Saturday, July 5, 2008

Eurosprawl III: Introducing Region Frankfurt

...Frankurt Am Main, not that other Frankfurt in the former DDR.

Frankfurt had a reputation as the most "Americanized" city in Germany even before the skyscraper boom. Now it looks even more American with its cluster of downtown skyscrapers (which are, unlike in US citys, not in the original town center, but a neighborhood just beyond).
In a way Frankfurt had a similar issue as Dayton did, as the metropolitan area was called the Rhine-Main Region (after the two major rivers in the area), akin to The Miami Valley. Apparenlty the label now being pushed is "Region Frankfurt", which sounds like the rebranding of the Miami Valley as the Dayton Region.

The Rhine Main region is similar in some ways to southwest Ohio/Dayton/Cincinnati area as it crosses three state boundaries (Hesse, Bavaria, and Rhinland/Palatinate, sort of a German "Tri-State") and has a number of core cities of varying sizes, the dominant one being Frankfurt.

Unlike the "Tri State"/Miami Valley there are two state capitals here: Wiesbaden and Mainz. And one of the core cities, Aschaffenburg, was rated as one of the best places to live in Germany (the Germans apparently have their own "city list" or Places Rated thing going on).

To start we will look at three suburbs in this metropolitan region, Nordenstadt, Rosbach, and Rodheim.
For the above map, the colored areas show the economic influence of the core cities down to the lowest unit of local government (in Hesse it would be the gemeinde, or commune, usually based around a village or small town, but also can be urban or city government). The next largest unit of government, not shown on this map, is the Kreis, literally translated to circuit, but equivilant to a US county. In Hesse the largest citys are, or where, "Kriesfrei", meaning they are independent of countys (in the US an equivilant situation occurs in Virginia).

Though the Europeans, Germans included, are known for having good public transit, freeways are just as important as in the US for getting around a metropolitan area. Germans use their cars to commute just like we do, with business and industry being disperesed throughout the region in office and industrial parks, as well as in the various center cities (which are, unlike the US, still economically viable places)

Different from a US interstate system, this regional freeway net does not pass through any of the core city centers, but instead provides spur freeways or quasi-freeways to connect into the respective city centers.

And given the high degree of car travel in a fairly dense ubran region, one can anticipate the inevitable traffic jams, which can be as massive as in the US, maybe even more so.
In Hesse there are attempts to do various traffic control and management things, like this freeway cam system (similar to whats available in some US cities, where you can tune in to traffic conditions on cable TV).

The slogan is "Jam-Free Hesse 2015" (they wish). But interesting to note the scale of the freeway system: six lanes in what looks like a semi-rural or suburban area, not too different from I-75 between Cincy and Dayton.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

it was Kurt Vonnegut who said that Dresden reminded him of Dayton.