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The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America's Man-made Landscape

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The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America's Man-made Landscape Cover

ISBN13: 9780671888251
ISBN10: 0671888250
Condition: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The Geography of Nowhere traces America's evolution from a nation of Main Streets and coherent communities to a land where every place is like no place in particular, where the cities are dead zones and the countryside is a wasteland of cartoon architecture and parking lots.

In elegant and often hilarious prose, Kunstler depicts our nation's evolution from the Pilgrim settlements to the modern auto suburb in all its ghastliness. The Geography of Nowhere tallies up the huge economic, social, and spiritual costs that America is paying for its car-crazed lifestyle. It is also a wake-up call for citizens to reinvent the places where we live and work, to build communities that are once again worthy of our affection. Kunstler proposes that by reviving civic art and civic life, we will rediscover public virtue and a new vision of the common good. "The future will require us to build better places," Kunstler says, "or the future will belong to other people in other societies."

Review:

"A serious attempt to point out ways future builders can avoid the errors that have marred the American landscape." New Yorker

Review:

"Contributes to a discussion our society must hold if we are to shape our world as it continues to change at a dizzying pace." Christian Science Monitor

Review:

"A wonderfully entertaining useful and provocative account of the American environment by the auto, suburban developers, purblind zoning and corporate pirates." Boston Globe

Review:

"Provocative and entertaining." New York Times

Synopsis:

The Geography of Nowhere traces America's evolution from a nation of Main Streets and coherent communities to a land where every place is like no place in particular, where the cities are dead zones and the countryside is a wasteland of cartoon architecture and parking lots.

In elegant and often hilarious prose, Kunstler depicts our nation's evolution from the Pilgrim settlements to the modern auto suburb in all its ghastliness. The Geography of Nowhere tallies up the huge economic, social, and spiritual costs that America is paying for its car-crazed lifestyle. It is also a wake-up call for citizens to reinvent the places where we live and work, to build communities that are once again worthy of our affection. Kunstler proposes that by reviving civic art and civic life, we will rediscover public virtue and a new vision of the common good. "The future will require us to build better places," Kunstler says, "or the future will belong to other people in other societies."

Synopsis:

In this "eminently relevant and important book" (Library Journal), the author traces the evolution of America's landscape, where every place looks like no place in particular, and where accommodating the automobile jeopardizes the individual and the environment.

About the Author

James Howard Kunstler is the author of eight novels. He has worked as a newspaper reporter and an editor for Rolling Stone, and is a frequent contributor to The New York Times Sunday Magazine. He lives in upstate New York.

Table of Contents

CONTENTS

Chapter

One SCARY PLACES

Two AMERICAN SPACE

Three LIFE ON THE GRIDIRON

Four EDEN UPDATED

Five YESTERDAY'S TOMORROW

Six JOYRIDE

Seven THE EVIL EMPIRE

Eight HOW TO MESS UP A TOWN

Nine A PLACE CALLED HOME

Ten THE LOSS OF COMMUNITY

Eleven THREE CITIES

Twelve CAPITALS OF UNREALITY

Thirteen BETTER PLACES

NOTES

BIBLIOGRAPHY

INDEX

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Ronald Scheurer, November 15, 2009 (view all comments by Ronald Scheurer)
The Geography of Nowhere, The Rise and Decline of America’s Man-Made Landscape, James Howard Kunstler, 1993. The book tallies from the Pilgrim settlements to the modern auto suburb the huge economic, social, and spiritual costs we now pay for our car-crazed addicted lifestyles.

Two words should come to mind while reading just about ever chapter in this book: growth and development. The difference: growth is untamed expansion (a form of cancer); development is taking what exists and improving upon its appearance and utility without destroying its basic idea (the thoughtful and rational use of resources to manage sustainable growth without destroying the planet for future generations). Developing nations cannot be turned into replicas of the US, or for that matter, many other places in the world.

Local governments cannot improve transit problems or the quality of life by revising land use laws that favor suburban sprawl, megamalls, high rise expensive housing, auto manufacturers, oil companies, tire manufacturers, and highway builders, while destroying the possibilities of a return to sensible electric rail transit (most of which has already occurred), plowing up farmland in floodplains, building industrial parks (that require auto commutes), and planning new center sites devoid of economic single home housing.

