City Planning

I have spent part of the evening trying to find some statistics on the East Bay’s old Key System — our local streetcar system that once upon a time ran through Berkeley and Oakland and neighboring cities and crossed the Bay Bridge to the late and mostly unlamented Transbay Terminal.

I didn’t find, yet, the stats I was looking for — what the peak average transbay ridership was — but I did stumble across a 1915 report that laid out city plans for Oakland and Berkeley and talks about the role of the Key System. I find old studies and reports like this fascinating when contemplating the current landscape and wondering where it all went wrong.

I’ve hardly looked at the report, partly because I was stopped by this declaration on the page facing the preface:

CITY PLANNING IS INSURANCE AGAINST WASTE OF PUBLIC AND PRIVATE FUNDS.

City planning means co-ordination of the activities that make for the growth of the city, especially the activities of railroad and harbor engineers, landscape architects, street-building and civil engineers, builders of factories, of offices, of public buildings and dwelling houses. Without this pre-planning co-ordination, clashes between these different activities, unsatisfactory results and most expensive rearrangements, become unavoidable. City planning therefore does not mean additional expenditure of money, but it means an INSURANCE AGAINST INEFFICIENT EXPENDITURE of the enormous sums that go — in the regular course of events — into the development of a progressive city.

Sounds straightforward.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.