- Hardcover: 560 pages
- Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional; 2 edition (June 19, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0071373675
- ISBN-13: 978-0071373678
- Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 1.6 x 11.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 11 customer reviews
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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- #230 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Public Affairs & Policy > Regional Planning
- #1368 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Public Affairs & Policy > City Planning & Urban Development
- #1388 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Urban Planning & Development
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The American City : What Works, What Doesn't 2nd Edition
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Garvin has served on various urban planning and development commissions in New York City and has taught an American cities course at Yale for nearly 30 years. He brings both working and teaching perspectives to this lively, well-illustrated, multidisciplinary history of two centuries of city planning. Garvin analyzes more than 250 projects and programs in 100 cities, assessing, as his subtitle indicates, what works and what has failed. The main thrust of much of Garvin's well-reasoned and carefully documented overview is a defense of urban planning; he believes that controversies over unsuccessful redevelopment projects have generated cynicism and negativity out of proportion to the facts. Many plans have succeeded in cities such as Chicago, Pittsburgh, Portland, and Charleston, and Garvin is eager to identify and celebrate them. He evaluates parks, monumental public structures (e.g., libraries, museums, and convention centers), and large-scale redevelopment projects. Garvin also discusses subsidized housing, planned communities, suburban development, rehabbing, and historic preservation. This is a vital resource for everyone interested in cities. Donna Seaman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
In February, when urban planner and veteran City Hall insider Alexander Garvin was tapped to oversee the rebuilding of lower Manhattan, all the local papers hit the same historical note. "Not since Robert Moses imposed his single-minded mark on the region decades ago," the Daily News wrote, "has an individual been asked to lead the re-creation of such a crucial swath of real estate."
Ah, the ghost of New York's "master builder." There's no purging him, is there? Even as clean-up workers were still unearthing human remains from Ground Zero, pressure was building on Garvin to hurry up and deliver a master reconstruction plan in a New York minute -- long-term consequences be damned.
This month, just as Garvin plunges forward with a design that will remake Manhattan on a Moses-like scale, McGraw-Hill is reissuing a newly updated version of his critically acclaimed 1995 book, The American City: What Works, What Doesn't. If Garvin's blueprint for a revitalized downtown reflects the urban philosophy he's sketched out in his book, New Yorkers need not fret the second coming of Robert Moses.
Garvin's credo is straightforward: "Only when a project also has a beneficial impact on the surrounding community can it be considered successful planning. For him, there is no singular, shining model of urban planning that can be carbon-copied; a particular region, city, or neighborhood has its own distinct features and assets that need to be capitalized on by a given project.
Encyclopedic in scale, The American City is a sweeping survey of more than 250 urban and suburban revitalization projects in America. To fine-tune his recipe for a successful formula, Garvin casts his eye over the last hundred years. He cites Chicago's creation of a lakeshore network of parks in the early 1900s -- which spurred a residential housing boom -- as one successful example. Historic preservation, as it was pioneered by Charleston and New Orleans in the mid-20th Century, is another kind.
Portland's recent rebirth also embodies, to Garvin, another successful model -- and on a much larger and fuller scale. After the city invested in a riverfront park, mass transit (a light-rail system), and walkable streets, the business community responded in kind, resulting in a boomlet of retail stores, office buildings, hotels, and apartment houses.
"Thus," Garvin concludes, "urban planning should be defined as public action that will produce a sustained and widespread private market reaction." In particular, he indicts Moses' brand of redevelopment as producing the opposite effect, because many of his colossal structures -- such as the recently razed New York Coliseum and the superblock housing projects -- resulted in a form of de facto segregation, in which residents in the area were effectively cut off from their neighbors. "This separation," Garvin writes, prevents any redevelopment benefits from "spilling over into surrounding neighborhoods and thus stimulating further private activity."
A well-respected professor of planning and architecture at Yale University, Garvin's ethos is part Frederick Law Olmsted, part Jane Jacobs: he's passionate about parks and open space but he's also an ardent proponent of mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented neighborhoods. The dapper academic, who favors bowties, is also no ivory-tower theorist; he's been a member of the New York City Planning Commission for the last seven years, and from 1970 to 1980, he served in city government as deputy commissioner of housing and director of comprehensive planning. Perhaps most importantly, nothing in Garvin's book or career suggests he is about to turn into a 21st century public works despot a la Moses. (City Limits 2002-06-01)
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Since most of the original edition was actually completed by 1990, it did not include the last decade of development in the fast-changing world of urban thinking. In this second edition, Mr. Garvin brings his study of the city into the twenty-first century, including examples, issues, and trends that did not exist at the time the first edition was written. More strikingly, however, he has also succeeded in reorganizing and restating his original material-sometimes subtly, and sometimes more extensively-in even more powerful and effective ways. But whether it is the almost completely new chapter on Retail Shopping, or the only mostly preserved gem from the first edition on Parks and Playgrounds, all of the clarity and vitality so characteristic of Mr. Garvin's writing are enhanced in this new edition. The new edition also features numerous new photographs-a particular treat to the many readers who especially appreciate the masterful way he has illustrated his points with visual images, virtually all taken by Mr. Garvin himself. (Since he is firmly committed to the principle that one actually has to experience and explore in person the environments one is studying, the author makes sure to use images that reflect his own personal vision, which fortunately for us is as artistically pleasing as it is intellectually informative.)
Whether one wishes to understand the history of American cities, learn the principles of real estate development, research the trends in government involvement in housing and urban renewal, get insight into why particular undertakings in particular cities worked or failed, or, most excitingly, sense the incredible complexity and interaction of all those forces (historical, political, architectural, legislative, sociological, economic, etc.) that determine and describe the life of the city, this book is a must-read-and one that is as enjoyable as it is informative and enlightening.
Garvin summarizes each discussion in terms of market, location, design, financing, entrepreneurship, and time. Time can mean either longer term effects, or the objective of having space utilized at various times of day for various purposes (something Jane Jacobs emphasizes). Financing and entrepreneurship both relate to the ability to carry a project through to success; financing includes longer term maintenance if a project is not self supporting. A park can be self supporting in the sense of increasing city revenue through real estate and other taxes. Market and location relate to a need for a project to satisfy or create demand, quite different things. In a place like Manhattan, where there was a lack of housing, self contained sites like Cooper Village or Tudor City, which utilized eminent domain to create more apartments at a price which was affordable, were successful. However, in general, Garvin emphasizes "spillage": a project should encourage additional private investment, and a project which is too self contained, satisfying all its user's needs, is generally not useful; think of many, but not all, sports stadiums.