New Urbanism originally started as a greenfield movement in the 1980’s, but the market crash in 2008 made financing projects more difficult. Since then, a new movement aspired to redevelop and revitalize entire regions. Residents fought for walkable streets and proximity to shops over suburban areas where driving was standard. Thus started the New Urbanism movement.
There is a vast amount of infrastructure in historic towns that have been long neglected and can be built on again. The street grid provides the structure for the mixed-use neighborhoods and developers only need to rehabilitate the city or add in new buildings. Historic cities provide some of the best locations. So there is little need to construct a town from scratch if people are willing to reinhabit these locations.
New Urbanists plan to next revitalize the suburbs. Many suburbs have evolved into areas where walking is no longer an option. The post WWII suburbs hold the most potential with 26 million houses built from 1946 to 1965. These suburb areas were built with connecting streets and commercial strips that are hardly used today. The goal is to revamp these areas with parking lots, multilane streets, and walkable zones.
The last stage in the New Urbanist movement would be to create new street grids. The grids do not have to be rectangular like most streets that were built in the country in the 19th century, but they do need to be connected both internally and externally. New Urbanists realize that new street grids could take decades, but they also know that connected street networks are the key to developed communities. The New Urbanism movement is emerging slowly with a path that will take generations to complete.