More than five decades have passed since Jane Jacobs wrote her classic The Death and Life of Great American Cities, and since a front page headline in the New York Times read, "Cars Choking Cities as 'Urban Sprawl' Takes Over." Yet sprawl persists, and not by mistake. It happens for a reason.
As an activist and a scholar, Benjamin Ross is uniquely placed to diagnose why this is so. Dead End traces how the ideal of a safe, green, orderly retreat where hardworking members of the middle class could raise their children away from the city mutated into the McMansion and strip mall-ridden suburbs of today. The problems of smart growth, sustainability, transportation, and affordable housing, he argues, are intertwined and must be solved as a whole. The two keys to creating better places to live are expansion of rail transit and a more genuinely democratic oversight of land use.
“Ben Ross’ Dead End is a highly personal account of a larger journey that we are embarked on as a
nation—from sprawl to walkable communities, from anoxic, sterile neighborhoods
to vibrant, transit-served urban areas that are the wellspring of innovation,
economic development and cultural richness.”—John Porcari, Former Deputy
Secretary, United States Department of Transportation
Benjamin Ross was president of Maryland's Action Committee for Transit for 15
years, which grew under his leadership into the nation's largest grass-roots
transit advocacy group. He is a consultant on environmental problems and served
on committees of the National Academy of Sciences and EPA Science Advisory
Board. He writes frequently on political and social topics in Dissent
Magazine and is the author of The Polluters: The Making of Our
Chemically Altered Environment.
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