Grady Clay dies
Longtime urban-affairs specialist Grady Clay, 96, dies" from the Louisville Courier-Journal.
He was the author of “Close Up: How To Read the American City,'' “Right Before Your Eyes: Penetrating the Urban Environment,'' “Real Places: An Unconventional Guide to America's Generic Landscape'' and “Alleys: A Hidden Resource.''
It's ironic that many people in the city are pejoratively using the term "new urbanism" to denigrate pro-urban policies promoted by city planning offices and other stakeholders, as Mr. Clay coined the term "New Urbanism" in 1959!, specifically oriented to the city not the suburbs.
From the article "Metropolis Regained" in the July 1959 issue of Horizon Magazine:
We believe in the city, they would say, not in tearing it down. We like open space, but hold that too much of it is just as bad as too little. We want that multiplicity of choice that the city has always offered, but is now in danger of losing. We want the same financing for a city house as a suburban split-level; good transportation to and from work without wasting hours on subways, buses or in traffic. We like the intimacy of the crowd--but we also like to escape from it--we like the busy downtown plaza, but also the pleasant walkways of a residential district. We are appalled at your civic centers, your housing projects, and your expressways. They seem designed to be self-contained mechanisms for performance, procreation, and propulsion. We come to the city seeking community, pleasure, jobs and other people; you seem to be destroying the first, demoralizing the second, decentralizing the third, and displacing the last. We like it here--only give us a break!
Grady Clay, along with William H. Whyte and Jane Jacobs (the book Exploding Metropolis collects a series of 6 pro-city articles that ran in Fortune Magazine in 1958 and 1959, including Jacobs' article "Downtowns are for people") pushed for reconsideration of the value of the center city in the late 1950s, when federal housing, financing, and transportation policy favored suburban living, and urban policies--specifically urban renewal--attempted to make over the city along the lines that laid out by Corbusier's Radiant City, a deconcentrated city of towers surrounded by parks.
It's taken 50 years for those ideas and concepts to again reach the kind of critical mass that might not mean that cities will overtake the suburbs but at least that they can regain some of the lost population and commerce that long before decamped.