The New Urbanism

In David Fleming’s City of Rhetoric, there is a specific chapter entitled “The New Urbanism”. In “The New Urbanism”, Fleming discusses the ways in which urban areas are changing, and by doing so he also argues that these changes are not all positive. To illustrate his point, Fleming begins the chapter around the specific example of North Town Village, which is a “private real estate development… on North Halsted Street in Chicago” (121). This development was set to cost around $70 million, and contain over 200 housing units. However, what was interesting about this construction project was not the magnitude of it, but rather the location and desired clientele. North Town Village was built right next to an area which contained a significant amount of public housing. The contrast between the income levels of those individuals coming into the community and of those already living in there was substantial. Although not everyone coming in was of substantially higher income, prior to the North Town Village, there had been little differences in income at all. North Town Village is a perfect example of the mixed-income urban townhouse community, which has become increasing popular in recent years. Fleming goes on to explain that these areas of mixed income individuals may not actually be bad in idea, however they tend to be bad in practice. To him, this idea of creating a commonplace for people of different backgrounds, races, genders, religions, incomes, etc. to get together and share their ideas is great. In fact, he encourages it. But what he believes to happen more often than not, is even in these situations like North Town Village, where lots of different people are in a shared space, these people still do not mingle and learn from each other. Instead, they find others like themselves within the community, and only spend time with them. To Fleming, social progress is not possible of only like-minded people assimilate amongst themselves. He ends the chapter by explaining that it is possible to from truly inclusive commonplaces, we just have ot figure out the best way to do so.

Fleming, David. City of Rhetoric: Revitalizing the Public Sphere in Metropolitan America. Albany, NY,          SUNY Press, 2009.

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