Ken Greenberg’s Walking Home and the Parkway City Model

green cities walking paths

Ken Greenberg's Walking Home and the Parkway City Model

Think about the perfect place you want to live in: “I can live here, I can work close at hand, I can go to the park, I can get a library book, my kids can go to school here. People are taking to heart the idea that if I don’t have to take hours and hours to commute from where I live to where I work, if I don’t have to go so far to get my food if all these things can be in such close proximity, it can really work.  Ken Greenberg, architectural and urban planner and author of Walking Home: The Life and Lessons of a City Builder.


Ken Greenberg has done and seen it all: he has worked on rejuvenating downtowns, waterfronts, campuses, and neighborhoods, as well as planning new communities. He has worked in cities from Toronto and Montreal to Paris, Detroit, and San Juan, and his book, Walking Home, talks about the importance of a self-sufficient, accessible community, even in the midst of broken cities.

The car has dominated urban planning since after the Second World War; neighborhoods suddenly went from communities to stopping points. The bedroom community came into being as people lived in the suburbs and commuted into the city for work. We no longer connect with our neighborhoods. This, according to the Parkway City model and Greenberg’s own ideal walkable city, needs to change. Our current urban planning models are not sustainable, efficient, or, to be honest, a nice place to live for many of us.

Greenberg argues that we need to reclaim the promise of the city. Greenberg suggests we:

  • Make cities more diverse and adaptable.
  • Create more dense, vibrant public spaces. (I argue that density is not necessarily a great quality in a neighborhood! Land use does, however, have to be more carefully considered).
  • Integrate nature and the city.
  • Leave the car behind and start walking.
  • Create communities in which we know our neighbors and have a sense of pride.

While we differ in some ways, both Ken Greenberg and I envision a future in which we reclaim our cities and turn them into real neighborhoods and homes. The Parkway City does this by creating a walkable grid, more green space, and interconnected parks, congestion-reducing roadways for main streets, in-town and express traffic, multi-use buildings that are easily accessible to the community, efficient housing.

Both of us think about that perfect place we want to live in, the place that provides us with the means to be self-sufficient communities, to grow and develop in a sustainable, responsible way, and to enjoy home. What does perfect look like to you?

Richard Vermeulen - Construction Economist for Green Building

Richard Vermeulen is the construction economist creating profitable sustainability in the built environment. He’s the founder of GreenLight™, author of Green at No Cost, and developer of the Total Benefit Analysis and The Value Process as well as co-CEO, lead economist, and chief estimator for Vermeulens. Richard has developed industry-leading standards for estimating and data-basing complex construction projects throughout North America. In addition to consulting for thousands of major projects over 30 years, Richard has designed and built residential and commercial projects, from hammering nails to hound-dogging bureaucracies. He has traveled extensively, always with an awareness of how cities do and don’t work.

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