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Face-To-Face Places

Working paper #635
Joel Garreau

Networked computers are changing settlement patterns faster and more radically than did earlier forms of transportation such as railroads, airplanes, or even automobiles. The result is what the author refers to as the Santa-Fe-ing of the built environment. The central feature of this settlement pattern are villages that, thanks to technology, are highly urbane and highly conducive to face-to-face contact, while being widely dispersed and only marginally urban in terms of size. This combination of equal and seemingly opposite effects—dispersion and urbanity—is taking place far beyond our old ideas of urban or even suburban, and emerging faster even than was the case with the automobile suburbs. Santa-Fe-like growth is showing up in places far beyond any metropolitan area: the Big Sky Country of Montana, the Gold Country of the California Sierras, the Piedmont of Virginia and North Carolina, and the mountains and coasts of New England.

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