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Streets and the Shaping of Towns and Cities [Paperback]

by Michael Southworth, Eran Ben-Joseph
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 27, 2003 1559639164 978-1559639163

The topic of streets and street design is of compelling interest today as public officials, developers, and community activists seek to reshape urban patterns to achieve more sustainable forms of growth and development. Streets and the Shaping of Towns and Cities traces ideas about street design and layout back to the early industrial era in London suburbs and then on through their institutionalization in housing and transportation planning in the United States. It critiques the situation we are in and suggests some ways out that are less rigidly controlled, more flexible, and responsive to local conditions.

Originally published in 1997, this edition includes a new introduction that addresses topics of current interest including revised standards from the Institute of Transportation Engineers; changes in city plans and development standards following New Urbanist, Smart Growth, and sustainability principles; traffic calming; and ecologically oriented street design.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

How Street Design can Make--or Break--a Community! How do street standards and layouts affect neighborhood character and livability?; How did residential street design standards come to exist and how have they changed over time?; How do residential street design approaches differ, from the winding paths of early picturesque suburbs or the openness and flow of the checkerboard grid, to the disconnected privacy of branching cul-de-sacs or the communal space of shared street?; What strategies and street design guidelines can designers, planners, and engineers use to reduce sprawl and reestablish a sense of community space? These are just some of the thought-provoking issues that are addressed in this unique, extensively illustrated book that explores the major impact that the design and layout of residential streets has on the character and quality of cities and suburbs. The authors examine the changing nature of street design in America and Great Britain over the past two centuries, showing how streets have changed over the years in response to social concerns and new technology, as well as aesthetic values. Drawing on the lessons learned from over 140 illustrative examples of streets and street patterns, the authors go on to recommend an approach to residential street design that is less rigidly controlled and more flexible, and that responds to local conditions. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Michael Southworth is professor of city design and planning at the University of California, Berkeley.

Eran Ben-Joseph is assistant professor of landscape architecture and planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Island Press (June 27, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559639164
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559639163
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 7.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,774,297 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
This books describes the history and evolution of residential streets in the US and Britain. It remains very objective, until the last chapter when the authors push for the shared streets concept. As a transportation planning professional, I found it very informative and compelling. It did the impossible: it changed my mind on the value of cul-de-sacs.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book September 10, 2012
Format:Hardcover
This book gives a wide hstoric overview on the street. I consider that this book is mandatory of every Urban Planner, and why no of some Transportations Engineers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening but academic! August 27, 2009
Format:Paperback
After a very brief reference to Antiquity and the Renaissance, the authors present the history of suburban street lay-outs in the United States from the 19th century to the present. This overlaps to a great extent with the history of urban planning in general and is thus potentially greatly interesting. Unfortunately, the focus is strictly suburban and no mention is made, say, of Savannah's, Philadelphia's or New York City's famous street patterns.

The authors include a critique of neo-traditional grids, surprising arguments in favour of cul-de-sacs and a pledge in favour of shared streets.

Regrettably, the writing style is tediously academic and technical, with unnecessary long quotations and enumerations. Though the book is abundantly illustrated with plans and photos, the former are extremely small and the latter, in black and white, are poorly reproduced. Indeed, the graphics and lay-out are surprisingly bland given today's computer age expectations.

Overall, this short work appears like a collage of various academic papers and will be worthwhile only to those very highly interested in the history of suburban development in the United States.
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