Marshall, Alex 1959–
Marshall, Alex 1959–
Born 1959, in Norfolk, VA. Education: Earned bachelor's degree from Carnegie-Mellon University and master's degree from Columbia University.
Urban planner and journalist. Virginian-Pilot, Norfolk, VA, staff writer, 1989-97; Regional Plan Association, New York, NY, senior fellow and editor of newsletter. Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Loeb fellow, 1999-2000.
German-Marshall European Community Journalism fellowship, 1994.
How Cities Work: Suburbs, Sprawl, and the Roads Not Taken, University of Texas Press (Austin, TX), 2000.
Beneath the Metropolis: The Secret Lives of Cities, edited by David Emblidge, Caroll & Graf (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor to periodicals, including New York Times Magazine, Metropolis, Boston Globe, Architectural Record, Washington Post, Salon.com, George, Architecture, Newsday, San Francisco Chronicle, and Slate. Transportation columnist for Governing magazine.
Alex Marshall, a native of Norfolk, Virginia, began working at the local Virginian-Pilot as a staff writer in 1989. As a journalist Marshall wrote on a number of topics, but focused primarily on urban development and design. This eventually led to his involvement with the New York-based Regional Plan Association, a group that seeks to improve upon the transportation system and maintain economic competitiveness of the thirty-one-county New York-New Jersey-Connecticut region. His work has earned him a journalism fellowship from the German-Marshall European Community as well as a Loeb fellowship with Harvard University Graduate School of Design.
In 2000 Marshall published his first book, How Cities Work: Suburbs, Sprawl, and the Roads Not Taken. In it he explains the relation between cities, people, and commerce, taking primary issue with transportation systems. Marshall claims that American cities grow and are shaped by the traffic engineers and the roads they lay. This sprawl into far-reaching areas around the city's downtown area takes away commerce from the core of the city and produces a center that is usually difficult to navigate by car and is not particularly commercially affluent or people-friendly. Marshall gives four unique and differing case studies, covering Celebration, Florida, Jackson Heights, New York, Silicon Valley, California, and Portland, Oregon. Marshall faults a lack of local and regional government involvement for the decline of downtown areas.
A reviewer on the December Communications Web site noted that "Marshall's analysis of the role of government in building cities sheds a great deal of light on issues of sprawl." Writing in the American Prospect, Joanna Mareth thought that "Marshall's enthusiasm for urban places and active government is contagious." Library Journal contributor Drew Harrington summarized that "Marshall writes with wit, reason, and style, effectively driving home his well-researched premise that cities exist and evolve based on transportation systems, the building of wealth, and government guidance or misguidance."
Marshall's second book, Beneath the Metropolis: The Secret Lives of Cities, was published in 2006. Here Marshall outlines the way underground spaces are used in some of the world's largest cities. The twelve cities covered, including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Paris, Rome, and Sydney, make use of their subterranean spaces for telecommunications, water, electricity, and the movement of people. Through interviews with architects and city planners, research, and personal observations, Marshall explains the benefits and difficulties each locale has had in its underground projects. Frederick J. Augustyn, Jr., reviewing the book in the Library Journal, praised the "unique and colorful view" Marshall expressed in his "lavishly illustrated" volume.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Prospect, June 18, 2001, Joanna Mareth, review of How Cities Work: Suburbs, Sprawl, and the Roads Not Taken, p. 45.
Library Journal, May 1, 2001, Drew Harrington, review of How Cities Work, p. 76; October 15, 2006, Frederick J. Augustyn, Jr., review of Beneath the Metropolis: The Secret Lives of Cities, p. 73.
Metropolis, January, 2001, James Howard Kunstler, review of How Cities Work.
Alex Marshall Home Page,http://www.alexmarshall.org (August 15, 2007), author biography.
December Communications,http://www.december.com/ (August 15, 2007), review of How Cities Work.
Regional Plan Association Web site,http://www.rpa.org/ (August 15, 2007), author profile.