Captivated by the vision of the freeway Radiant City

What if we fail to stop the erosion of cities by automobiles? What if we are prevented from catalyzing workable and vital cities because the practical steps needed to do so are in conflict with the practical steps demanded by erosion?

There is a silver lining to everything.

In that case we Americans will hardly need to ponder a mystery that has troubled men for millennia: What is the purpose of life? For us, the answer will be clear, established and for all practical purposes indisputable: The purpose of life is to produce and consume automobiles.

It is not hard to understand that the producing and consuming of automobiles might properly seem the purpose of life to the General Motors management, or that it might seem so to other men and women deeply committed economically or emotionally to this pursuit. If they so regard it, they should be commended rather than criticized for this remarkable identification of philosophy with daily duty. It is harder to understand, however, why the production and consumption of automobiles should be the purpose of life for this country.

Similarly, it is understandable that men who were young in the 1920’s were captivated by the vision of the freeway Radiant City, with the specious promise that it would be appropriate to an automobile age. [..] But it is harder to understand why this form of arrested mental development should be passed on intact to succeeding generations of planners and designers.

– Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities

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