"It is often surprising to measure some of America's favorite and most successful public spaces — New York's Rockefeller Center, San Antonio's River Walk, San Francisco's Ghirardelli Square — and discover how small they actually are," Speck tells us. "Few are much broader than sixty yards across. And let's not forget Disney's Main Street, famously built at three-quarters scale."
The message is that a successful city has roots and causes, and among the most important of these is a sense of the street. Speck draws on Jane Jacobs, a favorite theorist, to make the point explicit: "Lowly, unpurposeful, and random as they may appear, sidewalk contacts are the small change from which a city's wealth of public life may grow."
And yet, the strength of "Walkable City" is that it's not a no-brainer, not in a culture in which it often seems we have done everything we can to make street life obsolete. Such a shift was partly a response to the urban decay of the mid-20th century, which led to freeways and other infrastructure projects that eviscerated neighborhoods. -David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times