Wednesday, June 14, 2006

New Urbanism

The fair and proud city of New London, Conn. has little need for "new urbanism." Old urban ideas work well enough here. True, New London is not the most glamorous of destinations, but it has cheek and pluck that cannot be found anywhere else. There is only one Thames River in Connecticut, and only one west bank on its mouth. New London occupies a fortunate spot on the globe.

New London's layout is older than America itself. New London hugs the water the way a child hugs its parents. If there is anything new in New London, it is the city's perrenial optimism that refereshes itself every day. Old ideas get new life when they are rediscovered. For three hundred fifty years, New London offers fresh opportunities to those who discover it. Pleasure and leisure sound the same when a New Londoner says these words. They mean the same too.

Gernerally speaking, New London exhibits the best lessons urban planners can learn. Why mess with perfection? New London has tried to perfect its fabric many times in the past forty years and the results have always been lacking. Leave people alone and they will make the best of thier surroundings. New London looks like nowhere else in the United States for reasons beyond basic geography. New London doesn't buy into current fancies. New London sticks to its shore and minds its own business. The rest of the world can go to Hell in a handbascket, all the way to Grandma's house. If you want to see a perfect city, visit New London. It isn't the prettiest dame in the room, but it is the best. Those of us who live on its streets know this in our bones. We practice the hard facts of life and have little use for theories. New London is often imitated, but never successfully.

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