“Not as much as we’d like,” said Stadard, the former mayor of Hamburg. “But it is something that needs to be done.”
The city of Hamburg has been trying to build an electric-powered sewage treatment plant—in the city’s old industrial area—but those efforts are ongoing, with no new funding at present.
And if we’re talking about the city itself, Stadard told me, “Hamburg already is one of the best cities in Europe, and if you ask the young people how they want to live down the street from them, a very high percentage will say Hamburg.”
Hamburg is an urban sprawl on wheels—and, with all that green space behind it, a model for green urbanism. It’s a world-class university town, and Hamburg, with its high taxes and its excellent schools, is now an American “green city” that is well known in terms of climate change action.
Now a city of about 300,000 people, Hamburg is now seeing its share of newcomers and people leaving for greener places in the country, such as Berlin, which has already embraced the concept of green city.
A similar trend is growing in Berlin. A couple of years ago I traveled to German capital, just outside of London, to tour the new “Berlin Green Belt” in Berlin’s old railway station, where there’s a great new bike parking lot, a massive green roof, and a lot of green space around it—a few blocks of residential blocks, which are zoned for housing but are not commercial real estate, are being used as green space in the form of green roofs. There is no such thing in London, and the streets are much more commercialized.
One of the things that makes urban development such an interesting experiment is that you can move in a very new neighborhood, even a lot of miles away in time and space, and it’s all still going to look familiar to you. And that creates a very interesting dynamic for a developer.
You can make all the changes you want and still make it look and feel new. And for that to happen, a lot of money must be spent on advertising and branding—in building the buildings to have the look of new.
That’s all well and good, and some of it has happened, but there is one more aspect of creating green spaces in cities that will make more of an impact in the years to