Monday, September 7, 2009

How Sidewalks Bring about Safety

"It does not take many incidents of violence on a City street, or in a city district to make people fear the streets. And as they fear them, they use them less, which makes the streets still more unsafe."

Every time an article in the Tulsa World newspaper online talks about downtown you can quickly see in the comments section that there is a complete misconception about how downtown streets and sidewalks are unsafe. The television news stations with their constant fear mongering reports have only intensified this. I think about Chicago which had far more scary homeless people but I was never scared because they were always outnumbered by good natured people.

I have been biking to work for three years on the downtown streets in the dark of the morning and I am definitely outnumbered by the homeless. I have never found a homeless guy that hasn't returned a "good morning". They are much friendlier than people in any Tulsa mall.

Here is the interesting part

"The barbarism and the real, not imagined, insecurity that gives rise to such fears cannot be tagged a problem of the slums. The problem is most serious, in fact, in genteel-looking "quiet residential areas."

So many things like this are the opposite of what we have been led to believe. Our friend was telling us about the house he grew up in at 101st and Sheridan-a nice middle class quiet neighborhood. His old house was taken over by squatters who tore the place to pieces. It was amazing to us that this was allowed to go on in this neighborhood, but it makes sense when no one comes out of their house to realize such things and when the neighborhood is not organized enough to combat such problems.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

City Planner

My plan is to read "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" by Jane Jacobs as I explore Boston.

The New York Times called it "Perhaps the most influential single work in the history of town planning...a work of literature."

The Story of Tulsa

A quote from “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” by Jane Jacobs seems to explain Tulsa perfectly.

“There is a wistful myth that if only we had enough money to spend–the figure is usally put at a hundred billion dolars–we could wipe out all our slums in ten years, reverse decay in the great, dull, gray belts that were yesterday’s and day-before-yesterday’s suburbs, anchor the wandering middle class and its wandering tax money, and perhaps even solve the traffic problem.

But look what we have built with the first several billions: Low-income projects that become worse centers of delinquency, vandalism and general social hopelessness than the slums they were supposed to replace. Middle-income housing projects which are truly marvels of dulness and regimentation, sealed against any buoyancy or vitality of city life. Luxury housing projects that mitigate their inanity, or try to, with a vapid vulgarity. Cultural centers that are unable to support a good bookstore. Civic centers that are avioded by everyone but bums, who have fewer choices of loitering place than others. Commercial centers that are lack-luster imitations of standardized suburban chain-store shopping. Promenades that go from no place to nowhere and have no promenaders. Expressways that eviscerate great cities. This is not the rebuilding of cities. This is the sacking of cities.”