The original community space was the town green or piazza. Residents did business nearby, lived within walking distance if they didn’t live on a farm and came to the center of town to shop, socialize and get news.
Some of these spaces grew up into dense, urban environments and some remained small, with just a sprinkle of commercial areas. These areas were transformed, not with the advent of the car, but with government policies that encouraged an exodus from cities, land development codes that separate commercial and residential uses and funded infrastructure from cities to suburbs. Beginning in the middle part of the last century, inner cities and dense neighborhoods were neglected, abandoned or, worse, completely razed to make way for highways.
Slowly, more recently, the values that urban environments embodied were recognized and grew in importance. Enjoyment and appreciation of the outdoors prompted an interest in walkable neighborhoods. Those areas feature mixed uses and the value of community space was rediscovered. Cities changed their regulations to allow live/work spaces, remove parking lots and encourage adaptive reuse of former commercial and industrial uses.