Here are two great books recently published on why we need walkable cities and a little history of the boulevard as we know it.
Jeff Speck has dedicated his career to determining what makes cities thrive. And he has boiled it down to one key factor: walkability.
The very idea of a modern metropolis evokes visions of bustling sidewalks, vital mass transit, and a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly urban core. But in the typical American city, the car is still king, and downtown is a place that’s easy to drive to but often not worth arriving at.
Making walkability happen is relatively easy and cheap; seeing exactly what needs to be done is the trick. In this essential new book, Speck reveals the invisible workings of the city, how simple decisions have cascading effects, and how we can all make the right choices for our communities.
Bursting with sharp observations and real-world examples, giving key insight into what urban planners actually do and how places can and do change, Walkable City lays out a practical, necessary, and eminently achievable vision of how to make our normal American cities great again.
First built in Europe and grandly imported to the United States in the mid-nineteenth century, the classic multiway boulevard has been in decline for many years, victim of a narrowly focused approach to street design that views unencumbered vehicular traffic flow as the highest priority. The American preoccupation with destination and speed has made multiway boulevards increasingly rare as artifacts of the urban landscape. This book reintroduces the boulevard, tree-lined and with separate realms for through traffic and for slow-paced vehicular-pedestrian movement, as an important and often crucial feature of both historic and contemporary cities. It presents more than fifty boulevards?-as varied as Avenue Montaigne, in Paris; C. G. Road, in Ahmedabad, India; and The Esplanade, in Chico, California — celebrating their usefulness and beauty. It discusses their history and evolution, the misconceptions that led to their near-demise in the United States, and their potential as a modern street type.Based on wide research, The Boulevard Book examines the safety of these streets and offers design guidelines for professionals, scholars, and community decision makers. Extensive plans, cross sections, and perspective drawings permit visual comparisons. The book shows how multiway boulevards respond to many issues that are central to urban life, including livability, mobility, safety, interest, economic opportunity, mass transit, and open space.