“The Coming Bold Transformation of the American City
Enrique Penalosa. April 30, 2013
In 40 years, 2.7 billion more people will live in world cities than do now, according to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Urban growth in China, India, and most of the developing world will be massive. But what is less known is that population growth will also be enormous in the United States.
The U.S. population will grow 36 percent to 438 million in 2050 from 322 million today. At today’s average of 2.58 persons per household, such growth would require 44.9 million new homes. However American households are getting smaller. If one were to estimate 2.2 persons per household—the household size in Germany today and the likely U.S. size by 2050—the United States would need 74.3 million new homes, not including secondary vacation homes. This means that over the next 40 years, the United States will build more homes than all those existing today in the United Kingdom, France, and Canada combined. Urban planner and theorist Peter Calthorpe predicts that California alone will add 20 million people and 7 million households by 2050.
To meet this demand, completely new urban environments will have to be created in the United States. Where and how will the new American homes be built? What urban structures are to be created?”
Photo: Battery Park City in Manhattan exemplifies how the quality of urban life can be enhanced by replacing waterfront roadways with parks or pedestrian infrastructure. (Left); A “highway” for pedestrians, bicycles, and transit on Jiménez Avenue in Bogotá, Colombia. (Right) Photo courtesy of Enrique Peñalosa.