miles north of

Miami just a few years ago, searching for a safe and secure neighborhood Iike this one, where

both modest homes and rambling mansions sit against the manicured landscape of paLm and

hibiscus, and gated streets called Wagon Way and Windmill Ranch gently curve around the

shallow lagoons and golf links.

Weston is a boomtown filling with refugees. But the migrants pouring into this part of

Btloward County are rarely those from the Caribbean, Central and South America--the Lm_

migrants to the south who have transformed Miami and Surrounding Dade County into a

metropolis proudly called by ~ts business and political leaders "The Gateway to Latin Amer-

ica." Instead, the refugees here are mostly native-born and white, young and old, and they have

been streaming up fi’om Miami for years nmv, creating a new version of the traditional"white

flight" in reaction not to black inner cities, but to immigration.

While Miami is unique in many respects, because of both geography and politics, the

out-migration of whites is occurring in other high-immigration cities. NewYork and Los An-

geles, for example, each lost a million U.S.-born residents in the last decade, as they gained

a million immigrants.

According to an analysis of the most recent census

wLm came to Miami-Dade Counh, ;

,. data, for almost every immi~ra

~ nt

~ ~, ~c~CUL years, a wrote non-Hispanic left. -


and asked that her occupation not be given. Before her move to Weston, Smith lived in Miami


"I loved Miami but it’s a mad sc


~,e uown



now,. sa~d.

Smzth, who is semi-retired

for two decades, "in a nice neighborhood ~’one bad r~^_~



that’s progress,’ but I like it clean


"~W~ ~ay things, Oh that’s change and

and green--and everybody speaking English;’ Smith says¯

In discussions about the historic demographic transformations occurring in the United

States, which is absorbing almost I minion immigrants a year, most of the attention focuses

quite naturally on the newcomers: Who are they and where are they from and Lmw do they

make their way in America?

William Booth ¯ AWhite Migration North from Miami 221

But immigration is a two-way street--and the welcome the immigrants receive from the ~afive-born is crucial for the continued idea of America as a fabled"melting pot." Of course, whites--and blacks, too--who have remained in Miami-Dade County, to - continue their lives as before or accept, even embrace the Latin tempo of Miami, who
d have learned how to pronounce masas de puerco at lunchtime and to fake a respectable merengue dance step, who enjoy the culture, the business opportunities and caffeinated bus- fie of a metropolis dominated by immigrants. No one could call M ami dull But it is almost as if there are two kinds of native whites--those who can deal with mul- ficulturalism that has transformed Miami over the past several decades and those who choose not to. Either way, if the country is to successfully transform itself into a completely multi- kulturai industrialized nation, what these internal migrants say and there are millions of needs to be heard and understood.


Those transplants interviewed by The Washington Post, including those who asked that pains to explain that, for the most part, the people like them out of Miami-Dade to Broward are not anti-immigrant xenophobes. In several dozen interviews with a cross-section of these domestic migrants, a picture

e non-Hispanic white population in Miami-Dade County that feels and who move from Dade to Broward with mLx of emotions. Migrants to Broward give many reasons for the move north: Their money buys a big- newer house in Broward; they are fired of the traffic and congestion; they worry about

)vercrowded schools; those with young families often say they a place where their children can play ball in the front yard and ride their

bikes dmvn the block. these things, the good and bad, can also be found in booming Broward County. r of the refugees moving north mention immigration and the sense that are no longer, as many transplants describe it, comfortable. PhilPhillips was born and raised near what is today downtown Miami, where his father ~or the Immigration and Naturalization Service during the postwar years, at a time nmigrants to Florida were mostly from Europe. Phillips served in the Navy, taught L Miami High School, and made a living running a small air condition-

Until the rise of Fidel Castro in Cuba, Phillips described the Miami of yesteryear as a more southern town. It had its glitz in the fanciful playground of Iackie Glea- z of Miami Beach, but the county was still filled with open land and farms. I was a very happy place, Phillips remembers with nostalgia. We had our demar- get me wrong. But we didn’t have the animosity. When pressed, Phillips does tha.t the beaches, resta.urants and nightclubs were often segregated, not only for

