Friday, November 19, 2004

a to ...

Within the past week or so, I attended a State of the City address for one of our area's wealthiest towns and I went to a viewing at a funeral home in one of our small, poor rural towns. By the glib naming of media, both are squarely, proudly Red state areas. They are worlds apart.

I am less interested in economic theories than I am in observing these two different places. The first was in a catering hall, and everyone was dressed in business suits. The formalities of the organization's luncheons were carried out -- announcements, awards, raffles. And then the mayor talked, using a powerpoint presentation.

The city believes in mixed usage of residential and business, wants to emphasize walking districts, and of course cultural activities. Buildings should be kept to five stories or so in keeping with human scale. All the civic buildings are based on Colonial American architecture. But there have been complaints about the overwhelming sameness of red brick.

He showed a picture of a pastel pink Georgian building from London. See, he said, Georgian doesn't have to be strictly red-brick. And, I thought, we don't have to borrow British baroque architecture, either.

The new shopping district, is mall-less, looking much more like a 1940s or 1950s business district, with some parking in the front, and larger spaces tucked away. His point -- and its a strong one -- with the coming of the automobile, we threw away much of what we knew about how cities are built and laid out. Scale, the ability to walk, mixing residence and business.

No comments: