A former San Franciscan living in Barcelona, Dani Z writes:
Cities are like systems, encouraging and shaping behavior by creating situations which are taken for granted and eventually perceived as ordinary, even obvious.
Barcelona creates a framework that encourages easy socialization: cheap, delightful and plentiful restaurants and cafes, a high density, relatively compact city, walking routes that are so beautiful they are destinations within themselves and public spaces that don’t require you to buy anything to stay all make it easy to spend time with people… and so people spend more time with people, which is turn makes them happier.
North American cities…even San Fran to some degree… are by contrast isolating experiences that discourage socialization by forcing it to revolve around a costly consumer experience and by making it so hard to achieve: people are spread out and there are no easy ways to mitigate the physical distance. Cabs aren’t cheap. Transit is mostly not great. The roads are congested.
From what I read: good urban design & city planning should give as much importance to sociability as the aesthetics. I don’t think most (not all) apply the “emotional quotient” to designing physical experiences. How many city planners think about the happiness of its citizens. You can see it in San Francisco’s current frenzied, rampant & unplanned growth. The city is becoming decidedly less social. No wonder we need on-demand services such as Postmates, Munchery, Google Express and all other conveniences of urban isolation!