The real-estate subdivisions east of the city are not all there is to Long Island. The South Shore is my home. It is still mostly unspoiled, well protected, and largely in public ownership. Those of us who work at the problems that critics chatter about go down to the sea in cars and ships for respite, to fish, swim, soak up sun, and refresh our spirits, and in off seasons to wander in the anonymous enveloping ocean mist. Our fog appears, not stealing in on cat feet, but as a ghostly emanation of the sea, in silence punctuated only by the muffled bell and intermittent warning of the buoys along the hidden channels. Here we knit up the ravell'd sleave of care. Who are these pundits to say we have neglected our problems or that others might solve them better?
The cultures, amenities, and attractions of cities, suburbs, exurbs, and open country are manifestly different but complement each other. The sanest, best-balanced people are those who spend part of the year in each area and do not stay continuously under urban pressure. In that way they get the best of the city and of the more or less open spaces. A shack nearby or shelter in some vast wilderness will shortly be within the reach of most families.
In Mr. Mumford's recent gloom book, Baron Haussmann, a giant among planners, who saved Paris and turned it into a modern city, is contemptuously dismissed as a bulldozer and sadistic wrecker of fine old neighborhoods.
Here is some further pontification:
"To keep the advantages first discovered in the closed city, we must create a more porous pattern, richer in both social and esthetic variety. Residential densities of about one hundred people per net acre, exclusive of streets and sidewalks, will provide usable private gardens and encourage small public inner parks for meeting and relaxing. This can be achieved without erecting the sterile, spacemangling high-rise slabs that now grimly parade, in both Europe and America, as the ultimate contribution of 'modern' architecture."
Can anyone possibly believe that garden apartments housing over one hundred persons an acre are uncivilized and that small public inner parks have not been repeatedlyconsidered and found wholly unworkable?
To sum up, let me ask the Gamaliels of the city a few pointed questions.
By what practical and acceptable means would they limit the growth of population?
How would they reduce the output of cars, and if they could, what would take the place of the car as an employer of workers or as a means of transport in a motorized civilization?
If more cars are inevitable, must there not be roads for them to run on? If so, they must be built somewhere, and built in accordance with modern design. W.here? This is a motor age, and the motorcar spells mobility.
Is the present distinction between parkways, landscaped limited-access expressways, boulevards, ordinary highways, and city streets unscientific? If so, what do the critics propose as a substitute?