Douwe Osinga's Blog: Big City Mountain View

Monday, February 27, 2006

I'm currently at the Googleplex in Mountain View California. It is interesting to be back at headquarters; it is so big compared to the Zurich office and so packed with very smart people working on all these different projects. Last week I spend a few days at the New York office, which is much smaller (while still bigger than Zurich). But in a strange way it seems New York also seemed smaller than Mountain View.

Not in actual size of course, but New York seem to be build on a much more human scale. When I talk about New York I of course mostly mean lower Manhattan (the apartment we were staying in was at 11th street, the Google office is close to Time Square) and that part of New York is actually smaller than Mountain View (Manhattan is 51.8 km2, Mountain View is 31 or so), but what I mostly mean is that in Manhattan if you want to do something, walking is a good option. I could walk to the office and I would be one of the many people on the sidewalk.

In Mountain View however, anything worth going is always going to be far from anywhere else and most probable won't even be in Mountain View but in the next non-descript Silicon Valley town. And even if it is just two or three blocks, the blocks are huge here and walking is something people don't do. And if they do, there isn't a sidewalk.

I'm of course not much of a car person and this part of California has clearly been developed with the car in mind. In New York most cars that you see are actually cabs and people still rely on public transport to get from one place to another. The result is a metropolis with a human scale (and cramped, expensive apartments) versus the huge, machine scale of small town Mountain View, Ca.


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