The future of cities is the Micropolis

New cities should be small, completely walkable, and incredibly dense.

Cities should be built up, not out. Imagine if the geographic footprint of a city were limited so that people could walk from one end to the other in half an hour. There would be a multitude of benefits to living in a city like this:

No cars, or trains, or buses, or any form of public transportation

Instead of relying on these incredibly expensive forms of transportation, we could rely on elevators, the greatest form of public transportation (they’re fully autonomous, electric, free to the public, and perfectly safe). Roads and railways kill a lot of people, generate noise and pollution, divide neighborhoods, and generally just create a lot of anxiety and frustration. If people are able to easily walk anywhere they need to go, then you eliminate those problems.

Let’s also not forget that making cities more walkable delivers a big boost to commerce as people are more likely to patronize the businesses they walk by, rather than drive by.

The city becomes more livable

Outdoor space is important. In a dense cities, open, green space can be hard to come by. And although the micropolis would be as dense as anywhere in the world, everyone would have ample access to plenty of outdoor space. Everyone is within walking distance to anywhere in the city, including the edges, which would be surrounded with a large green loop. There you would find playgrounds, ball fields, forests, lakes, etc. Since the city’s footprint is so small, you could potentially squeeze one into a lush valley, or tucked between a beach and a ski mountain.

With streets only used for walking, they can be taken over by bars and restaurants during the weekend. They’d put out tables and chairs and allow people to eat and drink in the open air. Or, kids could just play in them.

You need less government

A lot of the things government do don’t scale very well because of distance. Maintaining roads, sewers, water mains, mail delivery, trash pickup, public transit, police patrolling, school bussing, etc. are all made more complicated and expensive because they have to serve each and every building over a wide area. Limiting the number of buildings and the distance those services need to stretch to makes everything governments must do much easier. As such, a smaller, leaner city government would be cheaper to fund (ie. lower taxes and fees).

America needs new cities. Our population is going to keep growing and we can’t just keep sprawling further and further out from the ones we already have. Lots of people are being left out of the amazing social and economic opportunities that cities provide because housing has become too expensive. The cities of today were designed for the last century and the century before. We need a new geography the prioritizes livability while creating a new economic dynamism for the country. Micropolises could be the answer.