Denser Suburbs

Leigh Gallagher’s Time article on a guy who says that suburbs are financially unsustainable is long on describing the problem and short on solutions, but the frame that people seem to put it into is a sharply dichotomous urban vs. suburban/exurban debate.  Like the only possible ways to live are in a Manhattan like ultra-dense city or a sprawling suburb like, I don’t know, Lancaster Ohio:

It turns out there’s some excluded middle here!  Check out Redwood City, California:

Here’s Palo Alto, CA:

Here’s San Francisco, CA:

Here’s more of SF:

Here’s Brooklyn:

And finally, here’s Manhattan:

Most people don’t want to live in Manhattan, sure.  But man, check out the street views of Palo Alto or Redwood City.  Those are tree-lined streets, big houses with nice yards.  Sure, they aren’t exurban, and if you’re committed to the notion that you have to hike to reach your neighbor, you won’t like them.  But I submit that the overwhelming majority of current suburban dwellers could live quite happily in suburbs that were perhaps twice as dense as they are now, and in fact maybe enjoy a bit more access to amenities.  You don’t have to live in a concrete jungle to get many of the benefits of high-density living.

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