AHC/WI: More European-style cities in the United States

American architecture looks markedly different from its European heritage. As a general rule, American architecture is more focused on practicality and less on the visual aspect of it. This owes to its roots in being a colony of Britain (and to a lesser extent France and Spain), where it was less wealthy than the mother country but also had more space to work with. I was wondering if there was ever any likelihood that US architecture could look more like its European roots, which is an interesting thought. Consider that in South America, in countries like Argentina and Brazil, you can definitely see a much more direct line to Europe in how the cities look.

Notably, there are some places in the US that look straight out of Europe. Such as Leavenworth, Washington (modeled after Bavaria, Germany), Solvang, California (the Danish capital of America), New Orleans, Louisiana (which definitely echoes its French roots), Vail, Colorado (modeled after Zermatt, Switzerland), Tarpon Springs, Florida (which looks like the Eastern Mediterranean, as it has the largest Greek community in America), and Pella, Iowa (which is heavily influenced by Dutch culture).

However, by and large these types of places are the exceptions, which makes them so notable. Is there any way for more European style cities in the United States to happen at large?

One idea that comes to mind is if Hotel Attraction had been made. It was a proposed building for New York City, by famed Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi, in the early 1900s. If it had been made, it would've been the center of NYC's culture (predating the Empire State Building) and influenced the architecture of the rest of New York, and subsequently other cities as they developed such as Philadelphia, Boston, Newark, Cleveland, Chicago etc., which often took after The Big Apple. But it was turned down for being too futuristic looking, which admittedly makes a lot of sense.

Any other ideas?
 
American architecture looks markedly different from its European heritage. As a general rule, American architecture is more focused on practicality and less on the visual aspect of it. This owes to its roots in being a colony of Britain (and to a lesser extent France and Spain), where it was less wealthy than the mother country but also had more space to work with. I was wondering if there was ever any likelihood that US architecture could look more like its European roots, which is an interesting thought. Consider that in South America, in countries like Argentina and Brazil, you can definitely see a much more direct line to Europe in how the cities look.

Notably, there are some places in the US that look straight out of Europe. Such as Leavenworth, Washington (modeled after Bavaria, Germany), Solvang, California (the Danish capital of America), New Orleans, Louisiana (which definitely echoes its French roots), Vail, Colorado (modeled after Zermatt, Switzerland), Tarpon Springs, Florida (which looks like the Eastern Mediterranean, as it has the largest Greek community in America), and Pella, Iowa (which is heavily influenced by Dutch culture).

However, by and large these types of places are the exceptions, which makes them so notable. Is there any way for more European style cities in the United States to happen at large?

One idea that comes to mind is if Hotel Attraction had been made. It was a proposed building for New York City, by famed Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi, in the early 1900s. If it had been made, it would've been the center of NYC's culture (predating the Empire State Building) and influenced the architecture of the rest of New York, and subsequently other cities as they developed such as Philadelphia, Boston, Newark, Cleveland, Chicago etc., which often took after The Big Apple. But it was turned down for being too futuristic looking, which admittedly makes a lot of sense.

Any other ideas?
Prevent the suburban sprawl. Make US cities more compact with good public transport
 
Part of the reason Latin American cities look more European is that they're older than most US cities, and many if them had significant wealth passing through during the colonial period that could be invested in architecture. New Orleans and Quebec City also have very European old quarters, because they are old and major ports. Hell, even Melbourne in Australia has architecture that resembles Victorian British cities, because it was built in the 19th Century and had vast wealth from the gold rush.

Most US cities don't really resemble European cities because most of the architecture is 20th Century, especially late 20th Century, and most US cities' historic cores were demolished to make way for skyscrapers and freeways (and for racist reasons too). European cities built in the 20th Century don't tend to look that different to North American ones, the major difference tends to be that they're more compact (a function of having less free land) and have better public transport.
 
American architecture looks markedly different from its European heritage.

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Can you tell which of the above are British and which American? 😜
 
American architecture looks markedly different from its European heritage. As a general rule, American architecture is more focused on practicality and less on the visual aspect of it.

That's not really true at all. American architecture designed and built in the 19th and early 20th centuries took after the same inspiration that European architecture designed and built in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Lots and lots of revivalism. It's not until the 20s and 30s that you start to see the "practical" designs that you're speaking of really start to take off and it's worth noting that most European designs of the mid-late 20th century period look similar. It's not until recently that the brutalist and other related styles have fallen out of favor.

The reason why it may seem to be more prevalent than it is is because a lot of media in the US is focused on California or other Sun Belt areas that only saw their growth after the aforementioned rise in "practical" styles in the 20s and 30s. But look at the city centers of even mid or small sized cities in the urban Northeast and Midwest like Albany or Milwaukee and you'll see a lot of "visual" focused architecture.
 
