Saturday, May 31, 2008

The City - past, present, future

NPR's morning edition is starting a new series called Urban Frontier which will focus on cities. h/t to Metropolis Magazine for the tip.
The City Vote: The Next American City has a story compiling the AP election data to see how cities voted in the primary. update: this data may be described as for cities, but its actually the voting results for metro areas fyi.

Just for fun: h/t to Digital Urban for pointing out this grad student produced video representing life in the city.

which really is amazing when you contrast that with how people thought of the city in the past. It may seem like a long time ago, but a lot of our urban form was set in place by ideas and policies from the pre-WWII period if not earlier. As I like to point out, the most telling evidence of this is this Lewis Mumford narrated film entitled "The City" from 1939. Anyone at all interested in urban anything urban (history, politics, sociciology, economics) needs to watch this: The City (American Institute of Planners, 1939, available as an MPEG stream via the Prelinger Archives). It is complete with an original score by Aaron Copeland if you can believe that... After first watching it I had to go rewatch the opening credits to make sure Frank Capra didnt direct it as well. He didn't but it sure seems like he did. Basically it idealizes the suburbs as utopian places to live and proselytizes massive city re-engineering with a lot of images of pre-war Pittsburgh as the ultimate scourge to be either prevented or beaten back. If you don't take time to watch, the title text pretty much says it all:

"Year by year our cities grow ever more complex and less fit for living. The age of rebuilding is here. The time to remould our old cities and build communities better suited to our needs."

All that is missing is the slow fading text scroll into a background of stars followed by blaster fire. For those who do get through the first part. Here is the link for Part 2.


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