Asphalt Nation: The Paving of America
The “Open Road” is part of the mystique of American culture: hit the highway in your car and travel the great, big country. There is plenty of road to drive – about two and a half million miles worth. We have more cars in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world and some of the lowest gasoline prices. But the open road is not so open anymore. Subdivisions and shopping malls follow the road-building, devouring thousands of acres of land every week. Car culture, poor planning and a system that favors auto-dependent development all contribute to the paving of America. Jane Holtz Kay looks at how this happened and highlights several ways that communities can reverse the trend and design for people, not cars.
Jane Holtz Kay was the architecture and planning critic for The Nation and the author of Asphalt Nation: How the Automobile Took Over America and How We Can Take It Back. Jane Jacobs said the book had “given us a profound way of seeing the automobile’s ruinous impact on American life.” The New York Times called her “a prophet of climate change.” She died in November 2012.