Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Is geography destiny? -- walkability

[following up on this post and this one]

In comments, Joseph pointed out that, while I had argued that the stereotypes about LA (and by implication, other cities) were exaggerated, I hadn't addressed the larger question of location affecting lifestyle.

Does choice of city have a big impact on lifestyle? Certainly, but it may not be the impact you expect. Before I got to LA, I thought it would be something like Atlanta, a dense center of urban culture and activity surrounded by miles of faceless ring cities, but LA doesn't really have a center. What you normally think of as urban activity (screenings, plays, concerts, speakers, art shows, dining, night spots and places to hang out, etc.) is spread out over the four thousand plus square miles of LA county.

This leads to an odd paradox: LA is one of the most and least walkable cities you'll find. The city is filled with great neighborhoods where you can live or work without a car. You can walk or pedal anywhere you need to go. If, however, you want to experience more than a tiny portion of the social and cultural life of the city you have to have access to a car and accept the fact that a significant part of your life will be spent on the freeways.

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