Cities: Transportation In-Frastructure

Growing up in a small mountain town public transportation is very limited. There are obviously many benefits to living within a smaller and less dense environment such as accessibility to the natural environment. I have a huge appreciation and stewardship to the protecting and engaging with the natural environment. However, I have also found that there are limitations to living away from urbanized areas. Within the Vail Valley where I am from, the only form of public transportation is a bus system that runs across the county. It runs often but due to the distance between cities it often times seems easier and more convenient to take a car. The limitation of public transportation also plays out from a socio-ecomonic standpoint. Owning a car is very expense, unless you have the income and means to pay for a car, purchase insurance, fill the car with gas and all the other expenses associated with a car you can’t easily get around the Vail Valley. The development of Vail based around I-70 is also a major contributor to US cities being designed around the auto industry, instead of pedestrian accessibility. 

Budapest on the other hand, a city that is over 1,000 years old, is a city that was developed around the Danube. The city wasn’t established based upon a grid of roads, but was established based upon trade routes. The city is divided into three segments; Buda, Óbuda, and Pest. Buda is consider the residential part of Budapest, Óbuda is the more historical part of Budapest located on the same side as Buda, and Pest is the commercial center of the city. The city is connected by seven bridges that join Buda and Pest together. The Pest side is much more dense with less space between building and city blocks. Buda is iconic with rolling green hills dotted with házak (houses). 

Budapest’s first underground railway system is the second-oldest in the world only predated by the 1890 City & South London Railway (part of the London Underground). The iconic Line 1 Budapesti Metró (Budapest Metro) was completed in 1896 and was later declared a World Heritage Site in 2002. The development of transportation in-fracture obviously isn’t something new to the city. Is much easier to take a metro, villamos (tram), or busz (bus) to get around the city at time instead of being caught in traffic. By designing a city around people and public transit the urban environment dramatically changes. Instead of focusing the city life around creating parking lots, additional side street parking, wider roads, the city is designed around people. People take the time to walk down street and you can actively engage in civic life instead of viewing it through your car window as you zoom past it. 

I’m interested in understanding more about the differences and similarities that exist between cities that are development around the auto-industry, like many cities in the US and cities that are developed around water-passages or cities that antacede the invention of the car. What can we learn from both cases? Are there successes and failures associated with both instances?

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Budapest

Budapest_3
Szent Gellért tér (metróállomás)

“There is no logic that can be superimposed on the city; people make it, and it is to them, not buildings, that we must fit our plans.”
― Jane Jacobs

From Vitruvius’s Ten Books of Architecture, we discover that the built environment throughout history could be viewed as a projection of allegories rather than the strict product of reason. By allegories we can further expand on the idea that cities need to be a reflection of the history and culture of the people who occupy the environment, not just a replication of a single product. A city needs to be reflective of the urban subconscious that exists and which in turn reinforces city-form and human development.