Flat City: The Streetcar City and the Revival of the American Dream

Thursday, December 8, 2011 - 3:30pm

About the Event

Most people think cities have high-density "pointy" centers and gradually flatter edges—edges that slope to the countryside. This presumed hierarchy has remained unchallenged despite the fact that North American cities, when they were at their most powerful, were flat—homogeneous across large urban landscapes in a form and density that was uniquely American. The form was the grid, and the means of getting around was on foot or by streetcar. In this first manifestation of the American Dream—the Streetcar City—residents produced almost no greenhouse gas from their transportation choices.

At the CTS Fall Luncheon, Patrick M. Condon argued why this form is again desirable for our future quality of life.


Patrick M. Condon has more than 25 years of experience in sustainable urban design, first as a professional city planner and then as a teacher and researcher. He started his academic career in 1985 at the University of Minnesota and moved to the University of British Columbia in 1992, acting first as the director of the landscape architecture program and later as the James Taylor Chair in Landscape and Livable Environments. He is the author of several books, most recently Design Charrettes for Sustainable Communities (2008) and Seven Rules for Sustainable Communities: Design Strategies for the Post-Carbon World (2010), both from Island Press.