~ country clubs. of black-and-white all began to change with the arrival of the Cubans in ~ 1960s. The vast majority of the Cubans came here and worked two and three jobs,

g in Weston. A man who worked with his hands all his )ects that. I saw them do it. And in time, they took over, and some people re- that. But that’s the way it is.

this myth out there that a Cuban will screw an American in a deal, Phillips says. don’t think that is so, but that’s the feeling the whites have, and it’s because the two sides


don’t communicate, sometimes they can’t cormnunicate, and so they don’t understand the

other guy.

Phillips has seen decades of change, as the demographics of his home town kept skew-

ring toward Hispanics, in fits and starts. After the first big influx of Cubans in the 1960s, there

was Cuba’s MarM boatlift in 1980. Then all through the proxy wars and upheavals in Cen-

tral America and the Caribbean through the 1980s and 1990s, refugees from Nicaragua,

Honduras, El Salvador and Haiti kept coming to Miami.

e re great m m’nenca at blaming somebody else for our problems;’ Phillips said. "But

I will tell that for a lot of the people who leave Miami, they might not tell you, but they’re

leaving because of the ethnics."

Phillips offered his opinions as he sat sipping soup at the counter of a new restaurant

here in Weston opened by Tim Robbie, whose family owned the Miami Dolphins for years,

before they sold out to Wayne Huizenga, ~vho is "The Man" in Broward County, as much as

Jorge Mas Canosa, the power behind the Cuban American National Foundation, was "The

Man" in Miami before his death last year.

Robbie was raised in Miami. His family, lead by his father loe, was a cMc institution. But

Robhie himself recently moved to Weston, too.

itnow a lot of our friends down in Miami were disappointed with us;’ Robhie said.

"They asked: How can you do this to us?"

Robhie agreed that something akin to .....

the t~ppmg pomt phenomenon might be at


work, whereby one or two families in a social or business network can leave a community

and nothing much changes. But at some point, if enough people leave, the balance suddenly

tips, and large groups start selling their homes, and over a period of several years, they cre-

ate mass demographic shifts.

Robhie himself said he was comfortable down south in Miami, but concedes that

any are not. Anglos are accustomed to bemg m the majority, and down in Dade, they’re

not. And that puts some people outside of their comfort zone. People tend to like to stick


Robbie’s business partner is Bob Green, who also moved from Miami to Broward. A

longtime denizen of funky and fun Coconut Grove, Green describes himself as one of those

who never would have thought about moving north to Broward.

But then he saw the new business opportunities, and also found hlmseK liking a place

like Weston. "It has this midwestern feeling," Green said. "More downhome and friendly."

This mass internal migration is the latest version of a classic "push-pull" model of res-

idential segregation, whereby many whites in Miami feel lured north by the offerings of a de-

ve!opment like Weston, but also feel pushed out of Miami--not only by their fatigue with

crime or congestion, but the cultural and demographic upheavals caused by three decades

of immigration.

Peter Schott is a tourism official who is changing jobs and, reluctantly, moving with his

wffe, who works for a cruise ship line, to Broward. The couple, both in their thirties and ex-

pecting their first child, are looking for a bigger home. Schott says he will miss the exotic, for-

eign feel of Miami. Miami, Schott says, is a media noche, the name for a Cuban sandwich,

while Broward he fears is "white bread and baloney"While he

that many of those moving north to Broward may not.

"Some people are real frank;’ he said. "They say they want to be with more people more

ike us. If they re white Americans, they want white Americans around them:’


William Booth ¯ A White Migration North from Miami 223

For non-Hispanic, non-Spanish-speaking whites to survive in Miami, there is no choice

to move, or to adapt. "It is our city now;’ ma W Cuban Americans sa B and the numbers

  • w- tell part of the story.


