Why Manhattan works: Its mostly narrow!

Ironman reviews public transport architecture and notes:

First of all, to really make public transportation really work, you need to make everybody live and work within easy access of it. From the public transportation standpoint, where today’s cities go astray is in their grid system. Once city streets extend beyond easy walking distance of a main street or transportation corridor, public transportation begins to become more difficult to provide. As the distance grows greater, public transportation service becomes more and more difficult to provide, and as a result, it becomes more costly, less efficient and less effective as a viable means of moving people from place to place.

So, to make public transportation viable as the primary means of transport for an entire city, cities themselves need to be designed to closely follow a single transportation corridor.

He doesn’t actually talk about Manhattan, but if you live there, you know he is making a really good point.

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2 Responses to Why Manhattan works: Its mostly narrow!

  1. Laird Popkin says:

    It applies on a larger scale as well.

    For example, look at Japan, which is a “linear” country with very high density cities. They have a fantastic high-speed rail system that was very easy to deploy because they can run a single line and hit the vast majority of the long-distance travel in the country. Similarly, the have a great internet backbone, because they can run a single fibre line and cover every major city. Compared to Japan, in the US the cost deploying transportation and telecommunications infrastructures is very high, with the end result that the US has slower and more expensive broadband service, and terrible train service. Of course, in Japan they fund basic services much better than we do in the US, which is probably a factor as well… 🙂

  2. Half Sigma says:

    Even though it’s narrow, it’s still a pretty long walk from East End Avenue to West End Avenue.

    But what Manhattan does have doing for it is that it’s very dense. There is a LOT of stuff within walking distance of any subway stop. And most of the office buildings are clustered in Midtown and Downtown within walking distance from either the east side or west side lines.

    Unlike the dumb “Metro” stations in Virginia that are in the middle of nowhere.

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