Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Urban(e) Connecticut?

Here is an interesting article by Philip Langdon from New Urban News about Connecticut's hopes for applying TOD and other principles of sustainable urbanism to its cities.

Connecticut stands out among the majority of the other states because it lacks a singular large urban center. The top five cities (Bridgeport, New Haven, Hartford, Stamford and Waterbury) each have between 110,000 and 150,000 residents. Four of these (every one but Hartford) are directly connected to New York City by Metro North transit lines. This fact, plus tax incentives that encourage large corporations to settle in Connecticut instead of New York, have made the economy of Connecticut's cities fairly robust.

There is significant cross-pollination between jobs and housing in the region, driven in part by transit. In my home city of Stamford, there are several large accounting firms and investment banks that attract reverse commuters from New York City and State, at the same time as a significant number of Stamford residents commute into Grand Central Terminal.

Unfortunately, like Stamford, all of Connecticut's cities suffered significantly from '60s and '70s era urban renewal. The goals and ambitions outlined in New Urban News are great. My hope is that this grand vision of revitalized downtowns does not pale in comparison to the daunting face of their current state.

This photo of New Haven (from here) reveals how Connecticut treated its cities during the 20th Century - a veritable gutting by the blunt force of highways.

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