I just read this from Planetizen.com and remembered exactly what it was like to visit Europe. My preconceptions about the place turned out to be misconceptions (I had expected even the air to smell old) and I was blinded by the beauty. It may be why I tend to see things through rose-tinted glasses around here - I can only see potential. Allentown is so beautiful! Why does no one else see it?
"As you sit near the Piazzetta in Venice, clarity of mind about the present state of cities or their future may wither. Determined to deny the clarions of sentimentality, you think “What is it precisely about contemporary urbanity that seems so much less satisfying than the urbanity here?” Is it bigness, not of the entire city but of its individual elements? Is it the bifurcation of functions, a lack of overlapping textures and details, the compartmentalization of activities, the intrusions of the automobile? Is it too much newness or the “lack of human scale”?
You snap out of it. You’re in Venice, a city besieged by tourists and short on residents. The local economy is based on visitors’ capital. The air quality is poor. The water smells and looks nasty. The city is sinking. It is sustainable due only to human stubbornness, not any contemporary criteria of environmental sustainability. Ah, but it is so beautiful!"