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Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time Paperback – November 12, 2013
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“A delightful, insightful, irreverent work.” ―The Christian Science Monitor
“If Jane Jacobs invented a new urbanism, Walkable City is its perfect complement, a commonsense twenty-first-century user's manual.” ―Kurt Andersen, host of Studio 360 and author of True Believers
“A recipe for vibrant street life.” ―Los Angeles Times
“Refreshing, lively and engaging . . . Walkable City isn't a harangue, it's a fun, readable and persuasive call to arms.” ―Steven Litt, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)
“Everyone interested in improving the quality of city life should read this book and heed its lessons.” ―John Strawn, The Sunday Oregonian
“Among the perennial flood of books on urban design in all its forms, this one stands out.” ―John King, San Francisco Chronicle
“Walkable City is an energetic, feisty book, one that never contents itself with polite generalities. Sometimes breezy and anecdotal yet always logical and amply researched, this is one of the best books to appear this year. Speck deserves the widest possible readership.” ―Philip Langdon, Better! Cities & Towns
“Walkable City . . . will change the way you see cities.” ―Kaid Benfield, The Atlantic Cities
“Jeff Speck, AICP, is one of the few practitioners and writers in the field who can make a 312-page book on a basic planning concept seem too short . . . For getting planning ideas into the thinking and the daily life of U.S. cities, this is the book.” ―Planning magazine
“Jeff Speck's brilliant and entertaining book reminds us that, in America, the exception could easily become the rule. Mayors, planners, and citizens need look no further for a powerful and achievable vision of how to make our ordinary cities great again.” ―Joseph P. Riley, mayor of Charleston, S.C.
“Cities are the future of the human race, and Jeff Speck knows how to make them work. In Walkable City, he persuasively explains how to create rational urban spaces and improve quality of life by containing the number one vector of global environmental catastrophe: the automobile.” ―David Owen, staff writer at The New Yorker and author of Green Metropolis
“Companionable and disarmingly candid, Jeff Speck perches on your shoulder and gets you to see your community with fresh eyes. He gradually builds a compelling case for walkability as the essential distillation of a vast trove of knowledge about urbanism and placemaking. The case he makes has you both nodding at the intuitive and seemingly obvious wisdom presented, and shaking your head at why those basic principles of fixing our cities have eluded us for so long.” ―Harriet Tregoning, founder of the National Smart Growth Network
“Jeff Speck understands a key fact about great cities, which is that their streets matter more than their buildings. And he understands a key fact about great streets, which is that the people who walk along them matter more than the cars that drive through them. Walkable City is an eloquent ode to the livable city and to the values behind it.” ―Paul Goldberger, Pulitzer Prize–winning architecture critic and author of Why Architecture Matters
“With Walkable City, Jeff Speck demonstrates why he is among the most relevant and engaging writers on urban design today.” ―Ron Bogle, president and CEO of the American Architectural Foundation
“When I speak around the country, people ask me what is the first thing they should do to start their community on the path of smart growth. I will now say: Read Jeff Speck's Walkable City.” ―Parris Glendening, governor of Maryland (1995–2003) and president of Smart Growth America's Leadership Institute
“Truly a book that is so very needed, Walkable City moves theory into action. We now know we need to build walkable urban places for all sorts of economic, social, and environmental reasons. Jeff Speck shows how to do it in the same clear style we came to love in the classic Suburban Nation.” ―Christopher B. Leinberger, visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution and author of The Option of Urbanism
Top Customer Reviews
Wrong. This book is packed with astute insights into what makes for livable, lovable communities. Speck's genius, I think, is finding connections between seemingly disparate urban phenomena. And offering solutions that are pragmatic, implementable, and so, so...SIMPLE that it is hard to believe we have gotten it so wrong for so long.
I wish this book came out when I was wrapping up my latest book Making Transit Fun!: How to Entice Motorists from Their Cars (and onto their feet, a bike, or bus). My book is pretty good ;-) But it would have been better had I had Speck's book before mine went to press.
Best of all, Speck's literary style is engaging. This book is an easy read, an inspiring read, and a compelling read. I thought I was just going to flip through a few pages, maybe read a chapter or two, and then place it on my shelf alongside the dozens of other planning books. Wrong again. I was surprised how quickly I became absorbed in this book. Most planning books are drier than butter-less popcorn. Speck's book glides down the gullet with flavor.
I was particularly engaged by the three "E" features that were coming together: epidemiology, environment, and economics--that were clearly all in favor of urban density, mixed use, and transit oriented development (where it is appropriate). The book backs up these things with evidence on each count.
And then about a month later at a city meeting, here he was again. He's been working with my city planners in Somerville MA to turn our city into the top tier of walkable cities in the US. We are at the right place and right time: we are about to get several MBTA train stations, and currently have the chance to plan and strategize around them.
He acknowledges that we were born on 3rd base (and I don't dispute this). But he has evidence and methods that can help us be an incredibly walkable city. I think he has the goods. I hope we can act on it.
Certainly I have to admit that this book is delightful in part because it matches all of my cognitive bias (heh). I love cities (especially older ones), and I would love to live almost entirely without a car. Many of the examples he uses as both good and bad scenarios are places I've lived--so I know his facts are solid on those. But the text contains enough data and references that you can check the information with other sources, look at images on the web, and see that the story holds.
I wish it had contained more photographic evidence of some of the features he describes.Read more ›
However, I have certain problems with his vision. They aren't completely dispositive, and are limited largely to one chapter, so future innovations will probably answer my doubts. However, my problems reflect the limitations Speck and his fellow big-city architects haven't acknowledged about their lofty goals, and they'll need resolved before Speck's "Walkable City" vision becomes widespread. Otherwise, they'll create new expenses further down the line.
Speck divides his spirited, informative, often funny book into two parts. The first is essentially a manifesto about why pedestrian-friendly urban cores matter. He points us toward a "general theory of walkability" and makes three concise, lucid points:
1. When people walk, they have opportunities to meet new people, see new places, and have new experiences; when people drive, they zoom past real life.
2. When people walk as a useful enterprise, they use their bodies productively; when people drive, they spend their most productive hours sitting down, and get fat.
3. When people walk, they don't contribute to environmental decay; when people drive, every little errand burns carbon.
Counter-arguments readily avail themselves, but Speck slaps them down quickly.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It's a great read, not sure about some of the conclusions, but it is fun to read.Published 14 days ago by Joshkw
One of my favorite books. I often liken it to Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time" insofar as it takes a huge and complex topic, in this case urban design, and... Read morePublished 18 days ago by Ryan Leith
Great book. Very interesting. It covers a lot more than just walking.Published 26 days ago by Amazon Customer
Want to attract and retain new business, empty-nesters, and Millennials to your city? Invest to make your city more walkable, says city planner Jeff Speck. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Monica L. Williams
These planning concepts are great, as long as the city has the political will to implement walkability into the zoning ordinances. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Paul F. Canorro
Every Planning Board member, every Town/City Council member and every Planner should read this before their next vote. Great insights!Published 2 months ago by Michael Hoffman
Can't wait to see your vision come to life for downtown Tampa! Amazing testament to the power of smart design.Published 2 months ago by amozon river