In praise of Really Narrow Streets

Lately I’ve been following posts by the Old Urbanist and one of his main inspirations, Nathan Lewis. Lewis puts aside political issues of compromise with car boosters and examines the question of how we would want our environment to look if we weren’t planning for cars. He looks at pedestrian-oriented cities around the world and highlights examples of good design. One concept he refers to again and again is the Really Narrow Street.

These streets were usually created before cars were invented, and they have no place for cars. Some are too narrow for any car. Most are wide enough for one car to pass, but not much wider. There are examples from every continent, including Europe, Africa, Asia and South America.

In North America we have a few of these streets in some of our older towns. Here is one of the oldest, Acoma (established ca. 1300):