The Urbanite is a Baltimore-based “publication dedicated to addressing the issues affecting the relationship between the city and those who live there”. As you might imagine, Baltimore has a lot in common with Philly, due to their proximity and similar ages. Importantly, the cities share a common building block, the rowhouse. Older rowhouse-based cities tend to be walkable, with moderately-scaled buildings and a mix of residential and commercial uses throughout.
All this is to say, I think Philadelphia residents could get a lot out of a magazine about urban issues, even if it’s based in Baltimore. Recently, The Urbanite’s Marc Steiner interviewed Witold Rybczynski, a professor of Urbanism at the University of Pennsylvania. The interview focused on the idea of city planning. I think the question and answer below sums it up well:
Q Do you think that urban planning is a waste of time?
A No. I think cities are fascinating … I’m very strong on development. I think that the private market is what has created American cities from the beginning. [Urban development is] driven by entrepreneurs and risk-takers. But the public government has a role to play. It can make these projects very difficult or expensive, or it can encourage them. The downside of the private market is that the developer is only thinking about his own project. Somebody does have to put the pieces together or link them up when they need to be linked. That is the city itself. Cities are not very good at developing, but they do have that responsibility, and they do have the tools to deal with transportation and infrastructural issues. Only the city can do that.
Read the full interview here.