“On any person who desires such queer prizes, New York will bestow the gift of loneliness and the gift of privacy,” wrote EB White in his 1949 essay, Here Is New York. White sizes up both the positive and negative potential of the teeming Manhattan with the familiarity of a native and the heightened awareness of a visitor. A longtime contributor to the New Yorker magazine, White also wrote the classic children’s book Charlotte’s Web and co-wrote the influential writing guide The Elements of Style. In Here Is New York, he takes that versatility further, giving us a new way of seeing the city in an early example of what we might today call city criticism. Given how long we’ve relied on the work of critics on film, music, food, and much else besides, as well as the ever-increasing relevance of cities in our lives, it’s time we recognised city criticism as its own distinct category of writing. But what is city criticism — or rather, what … [Read more...] about ‘A way of learning from everything’: the rise of the city critic
Urban revitalization remaking cities in a changing world pdf
I first met Jane Jacobs in the early 90s. She was sitting in the front row of a large Toronto auditorium as I delivered a one-hour lecture. I did not know who she was. When I was done, the first hand up – sharply so – belonged to this elderly person. How wonderful, I thought, a citizen who has never stopped being engaged. What came out of her mouth, though, was one of the sharpest critiques of my way of analysing the city that I’d ever heard – and probably ever will. She pursued a line of questioning quite different from what I usually get. She continously returned to the issue of “place”, and its importance when considering the implementation of urban policies – notably the loss of neighbourhoods and erasure of local residents’ experiences. Her input made me shift my thinking to more “micro” levels; I am still doing quite a bit of work today on the need to relocalise pieces of national and city economies. So perhaps now, on … [Read more...] about How Jane Jacobs changed the way we look at cities
She has barely ever been in a car, and never eaten meat or flown. Now 31, she lives on the 15th floor of a city centre tower from where she can just see the ocean 500 yards away on one side and the suburbs and informal settlements sprawling as far as the eye can see on the other. Life is OK in this megacity. She earns the exact median income and is as green as she feels she can be: she has no children yet, her carbon footprint is negligible, and her apartment, built in the early 2000s, has been retrofitted for climate change with deep insulation, its own solar air-con and heating systems. It has a “living” wall of plants and a balcony where she grows a few vegetables. Waste is automatically sorted or composted. Outside it may be roasting, with temperatures often higher than 40C. Inside, she’s cool. She loves where she lives, even though the water tastes slightly salty sometimes and there are often electricity outages in the summer months because of the frequent … [Read more...] about The climate crisis in 2050: what happens if cities act but nations don’t?
“Now I know subjective opinions can vary,” the journalist Adam Raphael wrote in the Guardian in 1968, “but personally I reckon LA as the noisiest, the smelliest, the most uncomfortable and most uncivilised major city in the United States. In short, a stinking sewer ...” Three years later, Raphael’s words appeared in print again as an epigraph of Reyner Banham’s Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies – the most exuberantly pro-Los Angeles book ever written. Ever since publication, it has shown up on lists of great books about modern cities – even those drawn up by people who consider Los Angeles anything but a great American city. Somehow, this book that drew so much of its initial publicity with shock value (“In Praise (!) of Los Angeles”, sneered the New York Times review’s headline) has kept its relevance through the decades, such that newly arrived Angelenos still read it to orient themselves. But what can it … [Read more...] about A ‘radical alternative’: how one man changed the perception of Los Angeles
If you live in Glasgow, you are more likely to die young. Men die a full seven years earlier than their counterparts in other UK cities. Until recently, the causes of this excess mortality remained a mystery. “Deep-fried Mars bars,” some have speculated. “The weather,” others suggested. For years, those reasons were as good as any. In 2012, the Economist described it thus: “It is as if a malign vapour rises from the Clyde at night and settles in the lungs of sleeping Glaswegians.” The phenomenon has become known as the Glasgow effect. But David Walsh, a public health programme manager at the Glasgow Centre for Population Health, who led a study on the excess deaths in 2010, wasn’t satisfied with how the term was being used. “It turned into a Scooby-Doo mystery but it’s not an exciting thing,” he says. “It’s about people dying young, it’s about grief.” He wanted to work out why Glaswegians have a 30% … [Read more...] about Urban living makes us miserable – this city is trying to change that