Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time
Jeff Speck has spent his career determining what makes a city work, and he has boiled it down to one essential factor: walkability. For urban life to thrive, cities must prioritize pedestrians over cars. Six-lane highways tearing through downtown must give way to crossable streets, massive parking lots must give way to pedestrian plazas, architecture designed to be appreciated from afar must give way to welcoming buildings. Making all of this happen is relatively easy and cheap; seeing what needs to be done is the trick. Speck can show us the invisible workings underneath the city, how simple decisions have cascading effects, and how we can make the right decisions for our cities. Cities have been recognized as the key to sustainable living. But New York, San Francisco, Chicago, D.C. - these are not the next great American cities, and they are not where the future of urban life will be formed. Most Americans live in midsize cities - Lowell, Massachusetts; Tacoma, Washington; Grand Rapids, Michigan - that need downtowns that are vibrant and appealing; they need to feel like the urban hubs that they are. They need walkability. Bursting with sharp observations and real-world examples, giving key insight to what urban planners actually do and how cities can and do change, "Walkable City" lays out a practical, necessary, and eminently achievable vision of how to make our American cities work.
"Jeff Speck, AICP, is one of the few practitioners and writers in the field who can make a 312-page book on a basic planning concept seem too short . . . For getting planning ideas into the thinking and the daily life of U.S. cities, this is the book." --"Planning" magazine "Jeff Speck's brilliant and entertaining book reminds us that, in America, the exception could easily become the rule. Mayors, planners, and citizens need look no further for a powerful and achievable vision of how to make our ordinary cities great again." --Joseph P. Riley, mayor of Charleston, S.C. ""City planning" and "urban development" are phrases almost guaranteed to bore and confuse regular people. Which is weird, given that cities are the least boring places on earth. Fortunately, Jeff Speck is a deeply knowledgeable, charming, and jargon-free visionary, a profoundly pragmatic person brimming with common sense everybody can use to improve their own lives as well as their towns and cities. If Jane Jacobs invented a new urbanism, "Walkable City" is its perfect complement, a commonsense twenty-first-century user's manual." --Kurt Andersen, host of "Studio 360" and author of "True Believers ""Cities are the future of the human race, and Jeff Speck knows how to make them work. In "Walkable City," he persuasively explains how to create rational urban spaces and improve quality of life by containing the number one vector of global environmental catastrophe: the automobile." --David Owen, staff writer at "The New Yorker" and author of "Green Metropolis ""Companionable and disarmingly candid, Jeff Speck perches on your shoulder and gets you to see your community with fresh eyes. He gradually builds a compelling case for walkability as the essential distillation of a vast trove of knowledge about urbanism and placemaking. The case he makes has you both nodding at the intuitive and seemingly obvious wisdom presented, and shaking your head at why those basic principlesn
Jeff Speck, coauthor of the landmark bestseller "Suburban Nation," is a city planner who advocates for smart growth and sustainable design. As the former director of design at the National Endowment for the Arts, he oversaw the Mayors' Institute on City Design, where he worked with dozens of American mayors on their most pressing city planning challenges. He leads a design practice based in Washington, D.C.