) In the 1990s, some 95,000 white non-Hispanics left Miami-Dade County, decreasing

  • en- that group’s presence by 16 percent, to around 492,000, or about one-fifth of the county





h a


They either moved away or, in the case of elderly residents, particularly in the Jewish r, died. (The Jewish population in Miami-Dade County has decreased from about

decades. The new destination for Jewish retirees and and Palm Beach counties.) As whites left Miami, they poured into Brmvard. Between 1990 and 1997, the white e increased by about 82,000, or 8 percent, to more than a mil-

~ residents. s follmv an equally large out-migration of whites during the y non-Hispanic whites left ivliami-Dade in the previous decade that Marvin

a sociologist at Florida International University, who has fullowed the trend, said in get dmvn to the point belmv which those who are going to leave have left and the

~re committed to stay. I think we’re close to that with whites." The whites keep leaving.



. i

"White migration to Miami-Dade has essentially stopped;’ said William Frey, a de- y of Michigan, who coined the phrase "demographic balkaniza- describe the ongoing trend of ethnic and racial groups to self-segregate--not only . but from city to city, and frmn state to state. ppear almost like mirror images of each other;’ Frey said of Brmvard and

on here and we can only guess ,s ’One America’ that Clinton talks about is clearly not in the numbers. Seg-

Many times, native whites on the move explain that Miami now feels to them like "a

but so many.

r feel "overwhelmed" by the presence not just of some Spanish-

~’You order a Coke without ice;’ said an executive and mother of three who moved to

diamiin 1996 and asked that her name not be used. "And you get ice. You say

, Starch and

government offices, and they can’t take a decent mes-

~pell your name letter by letter and they get it wrong. They keep saying

  • d ~ue? Que?’ (Spanish for ’What?’) You go to the mall, and you watch as the clerks wait

~peakers before you. It’s like reverse racism. You realize, my God, this is what

," minority."

population feels increasingly beleaguered;’ said George Wilson, a sociolo-

, of Miami who is studying the phenomenon.

at the micro -level,"Wilson continued. "At the malls, in

)f the whites I talk to say they feel challenged by the rapid ethnic and cultural

e. A whole population of whites has gone from a clear majority to a dear minority in a


and a lot of them simply say, ’To hell with this; and move up the road:’

g the beleaguered minorityis creating among some a new consciods-

~ of"white etlmicity;’ and for those who see America’s future as a relatively harmonious mul-

d on shared ideas of capitalism and freedom, this may not bode well.


For if whites do not want to share power and place, or ff they feel increasingly shoved

aside or overwhelmed in the cities and states with high in,migration, they will continue to

vote with their feet, by moving away, creating not a rainbow of citizens, but a more balka-

n!zeal nation, with jobs, university enrollments, public spending, schools all seen through eth-

nic or racial prisms, including among whites.

Several of those interviewed complain that the politics of Miami-Dade are dominated

by th~ issues of the newcomers, particularly the Cuban Americans, who walt for the fall of

Fidel Castro; they see in the city hall, where a number of officials were recently indicted and

convicted of taking kickbacks after it was discovered that the city was broke, a "banana re-

public" of ethnic cronyism; they dislike being referred to in Spanish media as "the Ameri-

cans" by Miami’s Hispanic residents and politicians, as if they were the foreigners.

And many balk at the dominance of Spanish--on television, in official news confer-

ences, on the radio, in schools and meetings and in their day-to-daylives. The movement of

so many whites from Miami-Dade to Broward is viewed by many Hispanics as understand-

able, even natural, though hardly something to be encouraged,

"We had a tremendous exodus of Anglos, especially Anglos who did not feel comfort-

able with the new demographics of Miaml, who were intimidated by the Spaulsh language

and the inflmx of dilferent people," said Eduardo Padron, a Cuban American and president

of the Miami-Dade Community College, "It is a natural trend for them to move out. Many

of them kept wor!dng in Miami, but they found refuge in Broward."

