Small Cities

Sarcasm aside, the point I would make about Frieberg in Saxony (pictured below) is that it’s really a kind of place we barely have any of in the United States:

It’s a town with only 42,000 inhabitants, no particularly giant buildings, and not really all that dense in the scheme of things. But it does have a built-up core with narrow streets, four- or five floor buildings, and a general lack of giant parking structures that together make for a pleasant dense walkable community. At the same time it offers this “urban” lifestyle, however, it has a lot of small towny features including being quiet and fairly traditional. I assume a healthy proportion of the population actually lives on the outskirts rather than in this part of town, but they can still drop in for a visit and with things being both small in general and bike- and pedestrian-oriented in the center, there don’t appear to be giant traffic jams or any huge problem driving if you’re making that kind of trip.

Obviously, path dependence is playing a role here. Freiberg involved hundreds of years worth of fixed investment before anyone had a car, so naturally it results in a nice community that’s not car dependent. But I really do think it’s a nice community that has a lot to offer that would appeal to people who don’t necessarily want to live in a “big city.” The closest analogue I can think of in the U.S. is certain college towns (or maybe places rich people go on vacation like Aspen or Bar Harbor) that people generally seem to deem pleasant.