Toward a More Humane Metropolis

Even as metropolitan America has become more populous, more sprawling, more exasperating, and more stratified, a subliminal countervailing trend is beginning to stir. In cities and suburbs across the United States, in both red states and blue, myriad local efforts are under way to make urban communities more amenable to people and nature, in short, to make them more humane. This book and the conference that gave rise to it sample a few of these efforts as harbingers of...

The Democratic Promise of Restoration

Whyte do not loom large in the literature of my field environmental ethics, the branch of ethics devoted to consideration of whether and how there are moral reasons for protecting nonhuman animals and the larger natural environment. Environmental ethics is a very new field of inquiry, only found in academic philosophy departments since the early 1970s. Although there is no accepted reading list of indispensable literature in environmental ethics, certainly any attempt...

Andrew G Wiley Schwartz

If there is a single symbol that sums up the work of William H. Whyte Jr., then it could be of the green bistro chairs scattered over the lawn of midtown Manhattan's Bryant Park. Whyte loved to watch people in a public park or plaza walk up to a movable chair, turn it an inch or two, and then sit down. The moves, he said, were important, not only allowing a person to express himself or herself in what is usually a proscribed environment, but also sending subtle social messages to those nearby....

Urban and Regional Environmental Management

Throughout the historical development of cities, the role and function of nature typically has been defined within the context of its social utility or function. In the United States in the mid-nineteenth century, the importance of promoting nature in cities first emerged with the recognition that parks can provide the social function of enabling urban populations to find relief from the congestion of city life. This goal motivated the work of Frederick Law Olmsted and the development of...

Green Futures for Industrial Brownfields

Once viewed as symbols of urban economic power, older industrial brownfield districts located in inner cores are now perceived as little more than prime examples of urban decay. The list of socioeconomic and environmental ills associated with these districts and their surrounding neighborhoods is an extensive one and includes such blights as high levels of crime, crumbling infrastructure, contaminated soils, vacant buildings, bottom-feeding businesses, and poverty. Indeed, the physical extent...

Deficiencies of Walking Bicycling and Skating Facilities

Although the existence of sidewalks for pedestrians and roads for bicyclists would suggest that the required thirty to ninety minutes of physical activity most days of the week could be achieved, a fine-grained analysis of these environments reveals design flaws. Pedestrians in community centers often do use sidewalks, but if parallel parking is available, many arrive by car and only walk a few feet to stores or eateries. Neighborhood sidewalks exist, but, especially in suburban tracts, they...

Denver Parks No More than Six Blocks from a Park

In Denver, more than nine out of ten residents live within six blocks of a park. This statistic is impressive not only because of the accessibility that it represents but also because Denver has obtained such data. Geography is everything, explains Susan Baird, manager of the Master Plan Process for Denver Parks and Recreation. With park access as the project's focus, Baird worked with consultants on a geographic information system analysis that went beyond a neighborhood analysis all the way...

The New York New Jersey Metropolitan Area Experience

Handel Interest in restoring urban ecological services and biodiversity is a growing part of modern biology. To protect and restore ecological services in urban areas, two approaches are being tried. Conservation biology seeks to keep relatively intact remnants of our plant and animal communities from being destroyed. This conservation tradition dates back about one hundred years and is now a significant academic and public policy pursuit. Restoration ecology, a...

Scientific Basis for Better Building

High-performance design requires quantifying sensual environmental qualities within the design development process of each new project. Evaluations such as analysis of daylight and energy modeling reveal ambient conditions not depicted in conventional architectural drawings. LEED rating requires computer modeling studies to verify energy efficiency by illustrating the effects of mechanical heating, ventilation, and cooling within simulated spaces. With such analytical information, designers can...

Designing Civic Delight

As an astute observer and critic of city design, William H. Whyte sought to describe the sources of delightful urban experiences, even in the context of higher levels of density. While advocating government policies to control development, he nevertheless championed architectural innovation and public participation in place of uniform regulatory conventions. Whyte called for comprehensive analysis of urban conditions through empirical observation of site-specific conditions, scientific data,...