Padron believes the rapidity of demographic changes, and the creation of a Hispanic ma-

jority, was "intimidating" for many whites, particularly those who did not speak any Spanish.

Some whites interviewed say they know they may seem like "whiners;’ as one woman

put it, but they feel they are not being met halfivay by the newcomers, and this is an espe-

cially acute feeling in Miami, where Cuban Americans and other immigrants from Latin

America now dominate the political landscape, serving as city and county mayors and coun-

cil members. Both of Miami’s representatives to Congress are Cuban Americans.

Recent elections reveal that voters in Miami-Dade select candidates along stark racial and

ethnic lines in dessic bloc voting. The 1995 county mayor’s race, pitting Cuban American Alex

Penelas against African American Arthur Teele, Jr., turned almost entirely on demographic

lines, wath exat polls showing that the ovenvhelming majority of Cuban Americans voted for

Penelas, as most blacks voted for Teele. What did whites do? A lot of them did not vote at all.

Over the years, there has been sporadic, organized resistance by whltes in Miami to hold

back the changes. One group, calling itself Citizens of Dade United, was successful in pass-

ing a referendum in 1980 that declared English the "official language" of county govern-

ment. But it was overturned in 1993. Enos Schera, who is a co-founder of the group and

who is now 71, is still filled with vinegar, and says he refuses to move from Miami--though

he says he and his group have received death threats.

"I’m staying to fight this crazy thing," Schera said. "I’m not a bad guy, but I don’t want

to be overrun. They come here and get all the advantages of being in America and then

they insult you right on top of it." He is writing a book about the changes. "That will tell

all," he promises.

But it seems as if Schera is fighting in retreat. He, and his group, have largely been rel-

egated to the role of stubborn whites whose time is over.

Many of the others, like Weston resident Joanne Smith, have already left. "There’s no

room for us in the discussion," said Smith. "It’s like we were the oppressors."

Sarah Boxer ¯ A Remedy for the Rootlessness of Modern Suburban Life? 225

  • d Smith says she likes to eat at Cuban restaurants, has Hispanic neighbors in Weston and



of the newcomers. She herself is the granddaughter of

from Europe. But Smith feels the immigrants should tryharder to understand the

  • - of native Americans. "If they can survive coming here on a raft," she says, "they can

  • d Here at Weston, almost all of the communities are closed with security gates, requiring or be cleared by a guard before entering the enclaves. In addition



a private security firm patrols the neighborhoods. One researcher on the topic, Edward Blakely of the University of Southern California

  • - that gated communities like Weston’s are the fastest growing new de- around the country. Blakely deplores the trend, claiming it creates "fortress citizens, creating walls between "us" and "them." But obviousI B many home buyers like the concept, and many of the residents of Weston one of the things they like most about the neighborhood is its sense of community, of ¯ and the ability of their children to ride their bicycles on the streets. Yet the gates cannot keep demographic change at bay. Though V,vo of every three resi- most of them in their thirties, about one in four are Hispanic. But




e are the most assimilated, often second-generation, solidly middle-class Cuban Amer- icans who come north for the same new schools and golf courses as the white migrants, al-


almost everyone to continue to live within their comfort zone. But not all. As one three-year resident, who declined to give her name, observed,"I keep more and more Spanish in the grocery store. I don’t knowif theylive here or are just

g here. But I started to see some Spanish magazines for sale. Maybe I didn’t move far enough north."



