|Jackson Street, St. Paul - Toole Design Group|
|Third Street, Austin - City of Austin|
A final thought on what matters most in urban design?
The evolution of open space and the contribution of open space to the city-- I don’t mean just parks and gardens, I mean the street. If you look at the amount of land tied up in your street system and the power of that street system, it is the most important public open space in the city because there’s more of it than anything else, maybe with the exception of the river, but you don’t walk around on the river... Think about the street system. Whether it’s a 60’ right of way, an 80’ right of way--those street systems occupy a huge amount of space that we travel up and down in our automobiles, we ride transit in them, takes cabs in them, we walk alongside them, and ride bikes in them. You spend more time in a street environment as an open space framed by buildings or framed by vistas that look over Mt. Hood or up to the West Hills, that, to me, is the most important urban space. The spaces we set aside are important, too, they’re precious, but they are a small percentage of our open space. If we don’t take care of our open streets, we don’t treat them properly, well, that’s another lesson for cities to learn. In a city, your streets are your greatest asset.
|Vera Katz in 1972|
- Urbanism is a practice not a vision
- Leadership requires chutzpah
- Lead like a mother
People talk about how visionary Katz was but I’d argue her ideas about what would make Portland livable were informed less by Utopian ideals of the great city and more by her experiences growing up on the streets of Brooklyn. Like Jane Jacobs, who also spent many formative years in mid-century NYC, Katz was intimately familiar with dense, walkable neighborhoods connected by mass transit and understood the dynamics by which human-scale design fostered community.Also, her obituary in the New York Times.