People PlacesBook Notes by John December

This is the People Places book section. These books are about making places more attuned to the needs of people. Topics include works in urban criticism, planning, architecture, transit, cultural geography, and demographics. Click on the titles for a separate book notes page that contains a short review I wrote and provides more information and links.

Shifting Gears: Toward a New Way of Thinking about Transportation
by Susan Handy
This book draws from multiple threads of research, history, and practices to shine a light on shifts happening in core ideas about transportation: Freedom, Speed, Mobility, Vehicles, Capacity, Hierarchy, Separation, Control, and Technology.

The Lost Subways of North America: A Cartographic Guide to the Past, Present, and What Might Have Been
by Jake Berman
This book shows diagrams of transit systems from the past, imagined, proposed, and built, and also describes the forces at play in North American transit history.

Inclusive transportation: a manifesto for repairing divided communities
by Veronica O. Davis
Davis shows how the values of decision-makers set how transportation networks work and that more inclusive transportation networks may grow by examining the deeper, historical, and restorative needs for equity.

Carmageddon: How Cars Make Life Worse and What to Do About It
by Daniel Knowles
This book provides a wake-up call to the way automobile-centric development has made our cities less livable.

Paved paradise: how parking explains the world
by Henry Grabar
This book provides vivid accounts of people struggling with all aspects of parking policies, including equity and belonging, and traces the scholarship and rethinking that may release cities from the Gordian knot of automobile parking.

Happy city: transforming our lives through urban design
by Charles Montgomery
This book calls for a full embrace of happiness in cities as an urban design goal--including the complexity, diversity, density, and emotional connections that have held the fascination of humans for millennia.

Confessions of a Recovering Engineer: Transportation for a Strong Town
by Charles Marohn
This book is the personal account of a professional engineer and city planner who questions the assumptions of his profession and calls for overturning the orthodoxy of traffic volume and speeds as the ultimate in transportation engineering.

Strong towns: a bottom-up revolution to rebuild American prosperity
by Charles Marohn
This book challenges the past century of city planning, development, engineering, and the people and professions complicit with the drift toward less resilient cities.

Autonorama: The Illusory Promise of High-Tech Driving
by Peter D. Norton
A succession of technofuturistic visions promising an automobile-centric utopia have laid claim not just on urban space but on time itself--the future of transportation. These visions have never been about transportation but about growing car dependency.

Fighting traffic: the dawn of the motor age in the American city
by Peter D. Norton
A century of effort, starting in the 1920's, transformed thinking about the American city and its street space to place the automobile as the apex of transportation.

Arbitrary Lines: How Zoning Broke the American City and How to Fix It
by M. Nolan Gray
Zoning has been a means to "break" the American city by limiting what can be built, where it can be built, and for whom. The author calls for an abolishment of zoning and instead offers alternatives to unleash the power of cities.

City: rediscovering the center
by William H. Whyte
Through a study of pedestrian behavior and dynamics, principally on Manhattan sidewalks, Whyte observes the attraction of people toward each other and the center--an agora of streets and plazas.

Bootstrap New Urbanism: Design, Race, and Redevelopment in Milwaukee
by Joseph A. Rodriguez
Rodriguez re-examines the history and discourse patterns in Milwaukee's urban issues and finds an underappreciation for the diverse urban strategies undertaken in the city.

The New Urban Crisis: How Our Cities Are Increasing Inequality, Deepening Segregation, and Failing the Middle Class-and What We Can Do About It
by Richard Florida
Florida examines the new urban crises and advocates for an urbanism for all in which investments in clustering, infrastructure, affordable housing, worker skillsets, people, and places work.

