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11:08pm on Thursday, 7th October, 2010:

Too Much Room


Because America has a large surface area, its cities tend to be large and sprawling; after all, there's plenty of room for them to grow. To European eyes, they can seem quite profligate in their use of space. Even in the downtown area (which is what I tend to see of American cities) there will be pieces of real estate that could be put to better use. The buildings will be packed together quite densely, but there will be odd little shops that must be costing a fortune in rent but sell something bizarre like wigs or lampshades made of copper wire.

Austin is probably the most wasteful city in terms of its usage of downtown space that I've come across to date. It has high-rise office buildings next to run-down small businesses offering T-shirt screen printing services, or a lone dress shop with no other shop of any kind for two blocks, or low-rise housing, or $7 a day parking lots. I don't know if the real estate value of the downtown area is lower than in other cities, but it's definitely underdeveloped.

Well, it's Texas, and Texas is big. Maybe they just have too much room?

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Copyright © 2010 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).