The Last Landscape
William H. Whyte. Foreword by Tony Hiss
"When it was first published, The Last Landscape was radical stuff. As much as Silent Spring challenged American science to recognize its long-term responsibilities, Whyte's book asked communities, the government, and the design profession to do the same. Four decades later, this book is just as timely, the only difference is that the logic is now mainstream and the evidence is overwhelming."—Paco Underhill, author of Why We Buy
"An excellent book."—Jane Jacobs
"A practical handbook for all who care enough to fight for a more liveable environment."—Washington Post
The remaining corner of an old farm, unclaimed by developers. The brook squeezed between housing plans. Abandoned railroad lines. The stand of woods along an expanded highway. These are the outposts of what was once a larger pattern of forests and farms, the "last landscape." According to William H. Whyte, the place to work out the problems of our metropolitan areas is within those areas, not outside them. The age of unchecked expansion without consequence is over, but where there is waste and neglect there is opportunity. Our cities and suburbs are not jammed; they just look that way. There are in fact plenty of ways to use this existing space to the benefit of the community, and The Last Landscape provides a practical and timeless framework for making informed decisions about its use.
Called "the best study available on the problems of open space" by the New York Times when it first appeared in 1968, The Last Landscape introduced many cornerstone ideas for land conservation, urging all of us to make better use of the land that has survived amid suburban sprawl. Whyte's pioneering work on easements led to the passage of major open space statutes in many states, and his argument for using and linking green spaces, however small the areas may be, is a recommendation that has more currency today than ever before.
William H. Whyte (1917-1999) was editor of Fortune magazine and Distinguished Professor at Hunter College of the City University of New York. He was the author numerous books on social and environmental analysis, including City: Rediscovering the Center and The Organization Man, both of which are available from the University of Pennsylvania Press.
Tony Hiss, former staff writer for the New Yorker, is a visiting scholar at the Taub Urban Research Center, New York University. He is the author of The Experience of Place.