Once upon a time people lived in cities, and everything they needed was at their fingertips -- the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker. Dwellings were built around the city square, and folks could walk everywhere. The outlying districts were agricultural or industrial, and all goods and products were transported to the cities where people could purchase them. Cities were beautiful places with user-friendly architecture, parks, playgrounds and access to rivers, lakes and ocean fronts. Landscape architects were hired to design beautiful inner-city parks such as Hyde Park in London, and Central Park in New York City. The parks contained bandstands, lakes for rowing, ice cream parlours, carousels and playgrounds for the children, and on weekends folks took picnic baskets to the park and spent the afternoon there. In the winter they skated on the frozen ponds. Living in the city was a lovely way of life.
And then, in the late 1940s after the Second World War, something happened. The first "suburb" was designed. It was called "Levittown" after it's developer William Jaird Levitt and it consisted of 17,544 Cape Cod and ranch houses. It was built to give post-World War II GIs the keys to their American Dream. It was "whites only", and in truth it was the beginning of the end of the American Dream. The amenities of the city were no longer in reach, and people needed cars for transportation. Inner cities began to be razed, and highways, freeways and unsightly parkades began springing up where there had once been shops, businesses and thriving communities. The inner cities were now only for minorities and folks who could not afford the "American Dream home" out there in the suburbs. And people began to rely on their automobiles. In fact, life without an automobile was practically unheard of. People now lived where there once had been farmland, and they needed their automobiles to drive miles and miles in order to get to the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker. Life began to evolve around the automobile, and people no longer owned cars, their cars owned them. The automobile that had once been a luxury had now become a necessity and was the main focus of city development in every country of the world. City planners developed cities around automobiles, not around people.
I'm one of the few people I know who has never owned or driven a car, and I do not possess a driver's license. I have always found public transit -- buses or trains/subways -- to be a perfectly acceptable means to get from A to B. And it's cheap. At one time most cities in the world had street cars, and when automobiles took over, street car lines were ripped up. Transportation authorities are now realizing that was a mistake, and should never have happened. Now, in the 21st Century when cars are destroying our planet, we need to find a way to look into the future and find cleaners ways of transportation, perhaps by looking to the past. Once upon a time, the earth was not controlled by cars.