Trains, Buses, People: An Opinionated Atlas of US Transit
by Christof Spieler
Presents profiles of 47 US metropolitan areas that had, at its writing, rail transit or Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and comes with a remarkable, concise overview of transit concepts and an agenda for the future of transit.*excellent*

Parking and the City
by Donald C. Shoup
An exploration of the economics of parking in cities with a summary of Shoup's 2005 book, The High Cost of Free Parking and new chapters on removing off-street parking requirements, charge the right prices for on-street parking, and parking benefits districts. *excellent*

The High Cost of Free Parking
by Donald C. Shoup
Shines the light on parking, shows how misguided policies drain cities of vitality, and advocates for fair-market prices for curb parking, the return of the resulting revenue to neighborhoods for public improvements, and the removal of requirements for off-street parking. *excellent*

Streetfight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution
by Janette Sadik-Khan and Seth Solomonow
By identifying how people could make better use of the entire space of the street in safer, more efficient, more equitable, and more productive ways, the author and her team achieved remarkably fast and significant improvements in safety, crime reduction, business improvement, transit choices, and quality of life for citizens. *excellent*

Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream
by Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and Jeff Speck
Discusses the vitality of neighborhoods as improved by connections, mixed uses, human-scale and transit-friendly spaces.

The Option of Urbanism: Investing in a New American Dream
by Christopher B. Leinberger
Leinberger describes the option of walkable urbanism (human mobility-oriented land use, city design, transportation, and architectural emphasis) in this book, making a very clear and readable case for allowing human-oriented living environments.

Why I Walk: Taking a Step in the Right Direction
by Kevin Klinkenberg
The author states his personal reasons for why he walks for fun and transportation and the resulting benefits he sees in his life. He advocates for cities to be designed so that others have choices for walking.

Why We Drive: The Past, Present, and Future of Automobiles in America
by Andy Singer
Public policy and economic interests have invested in car culture at the expense of human culture.

Dead End: Suburban Sprawl and the Rebirth of American Urbanism
by Benjamin Ross
Land use policies restrict the power to unleash the inherent strength of cities.

Charter of the New Urbanism (Second Edition)
edited by Emily Talen
New Urbanism collects knowledge and practice to transform the built environment of the region, neighborhood, and block in order to strengthen economic vitality, community, and environment.

Green Metropolis: Why Living Smaller, Living Closer, and Driving Less are the Keys to Sustainability
by David Owen
Owen reveals dense cities like New York City as paragons of environmental sustainability.

How Cities Work: Suburbs, Sprawl, and the Roads Not Taken
by Alex Marshall
Shows how cities work by the confluence of people and goods moved about and concentrated by transit and how 20th century cities have focused on just one transit mode, automobiles, to the exclusion of others.

by John Reader
Explores 7,000 years of human history in making cities and shows that the results are messy and all-too human, but that a diversity of approaches and allowing emergent activities and interactions to give the city life seems a successful approach.

Parking Reform Made Easy
by Richard W. Willson
Provides practical guideance to unleash the strength of cities.

Where We Want to Live: Reclaiming Infrastructure for a New Generation of Cities
by Ryan Gravel
Shows how how a strong and resilient community can form around infrastructure through the development of the Atlanta Beltline

Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier by Edward L. Glaeser
Advocates for the city as the way toward health, wealth, and prosperity as long as false choices are not followed and the support of human imagination and interaction is maintained.

Asphalt Nation: How the Automobile Took over America, and How We Can Take It Back
by Jane Holtz Kay
Critiques the over-dependence on the automobile.

Sprawl Kills: How Blandburbs Steal Your Time, Health, and Money
by Joel S. Hirschhorn
Critiques the political system that favors sprawl.

Waiting on a Train: The Embattled Future of Passenger Rail Service--A Year Spent Riding across America
by James McCommons
Provides an overview of passenger rail, showing the public policy and operational issues involved while at the same time evoking the experience of train travel.

If Cars Could Talk: Essays on Urbanism
by William H. Fain
An architect and urban designer presents essays on urbanism.

The Cul-de-Sac Syndrome: Turning Around the Unsustainable American Dream
by John F. Wasik
Identifies the delusions leading to high resource use inherent in the housing bubble of the early 20th century and suggests alternatives in sustainable communities centered on the human scale.

Urban Street Design Guide
by National Association of City Transportation Officials
It is possible to design city streets that are usable for a variety of users and uses.

My Kind of Transit: Rethinking Public Transportation in America
by Darrin Nordahl
Public transportation should delight its clientele with vehicles and interiors that serve well as public spaces and connect community members to the cultural landscape as well as each other.

After the Car
by Kingsley Dennis and John Urry
Shows how the car system is inherently unstable and may eventually yield to a more diverse system of mobility worldwide.

