Happy City Book Summary By Charles Montgomery

*This post contains affiliate links, and we may earn an affiliate commission without it ever affecting the price you pay.

Happy City (2013) is a book that discusses how city planning can have an impact on our quality of life in cities.

Written by Charles Montgomery, it examines the history of urban sprawl and design blunders, as well as strategies to create environments that promote socialization, relaxation and exercise.

The book outlines how features in a city can make or break the quality of life for its inhabitants, and provides suggestions for creating more livable environments.

It's an essential read for anyone wanting to understand the complexities of city life and live happier lives in our ever-growing urban centers.

Happy City Book

Book Name: Happy City (Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design)

Author(s): Charles Montgomery

Rating: 4.5/5

Reading Time: 15 Minutes

Categories: Society & Culture

Author Bio

Charles Montgomery is an experienced writer and journalist, highly regarded for his work on urban engagement.

He won the coveted Charles Taylor Prize in 2005, with his book The Shark God highlighting his expertise in the field of cities.

His next major publication was the best-selling Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design, which delves deep into examining how we can all contribute to making cities more productive and livable.

With incredible insight and knowledge, Montgomery offers action steps for everyday people to join together in creating positive changes for our cities and building a happier society.

Charles Montgomery is one of the world’s go-to experts when it comes to designing better cities for better lives and has the track record to prove it.

Creating Happy Cities: Lessons In Urban Design For A Positive Vibe

Positive Vibe

We know that some cities are overflowing with vibrant energy while others simply lack a certain je ne sais quoi.

But why is this the case? Well, when it comes to urban design, it may surprise you to learn that it can make all the difference.

That’s right – urban design has an influence on our happiness and well-being!

The Happy City Book talks about how city planning can be used to promote contentment and satisfaction among citizens.

Through their research, they discovered that sensible city planning promotes social interactions, equality and communality – all of which have a great impact on our overall feelings of joy and delight.

So if you’re interested in learning more about how urban design can foster happiness, then check out The Happy City Book!

You’ll learn why parks with trees are great, why driving in a congested city is rather stressful, and why living in California won’t necessarily guarantee your long-term happiness.

The Suburban Sprawl: How City Planning Has Led To Unhappiness

When city planners of the early twentieth century designed cities, their idea was to create areas where people could live healthier lives in comparison to the overcrowded and unsanitary conditions of industrial cities.

Unfortunately, what ensued when city-dwellers moved out of the city center and into the suburbs has not quite gone as they had hoped.

In recent years, it has become increasingly clear that suburban residents have been pushed out from many needed resources, including quality schools, medical care and enjoyable places to socialize.

These long commutes leave people tired and unsatisfied with their day-to-day lives.

Additionally, John Halliwell’s research on Gallup World Polls found that relationships with other people impact happiness far more than income; unfortunately for suburbanites, all that time spent commuting doesn’t leave room for much social interaction.

Overall, the suburbs have not had a positive effect on many citizens’ quality of life and happiness as initially intended.

Government action is often required to improve livability in modern cities; luckily though, it isn’t too late for cities to turn around – if plans are implemented now, there is still much potential for improving the lives of citizens all over.

Creating Safe And Inviting Common Spaces Brings People Together

Banning cars from city streets and staying on top of maintenance can definitely make public spaces attractive, inviting and safe.

This was evidenced when Copenhagen’s City Council decided in 1962 to prohibit car traffic on downtown roads, creating a network of car-free roads called Strøget.

Despite the apprehension from some, the Strøget was soon filled with happy urban residents.

At the same time, trash, graffiti and damaged pavement in public spaces can have real effects on visitors too.

Studies have shown that these sights can create negative feelings such as fear and anxiety among citizens, especially elderly people.

It’s understandable why they would feel anxious; places that are unkempt create a subconscious feeling of danger.

To encourage more people to take advantage of public spaces, keeping them clean is essential!

These two elements – banning cars and staying on top of maintenance – together can help keep public spaces appealing to all those who visit or traverse them.

With these tactics in play, people will be more than willing to get outdoors and socialize within their public areas – which will ultimately create strong ties between community members as a result!

The Power Of Nature In Urban Landscapes: How Small Spaces Can Make A Big Difference In Our Moods

Urban Landscapes

The research is clear that small parks with a dense and diverse array of plants and animals can have an enormously positive effect on urban dwellers.

This is true even when the park or green space is quite small.

A tour around Manhattan captured by the BMW Guggenheim Lab illustrated this point perfectly.

The most unhappy moments came near a public housing project with bare facades, but just a little further down the road, participants found happiness thanks to a restaurant with some vines growing up its walls.

It was this small amount of nature that made it the happiest spot on the tour!

Biologist Richard Fuller confirmed these findings when his team surveyed visitors to parks in Sheffield, England.

