Street Smart: The Rise of Cities and the Fall of Cars 1st Edition
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Nobody is more qualified to write a book about transportation than Schwartz.” City Journal
"A delightful new book." Michael Sorkin, The Nation
An engaging trip down memory lane, where trolleys and pedestrians and bicycles intersect and collide with cars in what Schwartz calls an accident of history,' replete with a promising path toward a multi-modal urban revival.” MoveNY
"Schwartz sees the writing on the asphalt, even if the federal government, intent on building ever more highways, does not. The future isn't on four wheels. If you want your area to attract young people, entrepreneurs, and capital, you have to make it walkable." Downtown Express―-
A snappy read [Schwartz's] account of President Eisenhower's creation of the interstate highway system is riveting, as is his informed discussion of the rise and fall of streetcars.” Wall Street Journal
Schwartz chronicles in Street Smart the history of urban transportation in the U.S. (growing up in Brooklyn, he has lived through a lot of it). He takes a strong stand, in some cases calling upon personal experiences that streets belong to communities, not cars, and that sustainable transportation planning is helping to revitalize cities.” Chicago Tribune―-
About the Author
William Rosen is a former editor and publisher at Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, and The Free Press. He has contributed to the Wall Street Journal, the American Interest, Lapham's Quarterly, the New Atlantic, the Washington Post Book World, Bloomberg, and Smithsonian's Echoes, and is the author of Justinian's Flea: The First Great Plague and the End of the Roman Empire (Viking), The Most Powerful Idea in the World: A Story of Steam, Industry, and Invention (Random House) and The Third Horseman: Climate Change and the Great Famine of the 14th Century (Viking).
- Item Weight : 1.18 pounds
- Hardcover : 312 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9781610395649
- ISBN-13 : 978-1610395649
- Dimensions : 6.5 x 1.13 x 9.5 inches
- Publisher : PublicAffairs; 1st edition (September 8, 2015)
- Language: : English
- ASIN : 1610395646
- Best Sellers Rank: #835,691 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The first half of the book is historical: expect to learn about the great engineering marvel and transportation failure of Robert Moses' Cross-Bronx Expressway, the political and economic reasons (as opposed to the oft-cited social reasons) behind the 50s white flight phenomenon, and other fascinating stories concerning the past 100 years of transit development. Schwartz's magic in this section is the "behind the scenes" perspective, prompting the casual reader (such as myself) to think about the issues like a transportation engineer rather than like a consumer.
The second half of the book concerns the future, and does so by describing unique aspects of transit systems and traffic planning in other cities throughout the country, peppered with anecdotes from Schwartz's work as a consultant. Although I found this portion a little weaker than the NYC historical review (though I admit I am a biased reader who purchased the book out of interest in NYC's infrastructure), it was interesting to learn about the transit systems in other cities. The section about self-driving cars was especially insightful, for the same reasons as the historical portion -- it approached the topic from the perspective of a transportation engineer rather than the perspective of a technologist or consumer.
The reasons I didn't rate the book 5 stars were: I found the section on Millenials and the benefits of walking a little bit unnecessarily long, although I understand why Schwartz would include it assuming an older target audience. I also would have appreciated more details, both historical and technical, in some sections, even if those details risk boring or alienating a more casual reader.
If you're looking for a very easy to read introduction to the broad world of transportation and its political, social, and economic state within the country (or specifically NYC), then I highly recommend this book. If you're looking for a detailed introduction to transportation engineering, this might not be the right place to begin, although it might serve as motivational material to dig deeper.
In regards to content, his descriptions are thorough and open minded. Despite what many may think, the book is not a complete attack on cars, but rather an exploration of the benefits of reducing car presence in densely populated areas and making other forms of transportation more appealing. He still acknowledges the role cars fill and their importance to the transportation sector.
I would recommend this book to anyone who's curious in how transportation works in a city, places with state of the art transportation systems, and what the future of commuting and traveling can be.