Once upon a time, the American dream was the promise of possibility of prosperity and success. The true definition of such high dreams meant big houses, big cars, big families, big everything.It meant the “richer the better” and regardless of your social class and place of birth, you could achieve it, if you worked hard. Very much so, however, your social class and level of wealth was determined by the square footage of your house and the number of your bathrooms. It was also very much so transparent in the Declaration of Independence of “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”.
It is fair to say that, however, our precious dreams and needs have changed, just a little bit, from 1776 to fulfill -the still very precious- dreams of ours in 2011. The pollution is no longer at a level where we are required to step out of town to breath a healthy air.
Yes, the suburban life is still very much attractive to some, and freedom is most definitely one of the most important criteria in the Declaration of Independence; however, if the demands in the suburban areas are still high, so have to the planning+design function of them be. If the government of an area is encouraging its residents to move outside of the city, they need to consider the residents’ needs, and interests, of accessible shopping, dinning, and the experience of the natural landscape of where they live.
I am not here to say the American Dream is over, because as far as I am concerned, as long as we exist, so do our dreams. So, it is still very much possible to achieve “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”. But this time around, let’s shoot for urban houses, walkable streets, bikable roads, and mixed use communities.
Check out The new American Dream to see how some of our dreams are reshaping to match our needs and ideas in the 21st century.