Often viewed as the tentacles of the evil beast named Suburban Sprawl, the culdesac gets a bad rap, and in some ways perhaps it's justified. After all, aren't gridded neighborhoods better than sprawling modern developments? New Urbanism evangelists seem to think so. In many ways they are right, but playing devil's advocate, I am here to defend my old pal Culdesac just a little bit.
I grew up on a culdesac as a youngster (with fond memories) and ironically now live on one again as an adult in perhaps the most unlogistic mecca to sprawl on earth: Eden Prairie, MN. Ask any civil engineer, town planner or subdivision developer and there arise clinical definitions of what a culdesac is and vehement hatred for them by the aforementioned philosophers for anti-suburbanism and I'll leave all that to them. But take a closer look, spend some time here - days and weeks even - and come to discover what makes them a lot more colorful than some clinical definition and certainly not as evil, or even as useless, as the naysayers suggest. Or maybe there's just something extraordinarily magic about ours.
I still scratch my head in bewilderment some days when driving around this muddled ball of confusion they call The EP, with stop-and-start residential streets, most terminating in nowhere, many of which bearing the same name; and snaking avenues that offer no intelligently conceived or direct linkage to my destination. It makes me wonder some days why I chose this place and moreover why I choose to stay. There are several, more complicated answers to that question but one of the most deceptively simple is a love for my kids, my neighbors, my culdesac. I have only to arrive at my driveway and it feels really good; seeing kids riding bikes, skateboards and pedal cars around and around like crazy, happy little people in some juvenile whirling dervish. All the while in a safe, snug harbor that no gridded street system could pull off in a million years. I smile, re-emerge moments later, shirt untucked and beer in hand, and am perfectly right with the world.