Seattle is getting greener by the minute, by the mile.
Seattle is not a concrete utopia. Charles Mudede

The urbanist literature of our times has its heroes and its villains. The heroes are concrete utopias (Copenhagen) or are in the process of becoming one (Bogota). (By concrete utopias, I mean utopias that are already here in the world and not in the dreams of an urban planner.) The villains are many. Indeed, any city that successfully modernized (meaning, became a city for cars) in the post-war period is a villain. Atlanta is a popular baddie in this literature. For example, Charles Montgomery's Happy City:

"Atlantans know from experience: the obvious solution to congestion— building more roads— simply produces more traffic, creating a hedonic treadmill of construction and frustration..." And: "Few places design travel behavior as powerfully as Atlanta. The average working adult in Atlanta’s suburbs now drives forty- four miles a day. Ninety- four percent of Atlantans commute by car. They spend more on gas than anyone else in the country..." And: "Road engineers have not even bothered to build sidewalks in many Atlanta suburbs."

You get the picture.

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Seattle in the urbanist literature is often seen as a city heading in the right direction. Portland is above Seattle. It is the US's Copenhagen.

I bring all of this up because a recent study by Shared Use Mobility Center found that the "average household in Seattle... owns more cars than the average household in notoriously sprawling Atlanta." Also, Portland households "typically own more cars than in Miami, and the rate isn’t much lower than in Houston." Both Miami and Houston are popular villains in the literature.

What does this tell us? In my opinion, that the de-modernization of American cities is a very slow and uneven process, which is why the differences between Atlanta and Seattle are not going to be clear or that meaningful. There is however a big difference between these two cities and New York City, which does not really need to aggressively de-modernize. NYC is already not an American city. It is European. Most of the concrete utopias in the literature are found in that part of the world (Berlin, Amsterdam, Stockholm, and, of course, Barcelona).

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