I traveled several times to Brazil during the early 2000s and made good friends in Sâo Paulo. I became fascinated with Brazil’s great industrial powerhouse. I had never before seen a city so immense, so vast and densely spread out like a human hive. In 2004 the city celebrated its 450th anniversary, so I wrote a short blurb about that for Américas magazine. Later, after another trip, I wrote a feature article about Sâo Paulo. Finally in 2004 I went for four months, on a US State Dept. fellowship that supported my work for the regional planning agency Emplasa.
After my visit to Milan, I went to see friend Dave Stein in Vienna and began to learn about that interesting city. Dave, a graduate school colleague, already knew the city and its transportation system very well. I suggested that we write an article for Urban Land and Dave came up with the concept, Vienna Turns Again to the East.
One night I went to a party in an artist’s apartment in Pilsen. It was a little basement apartment crowded with people and the guy’s paintings. A belly dancer came from behind curtains. Stepping onto a little carpet, she went into a slow, strange gyrating dance. I liked it so much I wrote an article about the dancer.
I received a journalism fellowship in ’04 to traverse Europe’s farm markets, but I couldn’t break away til the fall of ’06. I saw cows, goats and pigs in five countries and talked to farmers who leave their wild boars to eat acorns in the forest. I learned about chestnuts in Italy. I produced little journalism from it but wrote this little essay.
Planners are now devoted to building up little cities around rail stations, and if it can be done in metro Dallas it can be done anywhere. The movement toward station density was just getting started there when I wrote Suburbia Revisited.