Saturday, January 26, 2008

Choo Choos, Suburban Sprawl and New Urbanism

This morning was my 9 mile long run - my longest to date during the training plan.  I charted a loop course from my neighborhood past NIST through Olde Towne Gaithersburg past the other side of NIST and back to my neighborhood (see below).

Running through Olde Towne Gaithersburg reminded me of a lecture in a history class I took at The University of Michigan.  Professor Achenbaum discussed how the growth of America during the Industrial Revolution was fueled by the "choo choo train".  Towns and cities along the railway path saw tremendous growth as they were able to get their manufactured goods and agriculture to the big cities a lot easier than before (and they were able to get goods from the big cities easier as well).  Olde Towne Gaithersburg still has many of the original buildings from the late 1800s / early 1900s in close proximity to the old railroad station.  It is neat to see first hand how the railroad had an impact on the development and growth of this once agricultural town.

Running past NIST, various strip malls and housing developments demonstrated how cars - and the Interstate Highway System - had a huge impact on how cities grew in the post World War II era.  With everyone having their own car, cities were able to grow in this "suburban sprawl" way, putting people further from their jobs, their shopping and further from each other.

Then it was back into my "new urbanism" neighborhood.  I believe that this will be the new trend for growth - families gathering in common areas instead of their individual backyards, and people being closer to shopping areas and restaurants.  Bridging the old and the new...but enough about my random thoughts from this morning's run :-)

This morning I listened to more Mike and Mike Podcasts.  Since I was on vacation, I did not follow many stories in the sports world - I didn't even realize that Tom Brady had tweaked his ankle and was wearing a protective boot (it seemed to be one of the biggest sports stories of the week).  One inspiring story from last week was that of Ron Hunter, the basketball coach at IUPUI who coached a game barefoot this week to raise awareness for children in need.  His goal was to send 40,000 pairs of shoes to children in Africa...quite a wonderful story.

No comments: