NEW URBANISM

Front Porches, Narrow Streets, Town Square

As we often say, the best view in the world is other people. This is the central tenet of New Urbanism.

Elliott Pond is an example of pure New Urbanism -- deep front porches, sidewalk cafes, slow traffic and a lively town square.

New Urbanism is a return to the kind of town planning followed prior to 1940, when pedestrians were considered more important than cars and everything was on a human scale.

Elliott Pond follows these principles 100%. Human scale? Everything -- the streets are narrow, and the most important places are reachable within a safe, five-minute walk, including the town square, grocery store, parks, schools and friends houses. Pedestrians are to be made comfortable by shade trees, awnings and benches, and they're to be entertained by sidewalk cafes, window-shopping and friends on large, elevated front porches.

As in the old days, our streets will be more than traffic places. They will be social places. Each front porch will embrace the street, making it a social corridor.

In the town square, the sidewalk cafes and boardwalk will jointly form a civic stage, a place to see and be seen. It will be social and lively.

Garage doors? Of course, they're to be recessed behind the houses or are to be hidden along alleys, along with trash cans and utility meters.

Yes, you can still drive the streets of Elliott Pond, but the pedestrian is our first priority.

The best book on new urbanism is Suburban Nation by Andres Duany. The best web site is www.cnu.org. An excellent recently built new urbanist community is I'on Village in South Carolina (www.ionvillage.com).

If you want to see what new urbanism is supposed to look like, but haven't got the time to go to South Carolina, that's simple. Just go to any one of your top twenty favorite towns. I'm sure they were all built before 1940, whether it's Charleston, Cape Cod, Santa Barbara, Eureka, Julian, San Francisco, Paris, whichever.