The New Geography: How the digital revolution is reshaping the American landscape
by Joel Kotkin
Discusses the transformation of urban areas from manufacturing and middle class enclaves to boutiques, showcases, and stages attractive to mobile digital and symbol workers.

A Certain Somewhere: Writers on the Places They Remember Edited by Robert Wilson
Collected essays by writers telling about the special places they have come to love. The missing manual of modernism.

Making Places Special
by Gene Bunnell
Makes a case for planning as a positive force in making a sense of place, but emphasizes the visual appeal of places over substantial reform of automobile-centric thinking.

The Great Inversion and the Future of the American City
by Alan Ehrenhalt
Some people are choosing to live in urban areas versus suburban areas, reversing a long period of urban decline and suburban growth.

The Trap: Selling Out to Stay Afloat in Winner-Take-All America
by Daniel Brook
People struggle to maintain a high-end lifestyle that conforms to their aspirations and education.

Notes on Cities and the Creative Class
by Richard Florida
Attempts to document his central thesis that "creativity has become the principal driving force in the growth and development of cities, regions, and nations" (p. 1).

Who's Your City?: How the Creative Economy Is Making Where to Live the Most Important Decision of Your Life
by Richard Florida
Creative people cluster to gain value--productivity, economies of scale, and knowledge-sharing--from proximity.

The Rise of the Creative Class And How It's Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life
by Richard Florida
Describes a class of people, termed the Creative Class, which Florida claims are the key to economic development.

A Whole New Mind
by Daniel Pink
Presents aptitudes for Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play, and Meaning as key to future success in a conceptual age.

The Culture Code
by Clotaire Rapaille
Claims archetype experiences of products and services can be captured in a code useful for marketing.

Ecotopia: The notebooks and reports of William Weston
by Ernest Callenbach
Fictional account of ecologically-sustainable society reflecting hippie social sensibility but also a comprehensive approach to sustainable transportation and affordable housing.

Streets for People a Primer for Americans
by Bernard Rudofsky
Documents pedestrian-oriented activities and the types of streets and street features which have centuries of demonstrated success.

Crossing the Expendable Landscape
by Bettina Drew
Provides a deeply personal perspective on a variety of built environments and reveals some insights about urbanism.

Edge City: Life on the New Frontier
by Joel Garreau
Shows how Edge Cities--conglomerations of mixed-use buildings and grounds that often grow at major highway intersections--fulfill many of the same functions that traditional cities have served for thousands of years.

The Geography Of Nowhere: The Rise And Decline of America's Man-Made Landscape
by James Howard Kunstler
Critiques suburban and urban forms of the late 20th century and argues for human-scale architecture and urban planning.

Home from Nowhere: Remaking our everyday world for the 21st century
by James Howard Kunstler
Provides a personal and social context for challenges of public space, open space, and meaningful and human-scale urban forms.

The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition
by James Howard Kunstler
Tour of the urban history, cultural geography, and architecture in eight cities showing how the twentieth century city has often been terribly brutal to people--unnecessarily--through ignorance of history and human needs.

The End of the Suburbs: Where the American Dream Is Moving
by Leigh Gallagher
Suburbs no longer attract as much money, attention, or interest as they have in the past because of demographic, economic, and cultural changes.

1001 Buildings You Must See Before You Die: The World's Architectural Masterpieces
by Mark Irving (Editor)
Tour of notable stops in architecture worldwide over 5,000 years but with 47% 20th-century content (and bias).

The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of the Oil Age, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-first Century
by James Howard Kunstler
Oil will get scarce and expensive, collapsing the way of life dependent upon it.

The Great Good Place: Cafes, Coffee Shops, Bookstores, Bars, Hair Salons, and Other Hangouts at the Heart of a Community
by Ray Oldenburg
Informal social gathering places, Third Places, form and support environments where people can meet social needs for balance in their life and expanded social networks for ideas.

The wealth of cities: Revitalizing the centers of American life
by John O. Norquist.
Main point: human-centered cities can re-ignite the dynamic energy inherent in urban areas. The author was mayor of Milwaukee, Wisconsin from 1988 to the end of 2003, and became president of the Congress for the New Urbanism.

