What Is New Urbanism?

The rural-to-urban Transect is based on the idea that there is a place for everything in the human habitat. Where elements of the built environment are in their proper place, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Through the first quarter of the 20th century, the United States developed mainly in the form of compact, mixed-use neighborhoods. The pattern began to change with the emergence of modern architecture and zoning and the ascent of the automobile. After World War II, a new system of development was implemented nationwide — one that, instead of being based on neighborhoods, was based on a rigorous separation of uses.
If the New Urbanism can be boiled down to a single idea, perhaps it would be making places walkable. But what makes pedestrians feel attracted to one place and want to avoid another?
Without a doubt, cars are excellent machines. They have greatly increased our freedom of movement in the last century. Yet these machines have become our masters.

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  • Addison Circle street

    Addison Circle street

    A woman walks along a street with storefronts, residential units, landscaping, wide sidewalks, and parked cars. This street has enclosure, variety, and the kind of interesting building interface that makes for a walkable environment. Photo courtesy of RTKL