Seaside: The birthplace of New Urbanism (Photos)

Published: Thursday, July 24, 2014 at 11:08 AM.

The first place studied was Grayton Beach , which was his base during the process.

He then took to the road, driving and stopping in beach towns up and down the coast of Florida , Georgia , Louisiana , North Carolina , and South Carolina before taking in Europe 's small coastal towns, sketching, photographing, and measuring all the while until he understood what made the towns work.

This research was a project he immersed himself in from 1976 until the founding of Seaside in 1981.

Davis found that the typical home in small beach towns had one big room in the center with high ceilings that allowed heat to rise. They typically had a gable or hip roof with a cupola in the center.

Every house in traditional towns had large wrap-around porches that were particularly useful in creating a friendly facade to the street, and in creating an outdoor living room. Most had a picket fence and all were different.

Davis found that beach towns don't need sidewalks, as you park and walk — usually down the middle of the small street.

He found that 18 feet was a good width for a street, just wide enough for two cars to pass, which would also tend to slow cars down. By making streets narrower instead of expansive Davis was modeling his idea of encouraging people to park their cars and reconnect.

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