~ Sarah Boxer ~

ATTACKS ON sLmum~ta are as old as cul-de-sacs. Sub- urbs have ahvays been derided as bourgeois, con- sumerist and conformist. But nmv they have become

the enemy of family values, too. That’s right. Karl Zinsmeister, the editor of the conservative magazine The American Enterprise, has s~itten that "suburbia is actually a fairly radical so- disappearance of family time, the weaken-

hag of generationallinks


the anonymity of community life, the rise of radical feminism,

.. the declkae of civic action, the tyrannical dominance of TV and pop culture over leisure time?’ What is to be done? A groupof architects and planners who have named themselves .~ spread of faceless, car-centered

  • l suburbs by promoting friendly, people-centered towns with corner stores and public greens. They call for some old-fashioned things: walkable neighborhoods with a mix of resi- dences, businesses and public places; straight and narrmv streets; wide sidewalks, and no cul de sacs. They believe houses should be built close enough together and dose enough to the sidewalks to define streets and public squares. Above all, they want strong town centers and dear town boundaries. No one, they believe, should live more than a five-minute walk from


most of theh: errands. (Otherwise, what’s to stop people from getting In their cars and dry,

ving?) And like their British counterpart, the Urban Villages Group, the architects favored

by the Prince of Wales, they want to preserve old towns and cities through "inffil;’ building

on unused urban lots.

"No one can be opposed to those principles," said Alex Krieger, a professor of urban

design at Harvard University. They are like "room and apple pie," he said. Yet many new-

urban towns have been scorned as cutesy, regressive and un-urban. The new urbanists~

or neo -t raditionallsts--shonld instead be called the "new suburbanists," some say, because

they are less interested in planning principles than in porches, picket fences and gabled


Seaside, designed in the early 1980’s by Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk and Andres Duany, two

of the founders of new urbanism, is the oldest new-urban town. Built on a stretch of the

Florida panhandle, Seaside was meant to foster community life and beach access. The houses,

a pastiche of historical styles in pastel colors, are set close to one another and connected by

straight brick streets and a network of sand walkways cutting through the middle of each

block. When the town is finished, it is supposed to have 350 houses and 300 apartments, a

school, an open-air market, a town hall, a tennis club, an amphitheater, a post office, and a

number of shops, offices and beach pavillions.

If you’re having trouble picturing it, think of the idyllic town in the movie The Truman

Show. That was no movie set. That was Seaside.

Since Seaside was built, new urbanism has won a lot of fans and building contracts.

There are dozens of new-urban towns and projects built or under construction, including

Celebration in Florida, Laguna West in California and Kentlands in Maryland. The Depart-

.mant of Housing and Urban Development is renovating some of its public housing accord-

mg to new urbanist principles: more porches, more fences, lower buildings, narrower streets.

Jane Jacobs, the author of The Death and Life of GreatAmerican Cities, has praised the move-

ment as "sound" and "promising." And publications from The Sierra Club Yodeler to The

American Enterprise have smiled on the new urbanlsts.

"Bu t....

~s the r particular wsmn of urbamzafion

an innovative model appropriate to the

1st century, M~chelle Thompson_Fawcett asked m thelourna 1 Urban Design lnternaEonal,

"or "s it regressive nostalgia?"

New urbanism is, by definition, nostalgic. Towns built on a human scale, with strong cen-

ters and clear edges, have been around for 5,000 years, said Robert Davis, the developer of

S.easide and the chairman of the new-urban Congress. It is only in the last 50 years, with the

r~se of modernism, he said, that Americans have forgotten how to build them.

The new urbanists want to induce neighborliness with architecture. In this sense they

are utopian. Like the modernist master planners of the 1930’s, they believe social change can

be brought about through architecture and planning. The difference is that most of them

hate modernism.

While the modermsts "tried to get to the future by destroying the past;’ Robert Fishman,

the author of Bourgeois Utopias, said, the new urbanists "are reviving the past in order to

ange the present. That, the new urbamsts think, is why many architecture schools view

them with contempt.

Most schools of architecture are "so in the grips of the modernist ideology and so de-

fensive of the avant-garde that they see the Congress for the New Urbanism as fundamen-

lly conservative, sam Darnel Solomon, a founder of the movement¯ Peter Katz, the author

Sarah Boxer ¯ A Remedy for the Rootlessness of Modern Suburban Life?