I was referring to it as a general rule. Hell, I even made a list of places with image links of cities in America that look straight out of Europe.
Actually, the images (American ones) are from the list of those that could but did not end up looking “European” . And there are old cities with the preserved pre-revolutionary buildings which had been built along the contemporary British lines.


But then, again, what is “European” look? If anything, Gaudi’s architecture is not “typical” even for Barcelona and NYC does not have uniform architecture either (some of the townhouses in my earlier post are from it). In SF the movies tend to show the same few streets (with the cable cars) but the city has a vide variety of the architectures. The same can be said about Boston and the old suburban towns can be quite eclectic:
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I think the only- well, best way- to do this is to prevent the introduction of the motor car- & that would be
impossible(though if anyone has any suggestions on how to do this, please post!)
 
I think the only- well, best way- to do this is to prevent the introduction of the motor car- & that would be
impossible(though if anyone has any suggestions on how to do this, please post!)
Actually, would not work everywhere. Outside Boston there are numerous abandoned railroads which used to connect it to the suburbia and as I understand this was quite “British” at that time. Cars killed most of these RRs but the cities already had been there (many of them before the RRs had been built).

But is it really relevant within framework of the OP? It’s assumption was that the architectural differences were due to the combination of an initial lesser wealth and a greater space. Really old surviving houses of the North-Eastern “suburbia” (all the way to the early XVIII) are seemingly not too different from their British equivalents except for the wood as a prevailing material, which was mostly a matter of availability rather than wealth. Of course, on a high end the European houses/mansions of the rich were more impressive than those of the American rich of the XVIII - early XIX. But the British-style “brownstones” of NYC and Boston had been mostly constructed in the mid-XIX when the wealth already had been there and space became costly.
 
There's a lot of those still around they were just butchered by car lobbies and zoning laws. Best way is to change the way cars were developed in the US. Keep public transportation and trains popular.
 
One idea that comes to mind is if Hotel Attraction had been made. It was a proposed building for New York City, by famed Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi, in the early 1900s. If it had been made, it would've been the center of NYC's culture (predating the Empire State Building) and influenced the architecture of the rest of New York,
Interesting fact about the hotel attraction. It would have been where the WTC was.

Didn't stop them from adding it to the New York skyline in the show Fringe.

I think it would have looked pretty awesome definitely futuristic but amazing.

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There are two things that effected the way that the US cities look. that if you want a european style of city, then you need to account for.

the first is remaking the cities for Cars to be depedent upon the car. The second is the rise in skyscrappers. Acounting for both of these is what one would need if they want to have more european cities. Cities in the US were like this, as the cities were built like europeans. Take Boston for example, here is a 19th century map that gives an idea of what the city looked like before either cars or skyscrappers.


brm1588-bachmann-boston-1850-3000x2212.jpg


Not that different from many European cities of the time. So keeping public transit funded, including both inter and intra urbans is important here. You need to keep cities human scale and walkability to be important.

For avoiding skyscrapers, I would probably have the cities pass laws in regard to max height laws. You should have the big cities in do this, so New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, etc should avoid including skyscrapers. You need the big important cities to be on board because as other cities are founded they are going to look to the successful cities, ie the big important ones, on how to build a city.
 
There are two things that effected the way that the US cities look. that if you want a european style of city, then you need to account for.

the first is remaking the cities for Cars to be depedent upon the car. The second is the rise in skyscrappers. Acounting for both of these is what one would need if they want to have more european cities. Cities in the US were like this, as the cities were built like europeans. Take Boston for example, here is a 19th century map that gives an idea of what the city looked like before either cars or skyscrappers.


brm1588-bachmann-boston-1850-3000x2212.jpg


Not that different from many European cities of the time. So keeping public transit funded, including both inter and intra urbans is important here. You need to keep cities human scale and walkability to be important.

Unfortunately, this idyl hit the problem: a classic Boston could not accommodate the growing population so the city filled the swamp shown in front of the picture and built … not skyscrapers but the townhouses 3-5 floors high. Of course, it now has its share of the relatively low skyscrapers (the tallest is less the 800 feet high) in the business area (which you can cross on foot in 10-15 minutes) and on the ocean-front which is kept being built now (even smaller). Here is its business part.

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And here is the residential/shopping area:
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Taking into an account relatively small size of Boston itself (without formerly separate cities absorbed by Boston after they went bankrupt), it’s public transportation is fine: it has T (metro), buses, trolleys and trains going outside the city. The problem is that driving into the city and especially parking is an expensive nightmare.

Now, the European cities did not remain intact since the early XIX so the implication that London and Paris are still cozy XIX century places with no cars is a pure fantasy. Of course, neither is as ugly as Manhattan but nonetheless
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Even Barcelona is not dominated by Sagrada Familia (which they finally completed):

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Delay invention of Bessemer steel so no skyscrapers or railroads, cities are low rise masonry and centered around water transportation.
 
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