Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Sprawl from above?

Today's urbanists often debate the merits of different forms of streets.  Once upon a time in America, streets were laid down in a grid.  Downtown Chicago is but one of many examples of this regular repetition of right angles.

We see most streets intersect at right angles and run in almost perfect parallels and perpendiculars.  Very few are dead ends.  This in constrast with the cul-de-sac.

You can see that the roads have fewer parallels, perpendiculars, and right angle intersections.  This looks, from above, remarkably similar to something quite a bit older.

Yes, Dublin Ireland.  And ancient city with a downtown full of winding streets and dead ends.  The difference is, of course, how it looks on the ground.  But we are looking at downtown Dublin.

I have yet to see a street like this in Buffalo Grove.  As a side note I find the sidewalks strikingly narrow.

But moving out to Chapelizod, where James Joyce set the story A Painful Case from Dubliners (1914), and going in near Phoenix park, where Joyce once got into an altercation, the view is more familiar.

This is of course Buffalo Grove, Illinois

And this Chapelizod, Dublin

I encourage you to explore with Google Maps.  Challenge your assumptions - I know I did.  The comparisons are rather striking, and lead one to question the matter of urban forms and some of the assumptions associated with them.  For example, ancient Dublin with its old neighborhoods and the way it is both similar and different from more modern American neighborhoods.

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