Green Metropolis

Jan 24, 2011

In this remarkable challenge to conventional thinking about the environment, David Owen argues that the greenest community in the United States is not Portland, Oregon, or Snowmass, Colorado, but New York City.

Most Americans think of crowded cities as ecological nightmares---as wastelands of concrete and garbage and diesel fumes and traffic jams. Yet residents of compact urban centers, David Owen shows, individually consume less oil, electricity, and water than other Americans. They live in smaller spaces, discard less trash, and, most important of all, spend far less time in automobiles. Residents of Manhattan---the most densely populated place in North America---rank first in public-transit use and last in per-capita greenhouse gas production, and they consume gasoline at a rate that the country as a whole hasn't matched since the mid-1920s, when the most widely owned car in the United States was the Ford Model T. They are also among the only people in the United States...