The New Urbatiism: Tmvard an Architecture of Community, said that the nation’s most

architects, particularly those in New York, "laugh at the poor souls who live in

an architecture professor at Columbia University, agrees that many cture schools (though he excludes Columbia) have ignored some questions about

[ settlement. But what bothers most professors about the new urbanists, he said, is not ue of suburbia or land settlement. It is their design ideas.

The new-urbanist charter says nothing explicit about what styles are acceptable. Yet be- , new urbanists believe that modernism ruined American cities, nearly all of

on building styles from the past. Kentlands in Maryland is full of Celebration, Disney’s village in Florida, is full of brand new Victorians

Colonials. !’What’s upsetting" about new urbanism, said Mr. Frampton, "is that the imagery is so is based on a "sentimental iconography" as if there were something inher- , good about Victorians, Georgians dnd Colonials and something inherently bad about there were a lot of modernists in the 1930’s who advocated low-rise,

r is a straw he man. said. No Besides, one is advocaring the kind of tearing modernism down that whole the cities new urbanists to make way see for as

"Mr. Framp- "it is not the modern movement but the American bureaucracy that opened the way

,s and suburbanizationY The railroads were deliberately undermined by the an- ,c, he said, adding, !’That was an economic, a capitalist, operation;’ not an

the root of the problem sufficiently, suggested Alex

who has often written about new urbanism for Metropolis magazine. "What new

? do is imitate older communities that existed before the automobile" with-

rid of the automobile. But if you want to return to these older forms of life, he

~ bring back the transportation system?’ If you simply change the way houses

"it’s like changing hemlines:’

o see themselves as radicals, said Mr. Krieger, who was once a sup-

e movement and is now a critic. But, he added, they are "no longer the radical

: but conventional wisdom:’ Developers have begun using the term new urbanism to

sell their projects.

That’s not. to say the movement hasn’t had a good effect, Mr. Krieger said. The Depart-

and Urban Development has dedicated $2.6 billion to "Hope SLx," a ha-

plan to rebuild mid-century public housing according to new urbanist principles.

n Gleveland to Helefia, Mont., high-rise projects are being replaced by town

porches and fences. "That is the part of the movement that most impresses me,"


The problem, Mr. Marshall noted, is that most new-urban developments are not urban

’ are rich developments on the town’s edge."They are sprawl under another name;’

~ are as restrictive as any suburban development. Most are privately run by


making warm and fuzzy dog movies;’ said Evan McKenzie, the author of Privatopia, a book

on housing associations, but "they can take your dog if it makes too much noise."

"It’s as if the people are saying: ’Who needs democracy? It’s utopia already!’" said

Mr. McKenzie.

People are looking for homeyness and safety, and they don’t mind giving up some free-

doms for it. In Kentlands, there is a gate in front of each entry into the development, Mr.

Krieger said. "It’s a decorative gate but it evokes the same associations as a real gate. It’s a sub,

tle form of’Keep Out.’ °

If decorative gates can evoke the same response as real gates, then maybe the look of

neighborliness--porches, wide sidewalks and village greens--can evoke real neighborfi-

ness. Or can it?

The one big criticism about new-urban towns is that they are fake towns. Given that, it’s

curious that the developer of Seaside agreed to let The Truman Show, a movie about a real

man in a false world, be filmed in Seaside. The movie all but said, "~2qis is not really a tmvn

but the shefi of a town, an image of a town," Mr. Krieger said.

After the filming was over, the painted pllavood storefronts that had been put up for the

movie stayed up for months because the developer liked the way theylooked, Mr. Krieger said.

After all, looking like a real town is the next best thing to being one.



IN THE S~RUGGLE TO BUILD new towns and rebuild old

m Whitney Gould B

ones, there’s one issue no one wants to talk about

much: race. Arid when it does come up, people tend to

dance around it or dress it in euphemisms.