The Changing Roles of City Parks

The total area covered by urban parkland in the United States has never been counted, but it certainly exceeds one million acres. The fifty largest cities (not including their suburbs) alone contain more than 600,000 acres, with parks ranging in size from the jewellike 1.7-acre Post Office Square in Boston to the gargantuan 24,000-acre Franklin Mountain State Park in El Paso. The exact number of annual visitors has not been calculated either, but it is known that the most popular major parks,...

Privatization and Legal Compliance

Although the mid-1970s zoning amendments improved the initial quality of most outdoor spaces and discretionary review generally enhanced the design of indoor spaces, neither arrested the problem of illegal privatization of public spaces. Based on field surveys during 1998 and 1999, roughly one-half of all buildings with public space were found to be noncompliant with legal requirements concerning public access, private use, or provision of amenities.39 Ironically, the better-designed, post-1975...

Benefits of Urban Parks

Urban parks and open spaces are essential for the ecological health of urban environments (Platt, Rowntree, and Muick 1994). These urban greenspaces include traditional parks as well as other public greenspaces such as nature preserves, plazas, and cemeteries. The Humane Metropolis relies on its city and regional parks to provide vital ecological benefits, including cleaning air and water systems, cooling the urban heat island, and providing wildlife habitat (Spirn 1984 Hough 1994). It is...

Accounting for Daylight

With an eye to sunlight, shadow, and the nuances of reflected light, Whyte noted the symbiotic relationship of building size to the successful social atmosphere of sunlit public parks and plazas. Dispelling developers' claims that shadows cast upon the shadows of other buildings were inconsequential to the quality of urban light, Whyte demonstrated how the shadows of each new building cumulatively darken the surrounding cityscape. In response to rampant real estate speculation, he insisted that...

Philadelphia Green and Philadelphia Parks Alliance

There may or may not be brotherly love In Philadelphia, but there certainly Is love of parks. The city has 138 friends of parks organizations two of them operating on a citywide basis and the rest focusing on one particular park or playground. The largest organization is Philadelphia Green, a division of the venerable Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, which began in 1974 as a community vegetable gardening project and today is an urban greening powerhouse with a staff of twenty-eight and a...

Extreme Green

The curators of the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., invited our firm to speculate on the environmental design of very large buildings for an exhibition they were planning entitled Big and Green.12 Given the timing of this assignment, we could not help but be influenced by the design of the World Trade Center, whose destruction our entire staff had witnessed. Despite the ensuing skepticism concerning tall buildings in terms of safety, desirability, and symbolism,13 we remembered...

The Organization Man in the Twentyfirst Century

Popper In his first great book, The Organization Man, William H. Whyte (1956) offered a new perspective on how post-World War II American society had redefined itself. Whyte's 1950s America had replaced the Protestant ethic of individualism and entrepreneurialism with a social ethic that stressed cooperation and management the individual subsumed within the organization. It was the age of middle management, what Whyte thought of as the rank and file of leadership,...

Reference

H2O Highlands to ocean. Morristown, NJ Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. Among their many functions, parks in cities serve as gathering spaces where people may participate in shared civic experience including demonstrations, celebrations, and grieving. (Top) A gathering in Jackson Park on the Chicago lakefront to protest the Vietnam War, circa 1970 (a NIKE anti-aircraft battery was hidden behind the chain-link fence). (Bottom) The Vietnam Memorial on the Mall in...

Timothy Beatley

In few other parts of the world is there as much interest in urban sustainability as in Europe, especially northern and northwestern Europe. Many European cities are pushing the envelope of urban sustainability, undertaking a variety of impressive actions, projects, and innovative policies to reduce their ecological footprints as well as to enhance long-term livability. For several years, I have been researching innovative sustainability practices in European cities, with many of the exemplary...

Race Poverty and the Humane Metropolis

1942 Uruguay

The truth is, I hadn't thought much about William H. Whyte for almost a decade until Rutherford Platt came to my office to discuss a conference on the humane metropolis, celebrating Whyte's life and work. I explained to him that I have long been dismayed that most writers I had read on urban design seemed to have little understanding of the role that issues of race had played in the shaping of the nation's cities and land policies. I told him that I had been enthusiastic about the writings of...