City-Building in America
by Anthony M. Orum.
Main point: the building of cities is marked not just by the conflict between city growth and social equity, but also a life cycle that can be summarized by stages of growth and decline made more dramatic by city v. suburban conflicts.

The City: A Global History
by Joel Kotkin
Cities succeed when they can serve and balance needs for sacredness, security, and commerce.

Global City Blues
by Daniel Solomon
Moderism can be undone by re-orienting thinking about and building cities based on human experience and a sense of place.

Ecology of Fear
by Mike Davis
The natural, imaginative, and urban environment of LA works in a system of doom in which fear ultimately produces a combustible urban standoff.

The Experience of Place: A New Way of Looking at and Dealing With our Radically Changing Cities and Countryside
by Tony Hiss
People have a continuity of experience of places that can inform architecture and urban design.

Shadow Cities: A Billion Squatters, A New Urban World
by Robert Neuwirth
People build shelter illegally when they cannot obtain it otherwise. The resulting squatter settlements have grown to be a significant proportion of the world's population.

Dark Age Ahead
by Jane Jacobs
Inattention to problems related to families, higher education, science, tax policy, and professional integrity may have dire consequences for communities.

Ideal Cities
by Ruth Eaton
Ideal city ideas often seemed marked by a obsessive symmetry out of sync with human needs and preferences.

Life 2.0
by Rich Karlgaard
Flyover country can have its benefits: lower costs, appealing lifestyles, and business-enabling economies.

The Clustered World
by Michael J. Weiss
Geodemographics reveals how people who share similar lifestyle and consumer preferences tend to live together and the resulting patterns can reveal neighborhood makeup as well as marketing insights.

Get Urban!: The Complete Guide to City Living
by Kyle Ezell
Urban living can be a joy when you pick a place that matches your personality and reflects the diversity and human-scale ideals of urbanity.

A Better Place to Live: Reshaping the American Suburb (Paperback)
by Philip Langdon
The author suggests an approach in which historically-proven successful urban forms are used as guidelines for present needs, with a strong focus on human-scale architecture, mixed land-use policies, and multi-modal transit options.

The Strip: An American Place
by Richard P. Horwitz
Examines strip development in Iowa in the late 70's and the struggles of the workers there to balance their individuality with an increasingly rationalized business environment.

American Mania: When More Is Not Enough
by Peter C. Whybrow
Human brain chemistry lures people into the modern paradox of anxiety with abundance.

Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software
by Steven Johnson
Individual action adds up to more than the sum of its parts in emergence.

Neon Metropolis: How Las Vegas Started the Twenty-First Century
by Hal Rothman
Las Vegas develops from an obscure desert settlement to world entertainment capital in about a century.

Miami: City of the Future
by T. D. Allman
Explores Miami's history and transformation over time. The author participates in and immerses himself in Miami's vices, places, people, and fast times of the mid-1980's "Miami Vice" era.

The Next American Metropolis: Ecology, Community, and the American Dream
by Peter Calthorpe

Repairing the American Metropolis: Common Place Revisited
by Doug Kelbaugh
Describes the built environment and design patterns used to shape it including New Urbanism, Everyday Urbanism, and Post Urbanism. Calls for public policy to reinvigorate urban centers, end automobile-centric policies, provide for regional and local transit, plan regionally, encourage granny-flats and live-work units in housing, and get funding/taxing policies congruent with supporting urbanism as opposed to sprawl and waste.

Sustainability and Cities: Overcoming Automobile Dependence
by Peter Newman, Jeffrey Kenworthy
Examines cities throughout the world and shows how enabling less dependence on automobiles can help the sustainability of cities.

The city after the automobile: An architect's vision
by Moshe Safdie
Develops its main point in the first 2/3 of the book, "As cars shaped the city, so the city itself is now shaped to require cars." (p. 127) Describes alternates to the private car: a U-car (utility car) which seems little more than a short-term rental car; and a linear city design including a retractable roof atrium and moving sidewalks.

A Sense of place, a sense of time
by John Brinckerhoff Jackson
Argues that community sense comes from interaction rather than static, specilized dwellings.
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2024-04-21 · John December · Terms ©