At a recent meeting here of the Congress for the New Urbanism, though, race had just

about everyone buzzing--and the guy who started the buzz, writer James Howard Kunstler,

wasn’t even on the program. Kunstler, author of an anti-sprawl polemic titled The Geogra-

phy of Nowhere, popped up from the mostly white audience at a panel on gentrification is-

sues and said blacks should stop blaming their problems on whites. The real chaklenge? "Tell

your kids to be nicer to white people;’ he exhorted. "Turn your baseball hats around, get in-

terested in reading and quit trying to scare everyone:’

A shouting match ensued. And no wonder. Could Kunstler, a middle-aged white guy

and well-known provocateur, not have known how offensive his racial stereotyping would

be? Did he really think that if every black person in America behaved like a well-read

ambassador from Gentleman’s Quarterly or Vogue, lily-white enclaves would suddenly

become rainbow communities? And, as my colleague Eugene Kane observed [on these

pages last week], weren’t those shooters at Columbine High in Colorado a couple of white


In fairness to the New Urbanists, Kunstler was not representative of the four-day gath-

ering, which was earnest and thoughtful. But whatever his intentions, the bull-in-a-china-

shop author in a very crude way did do one useful thing: He brought race front and center

among a group of city-builders who have preferred to keep the spotlight more on the phys-

Whitney Gould ¯ New Urbanism Needs to Keep Racial Issues in Mind 229

aspects of urban revitalization than on the social and economic integration that is cru-

~ the enduring health of communities.

,ortant, to be sure. Street-friendly architecture, slower streets

a rob: of housing, businesses and public spaces all within walking distance: These are the

s of New Urbanism (and Old Urbanism, as well). That approach to de-

can make communities more neighborly, more humanly scaled and less depen-

it on the car. Milwaukee’s new master plan for the downtown grows out of those principles.

New Urbanist communities that I profiled recently, Middleton Hills west of

~ in Milwaukee, show how attractive such subdivisions can be.

Middleton Hills is virtually all white, and CityHomes is overwhelmingly black.

; little evidence that other New Urbanist communities are appreciably more in-

most of the new housing being built in downtown Mflwankee is upscale,

working-class folks and/or minorities pretty much out of the picture. Indeed, cen-

tistics show that 98% of the African-American population in the entire metro area

s in the City of Milwaukee, making this the most segregated of 50 large urban areas in


You can argue, I suppose, that some of this segregation is voluntary: people choosing to folks like themseIves. (Never mind that there are whites and people of color who diversity.) You can argue, too, that this is just the market talking: developers going the money is. (Never mind, too, that there is plenty of money to be made in mLxed-

experts at a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee conference noted recently,

and housing subsidies for years promoted sprawl, with all of its inevitable

n and social inequity.

And today, as builders’ and realtors’ groups push to build smaller, more affordable houses

, they run up against zoning rules that mandate huge minimum lot sizes and

e houses. Even if the intent is not racist, the effect of such rules is both racially and eco-

discriminatory, shutting out worklng-class minorities and whites alike--and this

jobs in the suburbs are going begging.

To wrap such exclusionary zoning in the mantle of environmentalism and the fight

sprawl strains credulity. After all, developers who can’t build in one place will just

v does that promote smarter land use?

We could change all of this if we had the political vfill to do so. Reforming those oner-

rules would be a good place to start. Improving transit links to the suburbs

also help. And we could create new incentives for builders to include more rood-

whether in the city or the suburbs. Let’s be

prison-like public housing, just some attractive

and townhouses that ordinary folks--black and white, young and

None of this would come easily. Such changes inevitably bring up the issue that no one cants to talk about: race. While it may be too much to expect planners and developers to solve inequity, can we not at least hope they won’t make those problems ;ad if New Urbanism, the most progressive planning tool in decades, were to be- come merely an excuse for creating beautifully designed communities as racially alienated as the old ones.



1. What is your opinion of suburbs? Is this based on your own experience or what you

have seen displayed in popular culture?

  • 2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of living in the suburbs?

