Main Streets are Obsolete

Over at the blog for the Natural Resources Defense Council, Kaid Benfield asserts that we may have a sentimental attachment to an urban form that doesn’t work any more:  traditional main streets.  This is a rather contrarian approach from someone from a “tree hugging” organization:

The places in America that still have successful Main Streets likely have special economic circumstances, such as a tourist economy, a truly remote location, or a surrounding or nearby wealthy suburb whose residents like the historic, walkable atmosphere for certain occasions but go to the mall or a big-box to buy clothing or electronics.

  But should we care?  A by-the-numbers environmentalist may not have a reason to:  if land consumption is reasonably limited by new models, if places are walkable and reduce car trips and emissions by placing shops, services and people close together, if they are well located (and especially if also transit-served), why worry if someone’s sentimental bit of Americana isn’t what it used to be?  There’s no need for a horse-and-buggy or an icebox anymore; maybe we no longer need a barbershop next to a children’s clothing store next to an insurance office, either.

We’ve discussed the continued relevancy of main streets  before.  While we don’t necessarily agree with Mr. Benfield, this is a refreshing counterweight.  You can read the full post here.

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