Thursday, 26 November 2015

Contrasting cities

Houston is a city that prides itself on being one of the largest cities in the United States of America. Houston has three freeway belts circling the city which provides access to surrounding towns and cities to commute into Downtown Houston. Houston is a very wealthy city with major global companies such as Exxon Mobile, Facebook, and BP Petroleum. With these companies located in the city, it makes Houston have a very large philanthropic arm. Houston wants to expand their shipping port due to their geographic location. Being located on the coast of the United States and in the Gulf of Mexico, gives Houston a great advantage to become the largest port in North America as it can serve both the East and West Coasts simultaneously. In order for Houston to achieve this, they need to expand the port as well as expand the Panama Canal.

Uptown Houston is proposing to redevelopment the existing Oak Boulevard into a world class Grand Boulevard whilst still protecting the current vehicle access. The redevelopment will include improving the transit service and creating a sophisticated landscape area for the pedestrian environment. There is a lot of mixed use in the area as the Uptown Houston Area is gentrifying and redeveloping. This is causing a lot of delays and traffic, which Uptown Houston is currently trying to rectify.

The public transport in Austin is very poor. Austin is not very well linked between the Central Business District and the surrounding suburbs. There are very limited bus services as well as little cycling infrastructure. The city is dominated by roads and freeways. There are major freeways running through the centre of the city. Although Austin is a planned city, it doesn’t particularly feel like one. Besides the CBD in a grid formation, many roads leading out into the suburbs seem to go all over the place. The cycling infrastructure in Austin is very poor also, there are some bike share facilities in the area, but they are very expensive. Spending $12 for the first 30 minutes of riding then and additional $4 every half hour, justifies the reason as to why not a lot of people use the shared system as having the bike for 8 hours is close to $70. The CBD of Austin needs a light rail or a train service, as getting from one side of the city to the other is quite a long walk and is in desperate need of some sort of public transport other than the occasional bus service. In saying that, Austin is currently has a small light rail system that traverses from Downtown Austin to the Northern suburbs of Austin. Comparing the public transport to other services in the United States, shows that Austin is heavily reliant on cars and could be considered as a car dominated city.

Where Steven and Rebecca reside in Mueller, Austin was once the site of the Robert Mueller International Airport that served Austin, before closing and opening the current one. Mueller is a community that is centred on the parks and lake in the centre of the suburb. Within the community, there are a mixture of residential, commercial and retail developments, along with designated parks and green space, with many of the elements completed and many more in the planning stages. There are numerous eco-friendly green spaces that are within Mueller with the lake at the centre of the community with hiking and cycling trails and the historic Browning Hangar, which has now been converted into an open-air amphitheatre. The hanger currently houses the community’s weekly Farmer’s market and is also used for special events.

Steven Oscari