Cities Back from the Edge: New Life for Downtown

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Wiley, Apr 2, 1998 - Architecture - 384 pages
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Gratz takes us on tours of places that are doing better and actually getting somewhere, because, against all odds, they have abandoned conventional wisdom's unworkable and oversimplified formulas and re-embraced new opportunities as complex and rewarding as life itself. It's roll-up-our-sleeves time in America, folks, and now we have no more excuses. Roberta Gratz has assembled the examples worth learning from, and her book is an excellent teacher." -- Tony Hiss author of The Experience of Place

"Roberta Gratz is wonderful at discovering important things that are going on that most of us have not heard of yet." -- Jane Jacobs author of Death and Life of Great American Cities

"I read the newspaper differently every day since I read this book." --Anthony Mancini author, professor of journalism at Brooklyn College, and former reporter for the New York Post

After decades of decline and decay, scores of downtowns in urban America are coming to life once again. Others continue to languish despite massive public investment. In Cities Back from the Edge, acclaimed author Roberta Brandes Gratz teams up with Main Street expert Norman Mintz to tell us why. Based on their firsthand observations of downtown change throughout the country, this book is filled with stories of urban recovery from Mansfield, Ohio to Los Angeles, from Pasco, Washington to SoHo. Rejecting simplistic cookie-cutter prescriptions for success, Gratz and Mintz instead identify a more flexible and effective approach to downtown rejuvenation: Urban Husbandry. They illustrate how this organic, sustainable process is already producing real-world results. What's more, they show the tremendous advantages of low-cost, modest initiatives over the blockbuster resuscitation efforts of traditional large-scale Project Planning--the budget-busting convention centers, aquariums, stadiums, and other stand-alone solutions that do little to improve the city around them.

Throughout this book the authors address the key issues facing the nation's cities and towns today, including transportation planning and sprawl containment, the threat of big-box superstore retailers, and the preservation of the essential downtown components necessary to anchor a thriving, vibrant community. Gratz and Mintz show us that rebuilding authentic places, reconnecting communities, and stimulating innovative change are within everyone's reach.

Cities Back from the Edge turns the spotlight on the resurgence of downtown America in a new and insightful way. With proven ideas on how to correct the mistakes of the past several decades, this book offers new hope that our cities will not merely be rebuilt--but reborn.

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The Mess We Have Made
Project Planning or Urban Husbandry
Death and Rebirth of the Public Realm

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About the author (1998)

ROBERTA BRANDES GRATZ, the award-winning journalist and urban critic, is author of the urban design classic The Living City: Thinking Small in a Big Way. A former staff reporter for the New York Post, Gratz has also written for The Wall Street Journal, New York Newsday, The Nation, The New York Times Magazine, and other publications.

NORMAN MINTZ has played a leading role in the field of downtown revitalization for more than 25 years. He is Design Director at the Grand Central Partnership in New York City and a consultant on downtown revitalization across the country.

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