recentpopularlog in

robertogreco : anthonyflint   2

The Medellín Hype Machine - Anthony Flint - The Atlantic Cities
"Naturally, it’s time for a backlash.

OK, that might be a bit strong. More like healthy skepticism, because the sense of an urban utopia, fighting its way out of such terrible conditions, can be a bit overpowering. What’s also at work is what might be called Medellín Envy. There are signs, for instance, that urban violence is still rampant, a fact one planner from Bogotá pointed out at this week's forum. At the same time, city officials say the murder rate has been reduced 92 percent, which seems a hard figure to quibble with. Bogotá, a city of 8 million, was doing innovative planning work years before Medellín, but has in recent years drifted out of the spotlight.

Interventions can be second-guessed as too little or too much, or even just a little other-worldly. The stretch of the cable car line from Santo Domingo and the Spain Library seems like an awful lot of infrastructure to get to a park for horseback riding and hiking trails. At the 20 Julio neighborhood near San Javier, festive music plays as one ascends on a series of shiny new escalators right out of a suburban shopping mall. In advance of the World Urban Forum, residents were encouraged – or maybe instructed, as one colleague mused -- to paint their homes in bright colors. The project cost $8 million.

A cynic might find the "Metro culture" -- where there is zero tolerance for fights or graffiti on the world-class system of trains, bus rapid transit and the cable cars, and there is a strict code for giving up seats to the elderly – as overweening, an attempt by planners to control behavior. But it seems to work. The metro is efficient and spotless.

One other factor that raises questions about the transferability of Medellín's innovations is something that doesn’t come up often: the powerhouse public utility company EPM, which provides millions in revenue for the municipality.

The people who showed me around this week were very proud of what has happened in Medellín. I’ve been on a lot of such tours, and that might be the problem. The challenges of cities are so dramatic, one is always on guard for being shown miracles. At the Jardin Circunvalar, I had the most devilish thought – that the perfect family walking their dog, and the grandfather who cheerfully said buenas tardes, might have been part of some elaborate stagecraft for our benefit. (I had a similar feeling when I was given a tour of a hutong in Beijing last year).

But of course they weren’t actors. They were real, just like the kids behind them, sashaying down the pristine tiled pathway winding through the trees, high above the city."
medellín  colombia  cities  2014  anthonyflint  medellin 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Robert Moses vs. Jane Jacobs - WNYC
On not focusing on differences: "I think this focus on their clash does both of them something of a disservice ... We can fall into a trap thinking that 50 years later what we need to be doing is choosing sides in a battle." --Owen Gutfruend

On Moses' character: "He became an unchecked power that was counterproductive in many ways. He was meanspirited, he was megalomaniacal." --Owen Gutfruend

On changing how we talk about transportation: "Look at the nomenclature ... People still talk about, and journalists write about, investing in highways and subsidizing transit. Now, it seems to me we could do it the other way around. We could invest in transit because we've been subsidizing highways since the 1950s." --Roberta Brandes Gratz
nyc  janejacobs  robertmoses  via:tealtan  2010  cities  urban  urbanism  transportation  infrastructure  owengutfruend  cars  freeways  robertabrandesgratz  anthonyflint 
may 2013 by robertogreco

Copy this bookmark:





to read