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Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design Hardcover – November 12, 2013
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From Publishers Weekly
Top Customer Reviews
It comes from Enrique and Guillermo Penalosa from Bogota, Colombia. And the amazing thing is that Enrique Penalosa (past mayor of Bogota) is a career politician.
Find out what generally makes people happy in a city, then construct the city that way. What an idea. Again as you might expect, what makes people happy is generally NOT what said people think will make them happy. Think of the number of times that you thought a new thing--house, car, music player, large screen TV--would make you happy. And then things were pretty much the same within a couple of weeks of getting said thing.
What makes you happy is more likely to be a continuing series of experiences, and most likely experiences with other people. If the way your neighborhood is constructed and managed isolates you from people, you'll have fewer experiences and less happiness. But uncontrolled interaction might be just as bad as no interaction. Details matter.
This book is merely an introduction to the idea, but lots of us need the introduction, to learn another way of thinking about the subject. It's only about eleven bucks for your Kindle or Kindle app--buy it and read it.
The main argument: The modern city owes much of its current design to two major trends or `movements' that have emerged since the time of the industrial revolution. The first trend traces back to the industrial revolution itself, when the appearance of smoke-billowing factories (and egregiously dirty slums) necessitated new solutions to the problem of how to organize city life. The answer--still reflected in cities all over the world--was to compartmentalize functions, such that industrial areas, shopping areas, office areas, and living areas were separated off from one another into distinct blocks of the city.
The second trend in urban design took full hold in the post-war era, with the rise of the suburbs. In a sense, the suburbs represent a continuation and intensification of the compartmentalization movement, as the living areas of the upper classes were separated-off still further from the other areas of the city--out into sprawling districts miles away (as automobiles made it possible for certain city dwellers to escape to an idealized haven away from the hustle and bustle).
While the suburban movement has had the bulk of its impact on the landscape outside of the city proper, the city itself has not been spared of its influence. For indeed, the city was gutted of many of the inhabitants that formerly occupied it; and, what's more, it has been reshaped by the roads and freeways introduced to shuttle-in the suburbanites from their faraway destinations.Read more ›
Nevertheless, I recommend Happy Cities as a lively book filled with fresh and unexpected examples of what the best cities in the world can offer. The author captures what to me is the essential feature of the city, which is its graceful and dynamic ad hoc choreography. Montgomery gives a detailed and vivid description of public transportation systems that serve the whole gamut of city-dwellers. In Paris, you are never more than five minutes away from a transport option. You can step on a bus, stride along the sidewalk to find a near-by metro station, alight and rent a bicycle, turn it in and take a stroll through the park. Any such network does indeed create a joyful tie of solidarity between users.
The question remains: For whom this attractive situation? Who is left out and why? Is it a failure of planning and imagination, really? Whether you live in a city or not, I expect you might feel something is missing in Montgomery's idealized picture.
I highly recommend it for any urban studies nerd, and would encourage you to additionally read Walkable City and Street Smarts as companion pieces. Between those three books, they do a great job of giving you the history, the science, the statistics, and the possibilities for the future of smart, happy, walkable cities.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
For someone who's never spent much time on urban design or city planning, this book used fun stories, real-life examples, and facts to show how to build better communities.Published 6 months ago by Charles J Schwartz
Super interesting explanation of why cities are the way they are and how they might be changed.Published 7 months ago by SFlyte
It is a great book for student who study urban design. Even this is a book for my class, I enjoy reading it every time. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Duke Nguyen
Charles Montgomery has turned his research and writing talents to urban design and written a book that is fascinating from cover to cover. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Cathryn Wellner
Happy City by Charles Montgomery is a free Goodreads FirstReads advance reader copy of a paperback book that I began reading in mid-December during Christmas vacay in Tucson. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Kristine Fisher
Happy City is an interesting and intriguing read, taking the reader through a tour of urban design, innovation, and different ways of thinking about what makes us happy. Read morePublished 11 months ago by E. Payseur
It's was brand new and came faster than expected- thank you!Published 12 months ago by Shanice Raschilla