I always thought that the American destruction of the cities in lieu of building sprawl was stupid, but then I realized that there really was one good reason for doing it that way. The suburbs were built in the cold war, and suburbs are much harder to nuke.
Luckily, suburbs are widely being shown to be a failure. You mention checking out the pretty girls by the fountain, how about having any incidental contact with anyone ever? Suburbs are a nightmare of tinted windshields and road rage, hour long commutes and no pride of place.
In the misguided attempt at "safety" we have given away our humanity. Now there's a nice eulogy for America.
Top Ten Things Overheard At The ANSI C Draft Committee Meetings: (7) Well, it's an excellent idea, but it would make the compilers too hard to write.