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The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America's Man-Made Landscape Paperback – July 26, 1994
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About the Author
- Item Weight : 9.9 ounces
- Paperback : 304 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9780671888251
- ISBN-13 : 978-0671888251
- Product Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.44 inches
- Publisher : Free Press (July 26, 1994)
- Language: : English
- ASIN : 0671888250
- Best Sellers Rank: #89,422 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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This book was a marvel to read also because it was written over twenty years ago and is still dead on in its analysis. Post 2008 recession who could argue credibly otherwise? My hope is that millennials will wake up and break the cycle of suburban home buying.
My awakening began in the early 2000 when I got a job working housing construction then later landscaping and later again installing storm doors and windows. Entire suburban neighbourhoods throughout the Midwest are essentially empty and lack any character or soul. There is no community, and no one is around except on weekends. It,s a social and economic disaster. Everyone just works or stays inside getting fatter, more diabetic, and watching their TVs endlessly.
It,s time for an overhaul. Washington, D.C., NY, and Portland hopefully are leading the way. The future of urban design will about creating the framework for organically grown towns, cities, and communities. The suburbs are death and dying.
Starting out slow but building momentum with each page turned, topics in 'The Geography of Nowhere' range from architectural history to city planning as it chronicles the growth of suburbs and urban sprawl, as well as the decline of small towns and the family farms replaced by industrial agri-business. All of these changes to the American landscape are a result of our dependence on petroleum fuels.
Mr. Kunstler demonstrates that a public policy dominated by the automobile makers as early as the 1920's dictated the growth of our current infrastructure. Public forms of transportation such as the trolly system were edged out as suburbs began to spread, and our over-reliance on the personal automobile commenced. White flight from urban to suburban areas in the 1950's and 1960's continued the trend, creating the problems that confront urban areas today as they struggle with ways to renovate down town areas.
In these pages a student of community planning will find out more about topics shunned from public discourse such as redlining – the spurning of investment in some of America's most needy areas. For those seeking out histories of the development of specific communities; they can find them here as Mr. Kunstler provides case studies of the communities of Portland Oregon, Los Angeles, Atlantic City, Saratoga New York, among others. Furthermore, readers seeking answers to that all-pervading sense of same-ville everywhere that they travel will find them in Mr. Kunstler's history of building design.
Besides illustrating the growth of our dependence on oil, and the economic problems that are its result, 'The Geography of Nowhere,' also documents how we have spoiled America's greatest treasure, its landscape. Instead, we have turned it into a toon-scape, creating the sense of disconnection and alienation that is prevalent in America today.
It is Mr. Kunstler's wit and sarcasm that keeps the reader turning the pages even as we become more horrified at the picture that he draws, and the looming catastrophe that he predicts if we don't change our strategies toward development; or our assumptions about how to use our resources. Readers who follow him to the end are provided with his remedy for our current crises.
Mr. Kunstler advocates urban planning that emphasizes relationship, and connection. He would like to see cities that are individualized in design, providing those that reside within a sense of place. He advocates communities with a renewed sense of purpose. Furthermore, he seeks to promote development that builds on instead of destroying local economies. He pursues development that is sustainable, ending our dependence on fossil fuels.
For me, the movie 'Detropia,' was a graphic portrayal of the message that Mr. Kunstler seeks to convey. 'Detropia,' illustrates the decline of Detroit after the slump of it's auto industry. Its fortunes linked to the auto industry, the city had its heyday in the 1940's through the 1960's before beginning it's slow descent due to competition with foreign made cars. The viewer is confronted with images of a ghost town and the anomie experienced by those who remain.
Experts were already predicting the end of cheap oil in 1973. Now, it is over forty years later and our culture has yet to make the systemic changes necessary. In addition, we have exported our oil dependency overseas through our international development practices. Readers reaching the end of 'Geography of Nowhere,' and reflecting on it will be compelled to ask whether our future is to be like 'Detropia?' Or can we still find a cure for our common problems before it is too late?
Top reviews from other countries
About a decade and a half before that, he wrote the Geography of Nowhere. The book swings between chapters offering careful historical analysis of the factors which led to the development of modern North American sprawl, and chapters bristling with the biting sarcasm and fomentation seen in the talk. As long as this oscillation in style is chalked up as a genuine expression of the author's feelings as well as thoughts, rather than a flaw or inconsistency, then the reader is unlikely to be disappointed with the book, if not the urban environment it so accurately and painfully describes.