Remember when Sarkozy asked all those fancy architects to re-imagine the best city in the world? And then they did, and their mock-ups were extraordinary, if a little absurd? (See garden towers at left.) It was a grand idea that addressed the reality that a lot of cities need to get with the times; that they need better connectivity geographically, socioeconomically, and racially; and that they need to remedy unsustainable infrastructure. It also threatened to completely change the very things that make Paris Paris: the way the city looks.Well, you can mostly forget all about that now, because reality has kicked in and those wild, Jetsons-y visions of the future are no more. Not that there weren't any warning signs. And not that it's a bad thing.Indeed, from the get-go, critics wondered how the hell Sarkozy would fund whichever city redesign he liked best. How, too, would he unite all the independent cities that are Paris's suburbs under one mega-city umbrella? Writes the Times: "The architects have provided the ribbons and the balloons, but few if any of the plans are likely to be carried out. Pressed by politics and financing, Mr. Sarkozy has concluded that he will reach for reduced goals that are grittier and essentially practical."The great news is that the practical ideas are actually very sound, and focus on infrastructure! I especially like the idea where surrounding suburbs get connected to each other by train. It would be a boon to residents and take the focus off Paris as an inconvenient and congested hub.What do you think? This is obviously less fun to think about that garden towers and monorails, but doesn't it make a lot sense from a sustainability angle?
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