Those who visited parks with more trees, vegetation and animals said they had more positive feelings than those who visited parks with wide lawns and fewer trees.

It’s clear that smart urban planning can help city-dwellers get in touch with nature in daily life – and enrich their lives because of it.

The Perfect City: Finding The Right Balance Between Isolation And Community

The crowding in many of today’s large cities can put us in a state of sensory overload and make us feel overwhelmed.

This leads to a natural desire to create stable barriers to protect ourselves from the chaos we experience.

Psychologist Stanley Milgram observed this phenomenon when comparing people in small towns with people in big cities, noting that the former were much more likely to provide help to strangers than those in a metropolitan area.

Urban planner Andrew Baum conducted an experiment at Stony Brook University in 1973 which shed more light on this matter.

Students living along one long corridor, with a shared bathroom and communal lounge area at the end, complained of stress and had difficulty making friends with other residents.

Conversely, students living in dorms separated into suites with a shared bath and lounge areas only used by three student bedrooms tended to be more social and willing to assist each other.

The message is clear – if we want happy cities, then they must find balance between providing space while still facilitating enough interaction between citizens that they are able get support when they need it most.

A good city will give residents the opportunity escape when their nerves are frayed by giving them private alcoves where they can rest and restore themselves before rejoining society again.

The Dangers Of Poor Judgment In City Planning: Don’t Let Bias Blind You To The Future

When it comes to decisions concerning urban life, it’s essential to be wary of bias and poor planning.

A person looking for a new home or city planners designing the layout of a future city can both make decisions that don’t take into account all the factors that determine happiness in a certain urban environment.

To illustrate, when asked to pick between two cities – California and Ohio – most people’s first instinct is to choose California because of its lovely weather, without taking into consideration things like crowdedness or air pollution.

Likewise, 1960s Atlanta implemented an urban highway expansion project as a way of dealing with its traffic issues.

While this plan seemed effective at first, more people eventually bought cars and filled up the streets again due more than five years later.

Another example can be seen in the case of Brasília, which was designed by architect Oscar Niemeyer with a modernist structure intending to create order and egalitarianism among inhabitants – yet people ended up feeling disorientated and lonely because Niemeyer hadn’t taken their emotional connections into account.

All these examples serve as a reminder that when it comes to modifications concerning urban life, ignorance towards biases and an inadequate planning process can lead us astray from fulfilling our objectives.

Encouraging Pedestrianism And Bicycle Use In Cities For Improved Health And Quality Of Life

Improved Health

It’s no wonder that when it comes to commuting, those who bike or walk are the happiest.

With cars taking up so much public space in cities, there’s often barely any room for anyone on two wheels.

Driving through a city is hardly ever a pleasant experience – our body releases stress hormones in traffic, and over time these can take a toll on our health.

On the other hand, self-propelled mobility such as walking or biking has been known to make people happier.

Even children prefer walking to school than waiting for their lift!

Smart city planners recognize this benefit and focus on creating an environment which makes it easier for residents to move around themselves.

Paris is shining example of this – they introduced Vélib’, a bike share system with bicycles available at stations around the city making it easier for commuters to pick up and drop off a bike near their destination.

This resulted in massive increase in number of people traveling by bike!

Making roads more inviting can also be enough to get more feet off the vehicles!

Simple improvements like opting against drive-in malls and being mindful of trendy streets encourages people to explore the city on foot instead.

How Public Transport Benefits Everyone: The Political Impact Of Enrique Peñalosa’S Reforms In Bogotá

Enrique Peñalosa’s radical changes to the lives of urban dwellers in Bogotá showed that the happiest cities are driven by urban planning that redistributes resources to the less privileged.

By introducing car-free days, fast bus lanes, better bicycle paths and reduced traffic on central avenues, Peñalosa made it possible for everyone to gain access to transportation without having to depend on owning a car.

The public space of Bogotá was now being used for the public good – with TransMilenio, a fast bus system accessible by anyone regardless of income.

This didn’t go down well with those who could afford cars and they complained accordingly.

However, these interventions proved not just successful but politically significant as well.

They were an example of how urban improvement can be used as an effective tool for social equality and justice for all citizens – no matter their economic background or status.

The people of Bogotá felt this when their lives began to improve – something they hadn’t experienced in decades prior!

Wrap Up

The overall message of Happy City is clear: Urban environments can be improved to make our lives healthier and more pleasant.

To do this, cities should focus on energy-efficient transportation, creating green areas and connecting people with nature, as well as giving people a sense of community.

Therefore, the actionable advice from the book is to take time when researching a new city to see if it will support a healthy lifestyle.

Look at public transport options, crowd levels and natural spaces before you move there – these are all key factors to consider when finding a happy place to live.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.