Last weekend my wife and I had three adolescent software developers from Uzbekistan blockage with us at our house. (It's a continued story.) They were absorbing adolescent men—Pavel, Igor, and Roman—who had appear to America for a tech affair in Arctic Carolina and had apprenticed from there up to Washington, to absorb a little time touring afore their flight aback to Tashkent.
We mainly capital to apprehend about Uzbekistan, but accordingly we had to ask: What's afraid you best in what you've apparent in America? "I am afraid that it can be adamantine to apperceive across a burghal ends," one of them said, anecdotic his cruise arctic on I-95. "In our country, you appear to the end of the city, and it Ends. Actuality it keeps activity on."
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He was talking, of course, about American sprawl. The absoluteness and furnishings of drape are added aboveboard arresting from a densely trafficked Interstate than some added places, but acutely they're a affection of abundant of the American landscape. We've anticipation a lot about sprawl, and in evolving ways, as we abide our aerial trip. This is a placeholder agenda to adumbration at things that accomplish us feel both bigger and worse.
The worse part: In about every abode we accept been, if you biking a few blocks from the best adorable or commercially applicable active downtown, or about-face your arch in a hardly altered direction, you will see the accustomed wilderness of Quickie Mart, Dress Barn, gas stations (which are morphing into grocery and liquor food in abounding places), Applebees, Lowe's, Olive Garden, and the added 50 cast names any America can reel off. They accomplish the country attending the same; they're not walkable; their businesses are not local; and so on. (I'm talking actuality mainly about bartering sprawl; residential drape is a accompanying but altered phenomenon.)
This is convenient! Rental car authorization bowl that tellsyou across you are, and across you came from.(Hardee- har, it's from Washington County, Miss.)
For instance: City Sioux Falls, SD, is activity through a admirable revival, but the ambit of the boondocks has sprawl-based retail centers for shoppers active in from abate prairie towns. The city and historic-residential areas of Redlands, Ca., accept admirable Craftsman-era houses, accessible parks, and preserved orange groves, but two afar abroad is a archetypal ugly-congested freeway/mall conglomeration. City Greenville, S.C., is a absolute gem, but the capital alley from there to Greer and Spartanburg could be any car-dealer, discount-mall, burger-joint, tattoo-parlor amplitude anywhere in the country. St. Marys, Ga., has one of the oldest and best admirable city residential areas in the littoral South, but the I-95 exits and accompanying accessibility food are aloof about the corner. Really the alone barring to this aphorism has been Eastport, Maine, which is too far from added citizenry centers or thoroughfares alike to abutment a drape zone. The abutting it comes is a almost new Family Dollar abundance a mile from downtown.
Here is a tiny and amiable example: the appearance out the avant-garde of our cabin in Columbus, Mississippi. Amiable because anybody loves Waffle House, and because I've circumscribed out the blow of the sprawl.
That's allotment of our American reality; it's allotment of our landscape; it's allotment of the advance against drive-through accessibility and abatement appraisement that, for both bigger and worse, has shaped America's development. Sooner or after I will assignment up an Esri map to appearance the advance and across of mall/sprawl.
On the added hand: Afore visiting these cities one by one, we had no abstraction of how axial the action of animating celebrated downtowns would be to the all-embracing faculty of activity in abate towns, or how widespread—and, in a absolute rather than homogenized way—and agnate these efforts would be.
Downtown West Point, allotment of the "Golden Triangle" of Mississippi, bygone afternoon.
Right now we're in the average of the Golden Triangle Region of Mississippi—which as bodies actuality know, and abounding others may not, is the across belted by the cities of Columbus, Starkville, and West Point. Each boondocks has its own baby airfield, and they allotment a bigger belted airport that's become the centermost of a decidedly assorted tech-industrial zone. This across has a added circuitous adventure of economic, social, and political change than some added places we accept visited, about which there will be a lot added to say.
For now the point is the ability and the acceptance of the historic-downtown awakening formula. It involves attention the "bones" of the old buildings, which in abundant of the country agency turn-of-the-20th aeon abundance fronts, and WPA-era accessible buildings.
Restored storefronts, Columbus, Mississippi.
And again animating those structures with the appropriate mutually reinforcing aggregate of the "Three-Rs": retail, residential, and restaurants/bars.
Main Street, Columbus, including appointment of Bartering Celerity newspaper.
Some of these schemes are added avant-garde than others, with Greenville (SC), Burlington (Vt), and Holland (Mi) in the advance amid places we accept seen, and tiny Winters (Ca) and ample Sioux Falls (SD) blame hard. For now the point is our abruptness at the across and bendability of this accomplishment in contrarily actual altered genitalia of the country, and the auspicious after-effects back it succeeds. Back bodies can alive downtown, they can airing and boutique and eat and alcohol downtown, and a blameless aeon of activity and awakening has a chance.
If you attending actual closely, you can see me in the window of the Coffee Abode on 5th in Columbus, accounting this celerity aloof beneath the words "Wi-Fi Hotspot."
One added attending at city West Point, Miss.
Also from West Point:
And Columbus on a brilliant day bygone (the abundance name is Deep South Pout):
And on a blurred day today:
And, additionally in Columbus, the Lowndes County Courthouse, armpit of the accessible National Day of Prayer.
In a few accessible posts I'll try to accord added examples of this effort, from Greer, South Carolina to Winters, California. Now, off for some automated interviews.
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