Streams

Does City Living Make Us Happy?

Monday, November 04, 2013

Is city living better or worse for our happiness? Charles Montgomery explores the intersection between urban design and the science of happiness, and looks at some of the world’s most dynamic cities—from Bogotá to medieval Tuscan hill towns to modern-day New York City. Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design includes new insights from psychologists and Montgomery’s own urban experiments to help us understand and improve our own communities.

Guests:

Charles Montgomery

Comments [14]

Roy Zornow from East Village

Bloomberg's gated plazas - inaccessible to pedestrians - go against everything your guest says. I hope DiBlasio takes the bars down.

Nov. 05 2013 06:07 PM
BK from Hoboken

As the guest discussed the sweet spot between suburban car culture and tower anonymity, I thought of my life in Hoboken. I love knowing my neighbors, fellow dog walkers, fellow runners, etc. not a day goes by that I don't see familiar faces from te gym, block, my previous condo building, etc. I couldn't imagine a suburban life if I went from my kitchen to my garage, got in my car, drive to work, and then did the same in reverse, without seeing friends and neighbors. I need that daily interaction.

Nov. 04 2013 12:35 PM
emjayay from Brooklyn

No, Leonard, "building better public housing" is not the answer. In the 70's NYC built some award winning low rise public housing which is now the most crime and drug infested project in NYTCHA. The problem isn't the buildings, the problem is the concept. NYC public housing has entire extended families who have been in the same buildings for multiple generations over many decades.

The subsidising and concentration of dysfunction, particularly with no time limit, is the problem.

Nov. 04 2013 12:35 PM
tweb from nyc

Ha! I've thrown eggs and shot water out the window at the cars backed up and honking in the sought-after Gramercy Park intersection of the bottom of Lex & 21/22 -- worst traffic back up making it not as sought-after after all.

Nov. 04 2013 12:34 PM
Lucy from Lower manhattan

Times Square an example of claiming space for pedestrians and making a piazza of sorts is a disaster. A dumping ground for tourists, bad restaurants and for a New Yorker an impossible place to traverse with any good humor. No happiness there

Nov. 04 2013 12:33 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Under Bloomberg there has been a mushrooming of greenery all around.

As for Public Housing, the truth is that there is NOTHING wrong with public housing, except when they were under the control of the drug pushers. Public housing gets a very bad rap. I lived in the rat-infested tenements in 1950 before we moved into the new Public Housing Projects. There was nothing wrong until soon waves of impoverished people fleeing the miserable South flooded in. They had never lived in buildings before. They'd been illiterate sharecroppers. It was the poverty and the misery that flooded in that caused the problems, but not the fault of the housing itself. The housing itself was and remains sound.

Nov. 04 2013 12:33 PM
Dan K from park slope

I'm an architect who grew up in Brooklyn and currently work out of Park Slope. I've long believed that what we need to do with housing projects is fill in between each tower with townhouse-scale housing, retail stores, groceries, day cares, etc, at the street level, and court-in the grassy spaces, such that they can be kept under watch.

Nov. 04 2013 12:31 PM
Jesse from Manhattan

The sculpture park in Seattle has been around a lot longer than the Highline park, Leonard.

Nov. 04 2013 12:31 PM
ericf

How important is ACCESS To green space (as opposed to actually visiting it)? Does just knowing it's there help?

Nov. 04 2013 12:30 PM

I'd rather have a bad commute with a subway and book, than a bad commute driving.

Nov. 04 2013 12:27 PM
Guest from Northern NJ

I'm struck by your guest's use of the words "pleasure" and "happiness" as though they're interchangeable.
But they aren't . . .

It's nice that science can measure the response of pleasure centers in our brain, but even unhappy people can experience pleasure now and then. They may even be more prone to seek it out, while true happiness eludes them.

Nov. 04 2013 12:27 PM
Heather from Brooklyn

Very interesting discussion of cities and happiness. In US cities, I wonder who has access to the "happiness" of walking, biking, and decent transit. Livable neighborhoods are increasingly pricing out middle and lower-income residents. Wonder if the author addresses this in his book?

Nov. 04 2013 12:25 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Thanks to once cheap energy and the creation of suburban sprawl, the "American Dream" has been turned into the American Nightmare. The truth is, by definition the city is the center of "civilization" and urban density will only increase by leaps and bounds.

Nov. 04 2013 12:14 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Thanks to once cheap energy and the creation of suburban sprawl, the "American Dream" has been turned into the American Nightmare. The truth is, by definition the city is the center of "civilization" and urban density will only increase by leaps and bounds.

Nov. 04 2013 12:14 PM

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