Perfect Plano

September 13th, 2011

We’ve been talking about moving to a new city. To be honest, it’s something we’ve been talking about for years. Since we haven’t left Richmond yet, it’s doubtful that we’ll ever leave. I’m worried that we will talk about it forever, too scared of change to actually do it. In the meanwhile, we will suffer from feeling like we’re living in limbo, never becoming comfortable enough to settle down here because of the tiny chance that we might pack up and leave.

Anyway. Plano, Texas landed on our list of potential cities. Knowing nothing about it, I began my research by looking at it on a map.

The first thing I noticed was the uniformly spaced grid. Major roads are approximately one mile apart. This might not be surprising to anybody who lives west of the Appalachian mountains, especially if you’re familiar with square townships created as a result of the Land Ordinanace of 1785. But where I’m from, no suburbs are arranged on a grid. The streets are dynamic, or curvy. Much space is wasted.

Upon zooming in, I noticed something even more fascinating. At every major intersection, there is a shopping center. Hubs of commercial activity are never more than a mile away! Coming from a suburb where you can’t walk anywhere, the layout of Plano is very appealing.

Critics might accuse this type of suburban development as boring, but I think it’s perfect. It allows residents to have their own slice of land, but in a dense enough fashion to support walkability. And of course, the organized grid satisfies my appetite for order. There are one or two areas around here that resemble this style of development, but most of the suburbs surrounding Richmond are more capacious with unnecessarily large residential lots and buffers of undeveloped space between neighborhoods.

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