Get Urban!: The Complete Guide to City Living by Kyle Ezell

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This book helps the reader understand urban ways of living, choose a personality-matching urban type, and evaluate specific urban areas for livability. This book's strength is its evocation of the joys of urban living. Ezell conveys the feelings of freedom and serendipity that diverse, human-scaled, and walkable urban environments can give. He describes the idea of urban energy--emotional responses to urban forms--and how surface parking lots drain it.

Ezell presents instructions for understanding and choosing urban environments. He presents a taxonomy of urban types and examples of these types:

Ezell's general guidance about thinking urban--meeting needs for work, shopping, and entertainment in a walkable neighborhood--serves as a guide for readers as well as a perspective that urban planners should examine.

My only critcism of this book is that Ezell has downplayed some of the difficult issues urban dwellers face. While he points out that urban crime is often a matter of fear than reality (pp. 237-238), he does little to caution readers about very real urban problems. To be fair, his book seems to assume its readers have a sense of self-protection before reading. Moreover, this book is not meant to be an urban safety or self-defense manual. However, urban issues such as dangerous automobile traffic for pedestrians, panhandlers, graffiti, illegal drug sellers and buyers, prostitution, violent or aggressive street people, and organized criminal gangs and organizations are a very real part of urban living. These problems, I believe, need not negate the positive aspects of urban living. In fact, if politicians, city planners, and citizens would consider dealing with some of these issues, urban living would become even more attractive.

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