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This episode’s featured interview is with transportation expert and urbanist Taras Grescoe, author of Straphanger: Saving Our Cities and Ourselves from the Automobile. Taras writes: “In the 20th century, our greatest cities were almost ruined by the automobile. Only a global revolution in transportation can bring them back from the brink.” He consults on these matters and reports from cities around world from: Paris, to Moscow, Shanghai, Tokyo, Bogota, Vancouver, Phoenix. Taras Grescoe lives in Montreal. It’s a pleasure to welcome him to the podcast.

This episode also features a mini-yak with my old podcast sidekick Duncan Crary. Duncan has been working tirelessly, and making great strides, in promoting an urban Renaissance in the small upstate city of Troy, N.Y., where he lives. Upcoming on March 30 & 31, 2017, he will offer a New Urbanist-themed two-day class on “The Art of Small City PR & Spectacle,” at a school in Manhattan. For more information, visit his website:

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World Made By Hand (Fourth and Final)


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Kunstler skewers everything from kitsch to greed, prejudice, bloodshed, and brainwashing in this wily, funny, rip-roaring, and profoundly provocative page- turner, leaving no doubt that the prescriptive yet devilishly satiric A World Made by Hand series will continue.” — Booklist


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About James Howard Kunstler

View all posts by James Howard Kunstler
James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency, and Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation. His novels include World Made By Hand, The Witch of Hebron, Maggie Darling — A Modern Romance, The Halloween Ball, an Embarrassment of Riches, and many others. He has published three novellas with Water Street Press: Manhattan Gothic, A Christmas Orphan, and The Flight of Mehetabel.

18 Responses to “KunstlerCast 288 — Chatting with Urbanist and Transit Expert Taras Grescoe” Subscribe

  1. AHtheHumanity March 11, 2017 at 7:15 pm #

    Paris is beautiful and is designed to be spectated on foot because most of the buildings were built pre-automobile. During my brief tour in 1999, the only proper way to go about it was via foot. Peering through bus and taxi windows does not allow proper view of scale, it’s like watching a letterbox movie on a t.v. set. That in mind, much of North America is designed to be viewed by car or bus via highway loop…vast open stretches of natural landscape and mega structure cityscapes which you could never see from the ground…fitting inside the frame of your windshield/door/train window…along with all the commercial signage due to the fact that most collossal structures in America have a commercial or industrial use.

    No one really wants to deal with cities in a car because of traffic congestion!

    Most of Parisian buildings are not all in one 5 block building zone downtown like in the US; they are spread out over all 40 miles of Paris. The guest explains why this doesn’t seem to be so apparent because of the excellent transit system obscuring the distances.

    American downtowns are destinations within themselves without any obvious beautific qualities because they came up as primarily commercial and investment opportunities as brought out by the amount of foreign money in them…they are sold as blocks like in the game Monopoly. There may be a nice historic theater or baseball stadium or museum all funded by taxpayer money that attracts average citizens to downtown but overall it is the industrial activities that make America “great”, as in big money and the grocery store. Parisians and most of Europe have had a tradition of shopping for everything at mom & pop establishments in their neighborhoods only a walk away. This never translated to American lifestyles because of the commercialization of everything we do. Here it is less about historical perspective and relationships and more about making a buck.

    • Frankiti March 15, 2017 at 12:00 pm #

      Commerce and inevitably consumption habits arise when discussing cities. This is never questioned. The act of shopping, spending time looking and traveling to consume is horribly banal. People like to dress it up as civic participation, rubbing elbows and community interaction. Bullshit. Cities and villages were built around protection, then fabrication, then consumption. Consumption is waning outside of the craft brewery, noodle bar, and cup cakery… for now.

  2. thwack March 13, 2017 at 8:59 am #

    “much of North America is designed to be viewed by car or bus via highway loop…”



    I will go so far as to say, for a contemporary 18 year old young male, a legal, paid for, reliable automobile is more valuable than a high school diploma.

  3. Frankiti March 15, 2017 at 11:52 am #

    Most places are meant to be seen, or spectated, on foot. Getting around Paris on foot? No. Hence the métro. Arles, Trastevre, Barcelona’s gothic quarter, sure. There is scale, and it has limits.
    Cities are just as guilty as violating, here or there.

  4. Frankiti March 15, 2017 at 11:54 am #

    Glad to hear Duncan is promoting small cities, and is sticking with it.

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    A substantial part of Parisian Essay Service UK structures are not no matter how you look at it 5 square building zone downtown like in the US; they are spread out completed each one of the 40 miles of Paris.

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