What explains the fact that most European cities gracefully end at some point, giving way to green countryside at their edges, unlike the endless miles of sprawl in America? How is it that public life and street culture feel so much richer? Why do you seldom see slums?
Intrigued by these questions, I have returned to Europe over a number of years seeking answers. In scores of interviews with urban planners, transportation authorities, politicians, activists, and everyday citizens, I learned that a clear set of public policies accounts for the different spirit of European metropolitan centers. It’s not just the antiquity of the towns, but also the way people there think about urban life.