Design Considerations for the Humane Metropolis

It was not with malice that parks, such as Central Park, were created distant from the low-income population who had only Sunday as a day of rest. The future would bring a variety of affordable transportation forms for all populations to arrive at Central Park. Parks were intentionally separated from commerce because of the teams of wagons and horses delivering goods to the stores and pollution in association with trades such as the slaughtering yards in Chicago. People were not overweight...

The Milwaukee River Experience

A National Resource Council study, New Strategies for America's Watersheds, reports, Successful watershed management strives for a better balance between ecosystem and watershed integrity and provision of human social and economic goals (NRC 1999, 270). That is, contemporary urban watershed management must recognize and achieve balance between multiple goals, strategies, and interests, including those of both people and nature. To achieve these ends, new approaches to watershed management...

Urban Biosphere Reserve Sites

The integration of the biosphere reserve concept into the urban landscape is underway in several cities throughout the world. Current sites are found in Sao Paulo, Brazil Arganeraie, Morocco California's San Francisco Bay area Kristianstad, Sweden Rome, Italy Cape Town, South Africa and Melbourne and the Greater Canberra region in Australia. The Chicago Wilderness network is also considering applying for BR status (Sholtes 2003) for the Chicago area, and a movement has developed in Turkey to...

The New York Metropolitan Region Framework of Environmental Management

The New York Metropolitan Region (NYMR) as defined by the Regional Plan Association encompasses thirty-one counties in three states with a total population of about 21.5 million, of which nearly one-third live in New York City. New York City has a population density of about 10,204 people per square kilometer, as compared with only 422 people per square kilometer for the rest of the region. Jurisdic-tionally fragmented, in addition to the thirty-one counties, there are some 1,600 cities, towns,...

Greening Cities

Increasingly, ordinary citizens are seeking ways to raise awareness about the ways buildings affect nature. The accumulated magnitude of apparently benign norms, such as electric lighting, is causing insidious environmental problems. Research now points to night light pollution as a serious disturbance to the biological clocks of humans as well as the nesting and migration habits of birds and animals.8 Airborne emissions from midwestern coal-fired power plants used to supply electricity is...

Strategies for Nurturing Attachment to Urban Parks

Strategies for promoting a connection between the public and their parks include (1) understanding existing park features and uses, (2) improving visibility and perceptions of safety, (3) incorporating design features that promote park use, (4) providing opportunities for the public to adopt their parks as part of volunteer stewardship programs, and (5) making small-scale improvements. These strategies are discussed in turn. Understanding Existing Park Features and Uses Using the physician's...

Seven Measures of an Excellent City Park System

Wild areas do not automatically protect themselves from development, outmoded waterfronts do not spontaneously sprout flowers and promenades, and flat ground does not morph into ball fields. Even trees and flora of the desired species do not spontaneously grow in the right places. Interested citizens must identify the goals of the park system, including functions to be served, management, and landscaping. The parks department must then use that mandate as a...

City Form Neighborhoods and Parks

In 1895, the New York State legislature appropriated 5 million to condemn certain tenements and create small parks in the crowded slums of Manhattan. The population at the time was not necessarily overweight, but people were in desperate need of more sanitary conditions than those available in a city that was 30 percent more crowded than Prague, Europe's least livable city (Scott 1969). The social reform movement, through physical environmental determinism, thus sought to improve the health...

Calibrating the Law to Improve Design

The record of outdoor privately owned public spaces (plazas, urban plazas, and residential plazas) convincingly demonstrates the power of law to fashion good and bad outcomes, and to be adjusted over time to reflect evaluation of results. The study revealed a chronological fault line in the quality of space created before and after the mid- 1970s, when the city significantly amended the original 1961 zoning incentive resolution. To this day, most of the plazas of the 1960s and early 1970s are...

