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The unasked question is why must people commute to the center cities to work?

When manufacturing was concentrated in certain locales then it made sense to have the workforce travel towards this area. Many factory centers were based upon geographic conditions like ports or rivers used for water power.

Most cities have little heavy industry any more and probably not much light manufacturing either. A firm that sells expertise (consulting, advertising, marketing, finance, etc.) can be located anywhere. In fact much of its staff doesn't have to visit the office to get work done either.

I live in the oldest suburb in America, Long Island. It was developed in large part right after WWII to provide homes to returning servicemen and their expanding families. Before this much of it was potato fields. Before this the north shore had been the site of summer homes for millionaires who wanted to escape the heat and have someplace to send their families during the hot spells. This is the image that the "Great Gatsby" tries to portray.

To aid in development there were a series of parallel railroad tracks run starting in the mid 19th century from east to west, each about 5 miles north or south of the next. The intent was clear - move people from the suburbs to midtown Manhattan.

Until about 20 years ago auto traffic paralleled the railroads. The Long Island Expressway just added a fourth lane in each direction to accommodate rising traffic.

The interesting thing is that about 50% of the auto traffic is now from one part of the island to another and not into NYC. There are similar instances elsewhere. Stamford Connecticut and other nearby cities now have many of the office facilities that would have been in Manhattan previously.

Decentralized office parks are now common, but the need for mass transit to service them from suburban sprawl has not been addressed. In fact, there seems to be no simple way to handle this type of dispersed traffic pattern.

It seems that the concept of "going to the office" needs to be rethought for many professions.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 01:59:19 PM EST

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