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Who Knows What Tomorrow Might Bring

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Somewhat back from the village street
Stands the old-fashioned county seat.
Across its antique portico
Tall poplar trees their shadows throw;
And from its station in the hall
An ancient timepiece says to all
Forever – never
Never – forever

Thus wrote Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in “The Belfry of Bruges and Other Poems.”

This essay is about Time, which is both forever, and never. And it is about what we do with Time to fashion the world we live in.

Considering how long yesterday was and how long tomorrow will be, our todays are a very small slice of time. Yet, what we decide, or choose not to decide, in this small slice of time, will to large measure determine what tomorrow will be: what kind of cities we will have, what kind of towns, how we will grow the food we need, how we will move from place to place. After all, everything, absolutely everything, we see about us by way of plantings and buildings and roads and vehicles, is the end result of decisions made, or not made, in all our yesterdays.

At one time, not so very long ago, Manhattan Island was occupied by a few small settlements of a people who had arrived one day at an unoccupied place via a land bridge at what we now call the Bering Strait. Today, except for one or two exceptions (most spectacular being Central Park) that island is paved and built upon, from north to south, and from river to river It was brought thereto by decisions made, and by decisions that were not made, decisions that were determined to be too unpopular, or politically difficult. …

End of excerpt

Perry NortonThe late Perry Norton, FAICP, was past director of the American Institute of Planners; a Professor at New York University; and a long-time professional planner.

Norton was also one of the pioneers in online planning, and helped develop the first online planners discussion group on CompuServe in the mid-1980s.

He was a valued contributor to the Planning Commissioners Journal. See the left sidebar for links to his articles. For more on Norton.

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