Saturday, May 10, 2014

Walkability, clean air, urban planning

Philadelphia is an old city, built before the car. Backyards are minimal, if at all; some of the streets still have cobblestones; there are lots of one-way streets and not a lot of wide throughways across town. It is made for walking. City living at its best.

I love where we live in Philadelphia. In a radius of two miles, we can walk to ... the Reading Terminal Market to buy fresh produce, meat, fish, bread, and dairy; we can go ice skating in the winter at Penn's Landing; we can hang out at Race St. Pier under the Ben Franklin Bridge; we can eat at any number of great outdoor cafes; we can shop at farmers' markets; we can ride public transportation; the list goes on. In terms of walkability, Philadelphia scores high. (At least our neighborhood does, and others that are located near Center City.) I am going to miss being able to walk and bike everywhere, with ease and not much sweat.
ice skating at Penn's Landing

hanging out at Race Street Pier

our favorite cafe, a short walk up the street

buying fresh produce at historic Headhouse Square

Reading Terminal Market

But I'm getting a little tired of city living. I love all the conveniences and the diversity and the activity and hub-bub, but I also loved spending time at my sister's house in Vermont where I could just push the kids out the door at 9AM and say "come back inside for lunch." By the end of the week Freja was collecting handfuls of worms and not caring if she got dirty. She didn't need a swing set or a climbing frame to entertain her. The air was clean and fresh and she was forced to use her imagination for entertainment. As for me, it was quiet. I could go for a hike in the woods or sit on the deck in silence. A flock of wild turkeys strutted through the backyard while the girls were napping.

I love the city but I love the country. Am I destined for suburbia? I hope not. But how do I marry high urban density with grass and fresh, clean air? Will I find a middle ground in Jacksonville? I hope that we can maintain some elements of our walking, or at least biking, lifestyle in Jacksonville but perhaps have a little more space to run around, go sailing, and plant a garden. I envision that getting out into nature, while perhaps not wilderness but at least nature, will be a little easier once we get out of this Wash-Phil-NYC-Boston corridor.

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