Human scale architecture started going downhill after elevators and structural steel came along in the 1890s. The Depression stopped the building craze for a while, then after WWII, it picked up its pace as architects further eroded city building under the rubric of Modernism. Tall office buildings could keep hundreds of drone workers occupied while their owner manufacturers made extra money earning rental income from the upper floors. The value of city property increased too much for economic housing. Where did the workers live? Slumburbs. How did they commute? By GM buses, the company that destroyed just about all independent trolley lines, on roads and new superhighways subsidized by the government. Did sensible private electric trolley lines get any government help? NO!

Case in point: Pacific Electric Railroad had 1,600 miles of track linking all of Los Angeles’ suburbs until the late 1920s. Pacific Electric was killed by GM. Today, LA has 150 miles either planned or built at a cost of roughly $10 billion. It will be super for anyone living within walking distance of a station. Pacific Electric had lots of stops, but as auto traffic increased, and crossed the tracks, collisions between trolleys and cars increased. Guess who lost the battle?

Kunstler describes Detroit (probably the worst city in the US, Portland, Oregon (probably the best for regional planning), and Los Angeles (with the wonder if it will survive as a city at all). There is the possibility of better places, but to stop the absurdities of today’s irrational growth and replace it with sustainable development will take a wakeup call to every city’s citizens, a return to sensible politics without special interests, and a return to pre auto addiction days.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780671888251
Author:
Kunstler, James Howard
Publisher:
Free Press
Author:
Kunstler, James
Location:
New York
Subject:
General
Subject:
Nature
Subject:
Environmental Conservation & Protection
Subject:
Ecology
Subject:
Environmental policy
Subject:
Architecture
Subject:
Architecture and society
Subject:
Life Sciences - Ecology
Subject:
General Social Science
Subject:
Architecture and society -- United States.
Subject:
Architecture -- Environmental aspects.
Subject:
Environmental Studies-General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
B102
Series Volume:
INT-EL
Publication Date:
July 1994
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
8.44 x 5.5 in 9.275 oz

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Architecture » Cityscape
Arts and Entertainment » Architecture » General
Arts and Entertainment » Architecture » Urban Planning
Arts and Entertainment » Photography » Featured Titles
History and Social Science » Geography » North America
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » Sociology » General
History and Social Science » Sociology » Urban Studies » City Specific
History and Social Science » Sociology » Urban Studies » General
Science and Mathematics » Agriculture » General
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » Communes
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » General
Science and Mathematics » Nature Studies » General

The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America's Man-made Landscape Used Trade Paper
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$7.50 In Stock
Product details 304 pages Free Press - English 9780671888251 Reviews:
"Review" by , "A serious attempt to point out ways future builders can avoid the errors that have marred the American landscape."
"Review" by , "Contributes to a discussion our society must hold if we are to shape our world as it continues to change at a dizzying pace."
"Review" by , "A wonderfully entertaining useful and provocative account of the American environment by the auto, suburban developers, purblind zoning and corporate pirates."
"Review" by , "Provocative and entertaining."
"Synopsis" by , The Geography of Nowhere traces America's evolution from a nation of Main Streets and coherent communities to a land where every place is like no place in particular, where the cities are dead zones and the countryside is a wasteland of cartoon architecture and parking lots.

In elegant and often hilarious prose, Kunstler depicts our nation's evolution from the Pilgrim settlements to the modern auto suburb in all its ghastliness. The Geography of Nowhere tallies up the huge economic, social, and spiritual costs that America is paying for its car-crazed lifestyle. It is also a wake-up call for citizens to reinvent the places where we live and work, to build communities that are once again worthy of our affection. Kunstler proposes that by reviving civic art and civic life, we will rediscover public virtue and a new vision of the common good. "The future will require us to build better places," Kunstler says, "or the future will belong to other people in other societies."

"Synopsis" by , In this "eminently relevant and important book" (Library Journal), the author traces the evolution of America's landscape, where every place looks like no place in particular, and where accommodating the automobile jeopardizes the individual and the environment.
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