I have been flipping through 6,000 Years of Housing by Norbert Schoenauer. Don't let the flat-sounding title scare you - this book is extremely engrossing and has really been making me reconsider the fundamentals of our homes today. I originally bought the book because it is full of detailed house plans for houses stretching back, well, 6,000 years, and those can be pretty hard to find.
One quote I read the other day while going through the chapter on Greek and Roman housing caught my attention:
"Inevitably, Rome experienced traffic congestion. During the reign of Julius Caesar the street network of Rome had already become clogged with traffic. To ease the congestion and the conflict between pedestrian and vehicular movement, Caesar banned most carts from the city streets during daylight hours." (page 128)
Rome spent untold sums building roads to distant provinces, to keep itself politically and economically connected. Even so, its leaders realized that a robust downtown would never survive if it was choked with traffic. 2000 years later, we haven't learned our history and are back in a position where freeways constrict and choke our downtowns. Will we learn from Caesar, or from our modern-day Korean counterparts, and start making cities for people again?