Note: This essay was originally written for Brian Stone’s graduate Land Use and Transportation Course.
The true center of the new [suburb] is not in some downtown business district but in each residential unit. - Robert Fishman
The typical city in the United States in the early part of the twenty-first century has a radically different urban form compared to its urban predecessors at the turn of the nineteenth or even the twentieth. Fishman, in the quote above this essay, argues that the modern city has completely disintegrated into the homes of its residents in an extreme polycentrism that is fundamentally different from what existed before. There was once a true center, in “some downtown business district,” and now there is not; each family or domestic unit has turned themselves inward towards their own lives and home rather than engaging with society around a particular core. This perspective is certainly valid, but is nonetheless urban-centric. There is a parallel perspective – if not necessarily a competing one – that the “true center” was never in that business district to begin with.