Research on What Causes Attachment to Urban Parks

A study of three urban parks and natural areas in Ann Arbor, Michigan, provides insights into what factors may contribute to people's attachment for urban parks (Ryan 1997, 2000, 2005). In particular, this study focused on the influence of park use (i.e., experience) and the place itself (i.e., the physical attributes of the place) on the public's attachment to these parks. An important contribution of this study was to expand the traditional definition of park user, as used by Whyte and other...

As access to country beyond metropolitan areas gets ever more distant

And frustrating, existing parks and other preserved greenspaces within reach of the four-fifths of Americans who live in metro areas become increasingly vital. Accordingly, Part II addresses one of William Whyte's favorite topics city parks and regional greenspaces. Who better to open this section of the book than Peter Harnik, one of the founders of the Rails to Trails Conservancy and now director of the Green Cities Program based at the Washington, D.C., office of the Trust for Public Land....

Qualitative Results

Although the quantity of privately owned public space produced under the program has been impressive, the qualitative record is disappointing. The study classified the 503 privately owned public spaces by five use categories destination, neighborhood, hiatus, circulation, and marginal spaces.12 Based on a site-by-site survey, the study found that more than four out of ten spaces were marginal, that is, they did not serve any public use. Destination space was defined as high-quality public space...

Green Urbanism Compact and Ecological Urban Form

Although European cities have become more decentralized, they are typically still more compact and dense than U.S. cities. This tighter urban form helps make local sustainability initiatives more feasible in terms of, for example, public transit, walkability, and energy efficiency. There are many factors that explain this urban form, including an historic pattern of compact villages and cities, a limited land base, and different cultural attitudes about land. Nevertheless, in the cities studied...

Some Lessons and Observations

European cities thus offer inspiration and lessons for cities elsewhere, including the United States. A few observations and lessons follow. Government as catalyst and leader. European cities display a strong role for municipal governments in shaping sustainable futures. They tend to assume activist and catalytic roles in diverse ways. For instance, they exert considerable control over the use of land and the type, quality, and nature of private development. They typically acquire or already...

Sustainability Programs in the South Bronx

The South Bronx in New York City has the reputation of being a haven for drugs, prostitutes, and drag racing. Because of community intervention, however, its reputation is shifting. Today, a number of community programs are working to ameliorate social, economic, and environmental inequalities that are rampant in the South Bronx. There are different definitions as to where the South Bronx begins. At the most southern part of the Bronx is Hunts Point. The neighborhood is generally broken into...

The Biosphere Reserve Concept Promise and Limitations

Another model of regional environmental management is the biosphere reserve concept. This concept has been put into practice at more than four hundred sites in more than ninety countries since 1971 (UNESCO 1996). As of 2003, there were forty-seven designated sites in the United States. To date, the biosphere reserve concept has mostly been applied to wilderness or rural sites away from major settlements, although several reserves already exist in urban fringe locations. For example, the Golden...

Intense Green

This section reviews four specific examples of green architecture at urban densities, two in Europe and two in New York, where all three of the following aspects are in evidence 1. Sustainable architecture strives for a functioning building stock that does not impose a net environmental cost on future generations or elsewhere in the region or on the globe, minimizing ecological footprint effects in both space and time. Sustainable buildings encourage physical health through their design and...

Fortress America

It says stay out and it also says, We are wealthy and you guys are not, and this gate shall establish the difference. J af fe 1992 What attracts people, most, it would appear, is other people urban spaces are being designed, as though the opposite were true. W hyte 1978, 16 The ability to exclude is a new hallmark for the new public space in the United States. Fear created by a rising tide of immigrants and random violence ranging from the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, to the snipers...

Renewable Energy and Closed Loop Cities

A number of the cities seek to promote a more closed-loop or natural urban metabolism in which wastes become inputs or food for other urban processes. Stockholm has administratively reorganized its departments of waste, water, and energy into a combined ecocycles division. A number of actions have already been taken, including the harvesting of bio-gas from sewage sludge and its use as a fuel for the city's combined heat and power plants. A number of Swedish cities also are using bio-gas from...