  • 3. Are there ways of changing the suburbs to eliminate some of the disadvantages?
    4. Do you think the behavior of teenagers is affected by the construction of public space?

  • 5. What assumptions about suburbs are the practitioners of the New Urbanism making? Are those assumptions accurate?

  • 6. Why is the idea of Main Street so attractive to us? Is it built on false assumptions? ~

  • 7. What ages like living in suburbs the best? The least?

  • 8. In what ways do gender, ethnici~, and race play into our ideas about the suburbs?


  • 1. Write a short piece about your experience in the suburbs.

  • 2. What would you say the philosophy of suburban life is? Write a paper articulating what you think this philosophy is.

  • 3. What are the defining architectural ideas behind living in the suburbs? How do these ideas affect the way people live?

  • 4. Drive through a suburban community--both old and new. What do you notice about the public spaces and the way houses look? What do those aspects of the suburbs sug- gest about life there?

  • 5. Write a shor t piece about the positive nature of the suburbs. Are there any cultural texts that would aid in your examination?

    • 6. If you have grown up in the suburbs, think about your relationship to the suburbs at dif_

ferent times in your life. Is there a point at which you remember changing your ideas

about where you live?

  • 7. If you do not live in the suburbs, think about when you realized that there were places .different from where you lived. Think about what you thought about these places grow-

mg up and what you think about them now.


  • 1. Look around your classroom. How do you know it’s a classroom? Of course, there are

the chalkboard and the desks, but what other qualities does this room have that makes

it a classroom? How is it designed? Does it facilitate learning, alertness, and discussion?

  • 2. Walk outside the classroom. What elements identify the walk as a college campus? What

emotions does the walk evoke? Could it be improved?

  • 3. What does the public space outside the classroom building say? Does it identify the

campus as any particular type of school--private, public, urban, rural, suburban? What

would a potential student read into this particular space? Would they be inclined to

come to school or not because of this reading? Why or why not?

Essayldeas 231

What particular place makes you feel the most comfortable? Least? Frightened? WMt is

it about the spaces themseIves that evoke these emotions? Are they human driven or

architecturally or design driven? Can you think of a space that has bad or good mem-

ories driven mostly by the space itselt?

Design the perfect classroom. What would it look like? What would it have in it? Where

would everyone sit? What tools would everyone have? How would being in this class-

room change your learning experience?

Design the perfect building at college. What would it look like? What would it have in it?


uilding as analogy

you of something besides a build-

in 1) its physical construction; 2) the emotional response it encourages; 3) its purpose;

4) its structure? In what way are these disparate elements alike? Different? What does the

z in general say about commonalties of texts generally?

Emotional response

around a building or a public area such as a mall or your school’s common area. What

) you "feel"? What about the place makes you feel such an emotion? Are these effects in- tended or unintended?

versus artistic

dominates this particular building or space--its artistic aspects or commercial ones?

the two work together?

/ [avorlto place

you feel close to and figure out why you feel that way. Is there a place? How would you describe the d~cor? The architecture? Do you feel your attachment to this place--or places like it--is unique?

space "work"?

you think it succeeds on its own terms? What are its "terms"--what crite-

ria is it trying to fulfill? Does is succeed? Why or why not?

person from the space

)ffice or a dorm room or car, or some place that "belongs" to someone. W’hat can

this person from the space? How did you arrive at your judgments? Are there


spaces. What makes them similar? What are their differences? What do

their differences or similarities say about this type of space?

Silverman, Jonathan. ~lhe world is a text : writing, reading, and flfinldng about culture and its contexts / Jonalhmt Silk.mama, Dean Rader.-- 2nd ed.

Includes bibliographical references and index~

1. English language--Rhetoric. 2. Culture--Problems, exercises, etc.

  • 3. Readers--Cugure. 4. Critical thinldng. 5. College readers.

  • 6. Report writing. 7. SemJotlcs. I. Rader. Dean. II. Title.

PE1408.$48785 2006



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