Friday, January 22, 2010

Quote of the Week: Urban Planning

"But Cumbernauld [where he grew up] wasn't just a scheme. It was a plan. A big plan. An entire new town built about fifteen miles outside Glasgow itself. One of three, in fact. East Kilbride, like Cumbernauld a satellite of Glasgow and Livingston, which was built on the outskirts of Edinbugh. It is hard to convey the dreariness of these gloomy wastelands, of which Cumbernauld was and is undoubtedly the worst. These atrocities were designed by pseudointellectual modernists who believed that the automobile would replace feet sometime in the 1970s. Any money they had left over from making boxlike dwelling hutches was spent on horrendous concrete abstract sculptures, totems to the gods of utter banality, which were placed throughout the town in random locations. There were no sidewalks, pedestrians were instead diverted into tunnels lined with corrugated iron (a cheap way to make them) so as not to interfere with the flow of traffic on the empty freeways. The tunnels became useful later for gang violence and glue sniffing as the new towns crumbled.

I doubt the Cumbernauld town planners ever saw the finished product but I'm sure it looked a lot better as line drawings on expensive paper. Fairly recently Cumbernauld was named the second-worst town in the United Kingdom, losing worst-of-all honors to the city of Hull, a dowdy seaport on the east coast of England. I dispute the result; I have been to Hull, and while it is undoubtedly an absolute shitheap, it is no match for Cumbernauld."
- Craig Ferguson, American on Purpose, p.15

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