Imitation Purple Flavor

6 thoughts on “Imitation Purple Flavor”

  1. There’s been a trend here in California for aging strip malls to be gentrified (e.g. Whole Foods becomes the anchor tenant) and/or revived by ethnic businesses. Or they are all out replaced by mixed-use developments so you have sort of an urban-esque shopping experience attached to a car-lite housing option.

    Do you think these solutions are only financially viable in pricey coastal areas? What do you see as the end game (in say, 2050) for this kind of development nationwide? Personally I think it’s going to be a wide spectrum ranging from total abandonment to continual renewal highly dependent on local context down to the block level.

    1. I’ll poke at this topic in a post soon. Basically triage is going to happen – either by design, or more likely by happenstance. Some suburbs will be in the right place at the right time and won’t need to change anything in order to remain viable. Most will not be so lucky. They will either lose market value and political clout and decline – or they will gain market value and thicken and urbanize in a clumsy half-assed manner with a lot of NIMBY kicking and screaming. Pick your poison.

      1. Historically, going back to Roman times, suburbs have been there alongside cities, as people seek privacy, space and lower costs to realize their own “castle” or “villa” dream. I think that’s human nature to a certain extent. Over long periods of time, these burbs are often absorbed into the urban fabric. It’s already happened in London and Berlin and it’s now happening in Los Angeles.

        The question in my mind is whether this time is different. Is post 1960 auto-dependent development just so unsustainable and unsual that the historical pattern will not repeat?.

        1. Yes. Absolutely. Suburbs have always existed and many mature into excellent places over time. But suburbs are also the most vulnerable parts of any region. The countryside may be impoverished, but it is generally self-sustaining – even if it is just subsistence. City centers are where money and power concentrate so they are the last to truly die when everything goes horribly wrong with civilization. But the suburbs are dependent on both the spill over wealth and complexity of the city and raw materials from the countryside. The long term future of most auto-oriented sprawl is to revert to countryside or form clumps of traditional urbanism. It might take a century or more. Or various shocks might speed up the process. Henderson, Nevada is toast in thirty years as far as I’m concerned. Conshohocken, Pennsylvania might surprise us and thrive over time. Who knows?

  2. I thought until I got to the end that this was going to be a critique of new urbanist developments like Seaside, Celebration, Kentlands, etc. since they’re usually cited for being somewhat sterile, non-successional, and sometimes a bit too precious and arguably non-authentic. A valid criticism worthy of further analysis, but not really that big a problem compared to the alternatives. Using the food analogy, they’re good enough for most people, and while many might not know exactly what’s “off” they do know that something isn’t quite right.

    I guess you could say that traditional, pre-industrial historic traditional cities are like a good restaurant-prepared filet mignon. 19th century hypertrophic urbanism that makes up most North American cities and many non-medieval parts of European cities are like a brisket, which can be good but needs a fair bit of work to make it so. The suburbs are, like mentioned, basically Jell-O, or I might suggest SpaghettiOs, not even in the same food group, and stripped of nearly all nutrients.

    1. Well said! Nothing wrong with brisket by the way. I think most people would be very happy if they had brisket as a serious option. The real trouble is that so many folks have been born and raised on Pop Tarts, Jello-O, and McNuggets that they really don’t know there are other options out there.

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