Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Brooklyn density, high-rise and low-rise

Urbanist Roberta Brandes Gratz had some interesting comments on density the other day, and there are some more in her 1998 book Cities Back from the Edge: New Life for Downtown:
High-rise or even low-rise density is not, by definition, bad and, in fact it is the only thing that makes feasible a cost-effective and efficient urban infrastructure. In fact, downtowns are at their most productive when density is high. The form of the density can vary. The high density of low-rise neighborhoods, former street car suburbs, contributes significantly to their appeal.
One need only look to the New York borough of Brooklyn, filled with spectacular, functional neighborhoods of varying price, race, and class structure, all with high densities (unless recently rebuilt with low-density, suburbanized housing). If Brooklyn were its own city, it would be the nation’s fourth largest, yet the dominant building type does not exceed four- or five-story row houses. Of course, all of Brooklyn’s neighborhoods evolved along expansive streetcar and subway lines.


Of course, she wrote that before a growing population and rising property values began to put additional pressure on neighborhoods, especially for affordable housing.

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