“For all their faults, cities are the infrastructure of equality. This crisis is also an opening to remake them. To not just survive this crisis, but create opportunity for decades to come.” writes Nicholas de Monchaux for The New York Times.
Barcelona, a city known for its art and architecture and a major tourist destination, was, until 40 years ago, neglected and badly in need of some TLC. A renaissance followed, which began with a humble plan to homogenize its outdoor spaces. Sidewalks and plazas were built and repaired in every part of the city, making pedestrian spaces connect and flow and bringing together the city as a whole.
Just like in Barcelona, open spaces are places of equality in cities. Everyone gets to use the city’s streets and sidewalks. This is where people from every walk of life can react together. And because open spaces are free to everyone, they can help knit together different segments of a society.
In the United States, however, investment has been focused on highly profitable and dense developments over the last few decades, without much thought given to the spaces in between or the people who will use them. And we’ve seen our society become more and more divided.
The Covid19 pandemic has emphasized both the good and bad in our open spaces. On the one hand we miss our usual outdoor comings and goings. On the other we see the danger they present – too many people might mean infection. This is not the first time cities have encountered such a contagion. Not so long ago, a belief that malaria was spread by air inspired Frederick Law Olmsted’s designs for Central Park in New York and the Emerald Necklace in Boston. A cholera epidemic in Paris led to grand boulevards and an enormous sewer system. And in Barcelona the same epidemic led to Ildefons Cerdà’s design for Eixample, a vast expansion district with large avenues.
History can be helpful. The health of our own urban centers can be ensured with open spaces where our shared economy can thrive.
Read the original article here.
Global Citizen Festival Central Park New York City by Anthony Quintano from Hillsborough, NJ / CC BY 2.0