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Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time Hardcover – Nov 13 2012

4.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Nov. 13 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374285810
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374285814
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 3 x 21.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #41,158 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“Jeff Speck, AICP, is one of the few practitioners and writers in the field who can make a 312-page book on a basic planning concept seem too short . . . For getting planning ideas into the thinking and the daily life of U.S. cities, this is the book.” ―Planning magazine

“Jeff Speck's brilliant and entertaining book reminds us that, in America, the exception could easily become the rule. Mayors, planners, and citizens need look no further for a powerful and achievable vision of how to make our ordinary cities great again.” ―Joseph P. Riley, mayor of Charleston, S.C.

City planning and urban development are phrases almost guaranteed to bore and confuse regular people. Which is weird, given that cities are the least boring places on earth. Fortunately, Jeff Speck is a deeply knowledgeable, charming, and jargon-free visionary, a profoundly pragmatic person brimming with common sense everybody can use to improve their own lives as well as their towns and cities. If Jane Jacobs invented a new urbanism, Walkable City is its perfect complement, a commonsense twenty-first-century user's manual.” ―Kurt Andersen, host of Studio 360 and author of True Believers

“Cities are the future of the human race, and Jeff Speck knows how to make them work. In Walkable City, he persuasively explains how to create rational urban spaces and improve quality of life by containing the number one vector of global environmental catastrophe: the automobile.” ―David Owen, staff writer at The New Yorker and author of Green Metropolis

“Companionable and disarmingly candid, Jeff Speck perches on your shoulder and gets you to see your community with fresh eyes. He gradually builds a compelling case for walkability as the essential distillation of a vast trove of knowledge about urbanism and placemaking. The case he makes has you both nodding at the intuitive and seemingly obvious wisdom presented, and shaking your head at why those basic principles of fixing our cities have eluded us for so long.” ―Harriet Tregoning, founder of the National Smart Growth Network

“Jeff Speck understands a key fact about great cities, which is that their streets matter more than their buildings. And he understands a key fact about great streets, which is that the people who walk along them matter more than the cars that drive through them. Walkable City is an eloquent ode to the livable city and to the values behind it.” ―Paul Goldberger, Pulitzer Prize–winning architecture critic and author of Why Architecture Matters

“With Walkable City, Jeff Speck demonstrates why he is among the most relevant and engaging writers on urban design today.” ―Ron Bogle, president and CEO of the American Architectural Foundation

“When I speak around the country, people ask me what is the first thing they should do to start their community on the path of smart growth. I will now say: Read Jeff Speck's Walkable City.” ―Parris Glendening, governor of Maryland (1995–2003) and president of Smart Growth America's Leadership Institute

“Truly a book that is so very needed, Walkable City moves theory into action. We now know we need to build walkable urban places for all sorts of economic, social, and environmental reasons. Jeff Speck shows how to do it in the same clear style we came to love in the classic Suburban Nation.” ―Christopher B. Leinberger, visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution and author of The Option of Urbanism

About the Author

Jeff Speck, coauthor of the landmark bestseller Suburban Nation, is a city planner who advocates for smart growth and sustainable design. As the former director of design at the National Endowment for the Arts, he oversaw the Mayors' Institute on City Design, where he worked with dozens of American mayors on their most pressing city planning challenges. He leads a design practice based in Washington, D.C.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I love this book. Lots of practical advice on how to "rescue" and bring back urban streets - but in a practical - not a pollyanna way. Some of the examples are dated, but overall, a very useful and interesting book. I highly recommend it.
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Format: Paperback
Amazing read, great for those new to rhe world of city planning but still fresh and interesting for those already familarized with the public policy world
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This short book deals with the importance of walkability and presents various ways of improving it in cities. Sadly, even to those who share the author’s point of view, it may prove aggravating:

• The main thesis that walkable cities would « save America » is barely developed, most of the book discussing rehashed themes such as parking and street trees;

• As if the author had been short of time, major sections are poorly written with huge footnotes that at times take up one third of the page;

• Though they would greatly add to the clarity of the work, absolutely no maps or photos are included;

• An abundance of data and statistics are provided, more often than not in hodgepodge fashion; the validity of the underlying research, however, is undermined by the fact that Wikipedia is at times quoted as a source!

Clearly, this eminently forgettable work may not seriously be recommended to anyone.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An excellent and informative book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.7 out of 5 stars 154 reviews
82 of 92 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Think you know everything about walkable cities? Not until you read this. Nov. 16 2012
By Darrin Nordahl - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm no stranger to Jeff Speck's work (Suburban Nation, Smart Growth Manual). He and I sing the same hymns, and preach from the same editions of The Book of Great City Living and Pedestrian Life. I bought Speck's latest book because, as an urban designer and writer myself, I felt I should have this in my library. I figured I might find a couple of useful tidbits to make cities happier places to live, but no huge revelations. Nothing that I didn't know already.

Wrong. This book is packed with astute insights into what makes for livable, lovable communities. Speck's genius, I think, is finding connections between seemingly disparate urban phenomena. And offering solutions that are pragmatic, implementable, and so, so...SIMPLE that it is hard to believe we have gotten it so wrong for so long.

I wish this book came out when I was wrapping up my latest book Making Transit Fun!: How to Entice Motorists from Their Cars (and onto their feet, a bike, or bus). My book is pretty good ;-) But it would have been better had I had Speck's book before mine went to press.

Best of all, Speck's literary style is engaging. This book is an easy read, an inspiring read, and a compelling read. I thought I was just going to flip through a few pages, maybe read a chapter or two, and then place it on my shelf alongside the dozens of other planning books. Wrong again. I was surprised how quickly I became absorbed in this book. Most planning books are drier than butter-less popcorn. Speck's book glides down the gullet with flavor.
5.0 out of 5 stars A great, very easy and organized read July 16 2016
By Nick - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is so insightful for anyone remotely interested in urban planning, landscape architecture, architecture and how design affects cities. The quality of life in the urban environment is such a driving force behind where people want to live and the economy as a whole. Jeff Speck has so much experience in this field and provides many case studies that prove the point that cities should be made for people and designed at the human scale. Reminiscent of Cities for People by Jan Gehl, but more of an applied planning approach. A great, very easy and organized read!
5.0 out of 5 stars ... Make Your Downtown Boom" and saw this as a wonderful companion book for a course on economic development July 8 2016
By Rose Marie Boyce - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I wrote an ebook "How to Make Your Downtown Boom" and saw this as a wonderful companion book for a course on economic development. It is written from the perspective of a professional planner, whereas mine is a proposal writer /grant writer format for someone who is interested in applying for funding for a community economic development project.
I encourage you to purchase Jeff Speck's book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolute read for anyone concerned about their cities economic future July 20 2016
By Topher - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you would've told me that I would be gripped reading a book about city planning I would've submitted you for drug testing. But now after reading this book all I want to do is purchase his other books and see what gems are inside those.
5.0 out of 5 stars Walkable is readable, digestible, and delightful. July 14 2016
By D. K. Bagshaw - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Excellent overview of alternative modes of transportation -- readable, digestible, delightful. The author wins you over to counter-intuitive ideas, and tells you how they are working around the world. Makes me want to get out and explore walkable cities and help create more ride-able buses here in Santa Cruz.