Nobody goes there anymore because its too crowded. – Yogi Berra

Gen Xers seem to have a pulled one over on baby boomers, whom are known for their love of driving. Here’s a good public radio broadcast on walk-able urban places.

The Brookings Institute released a study called Footloose and Fancy Free: A Field Survey of Walkable Urban Places in the Top 30 U.S. Metropolitan Areas which dissects 30 cities for their walkability (hat tip to John Mason). This trend goes hand in hand with the housing boom as new urbanism trends pulled people from the suburbs to revitalized downtown centers.

The post-World War II era has witnessed the nearly exclusive building of low density suburbia, here termed “drivable sub-urban” development, as the American metropolitan built environment.. However, over the past 15 years, there has been a gradual shift in how Americans have created their built environment (defined as the real estate, which is generally privately owned, and the infrastructure that supports real estate, majority publicly owned), as demonstrated by the success of the many downtown revitalizations, new urbanism, and transit-oriented development.

There are two types of walk-able places:

  • Regional-serving – areas that provide culture, employment, medical, higher education and other purposes.
  • Local-serving – areas that are residential and provide support services for everyday needs.

Its a fascinating demographic shift that is also correlated with the trend towards green with greater reliance on public transportation and walking.

I wonder if the cooling of the housing market in many locals will slow or stop this change or if it already has its own legs? My sense is that the macro trend will continue to move in this direction.


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