Metropolis: Readings

Metropolis: Readings

Postby theCryptofishist » Sun Oct 11, 2009 9:20 pm

I know Larry has picked out The Life and Death of American Cities, or whatever it's called, but I wonder what we have been reading that connects to the theme, for us at least.
It was interesting reading about Pompeii--which is pretty much a coincidence, as I picked up off the New Shelf at the library. At the remainder table yesterday I got The City: A Global History, by Joel Kotkin. If nothing else I have to admire the way he can dismiss an empire of centuries in a paragraph. I guess he has to, there's less than 200 pages. His thesis is something about cities having to fullfill three functions to stay vital: Sacred Space, Safety and Busy (which seems to be the same as lively mercantilism.) But when you're rushing through the fertile crescent, you don't have time to talk about grander things, apparently.
I'm also remembering The Alienist by Caleb Carr. The way he set the action in New York of the 1890s just amazed me. In some way, I couldn't believe that reservoir at the end was torn down decades before Carr was born.

Any favorite books about cities you'd like to share?
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"The powerful are exploiting people, art and ideas, and this leads to us plebes debating how to best ration ice.
Man, no wonder they always win....." Lonesomebri


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Postby Captain Goddammit » Mon Oct 12, 2009 5:39 am

Debbie Does Dallas. The movie was good... maybe you can still get the paperback...
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Postby H.G.Crosby » Mon Oct 12, 2009 9:12 am

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Postby theCryptofishist » Mon Oct 12, 2009 12:18 pm

Haymarket, huh. Probably there's a whole lot of rich ore to be mined there.
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"The powerful are exploiting people, art and ideas, and this leads to us plebes debating how to best ration ice.
Man, no wonder they always win....." Lonesomebri


Get a Taint, you pathetic cur!
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Postby Oldguy » Mon Oct 12, 2009 1:33 pm

Haymarket Street, Fayetteville, North Carolina, Near Ft. Bragg Army base, early seventies, 3 blocks of strip clubs ,bars, and swinging disco clubs. Combat Alley behind club's backdoors, acid, mj, pills, hookers...Good times, I was an MP working the strip.

An entirely different urban life...
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Postby Kinetik V » Mon Oct 12, 2009 2:27 pm

The City of To-morrow and Its Planning
by Le Corbusier
(You can find this one on Amazon)

Le Corbusier is the man responsible for the design of modern Paris and is a very quirky individual. He had a tendency to design revamped city layouts for almost every major city he visited in his lifetime, among other things.

Also any good read on city design and layout should include a look at L' Enfant's grand plan for Washington, DC. Here's a quick source to get one started in that direction.

http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/wash/lenfant.htm

These are some of the "superstars" of planning but the list of people to research and books to consider is almost too vast to list here.

Since I've got a soapbox going on, a city without parks is a soulless place to be. No student of city design would be wise to omit a quick look at one of the American masters of parks design, George Kessler. I first became of aware of Kessler's work when researching the extensive parks system of my hometown, Kansas City. A great springboard for Kessler research is the website for the Society that still honors him today:

http://www.georgekessler.org/

I hope these links are helpful and good luck with your research.
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Postby theCryptofishist » Mon Oct 12, 2009 8:07 pm

For parks you could also focus on Fredrick Law Olmstead. If he didn't write anything there have to be biographies.

Boy, Le Corbusier...That whole vision of cities being sort of imposed on the population rather than being built by them. Okay, I took art appreciation decades ago, so I can't remember all of what those modernists did that so annoyed me, but a lot of those large buildings were failures. I have an odd affection for the Bauhaus (that's where I picked up my habit of not capitilizing a lot of nouns and certain adjectives) there was a whole lot of 20th century architecture that just bugs me.
What was the name of hte baron who redid paris in the 1800s?
The Lady with a Lamprey

"The powerful are exploiting people, art and ideas, and this leads to us plebes debating how to best ration ice.
Man, no wonder they always win....." Lonesomebri


Get a Taint, you pathetic cur!
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Postby theCryptofishist » Thu Oct 15, 2009 10:15 am

[urlhttp://www.amazon.com/Devil-White-City-Madness-Changed/dp/0375725601/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1255626221&sr=8-1]This is an interesting book. The late 1800s was a different time. (Today at Obvious Enterprizes, Captain Obvious offers up a new line of platitudes. No surprizes here, folks...)[/url]
And while we are talking about Chicago
Chicago

Hog Butcher of the World
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight
Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders:

They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I
have seen your painted women under the gas lamps
luring the farm boys.
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it
is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to
kill again.
And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the
faces of women and children I have seen the marks of
wanton hunger.
And having answered so I turn once more to those who
sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer
and say to them:
Come and show me another city with lifted head singing
so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cun-
ning.
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on
job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the
little soft cities;
Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning
as a savage pitted against the wilderness,
Bareheaded,
Shoveling,
Wrecking,
Planning,
Building, breaking, rebuilding,
Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with
white teeth,
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young
man laughs,
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has
never lost a battle,
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse,
and under his ribs the heart of the people,
Laughing!
Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of
Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be the Hog
Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with
Railroads and Freight Handler of the Nation.


I don't go for poetry much, but this is so large and grand and I can actually understand what he's lauding here.
The Lady with a Lamprey

"The powerful are exploiting people, art and ideas, and this leads to us plebes debating how to best ration ice.
Man, no wonder they always win....." Lonesomebri


Get a Taint, you pathetic cur!
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Postby C.f.M. » Thu Oct 15, 2009 10:31 am

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Postby littleflower » Thu Oct 15, 2009 5:38 pm

theCryptofishist wrote:What was the name of hte baron who redid paris in the 1800s?


Baron Haussmann
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baron_Haussmann

an interesting description of life during the renovation is L'Assommoir, by Emile Zola. i love paris with its big boulevards and scenic layout, but i also love rome with its tiny streets and ancient ruins in the middle of the city. very interesting subject ...
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Postby penguin » Sat Oct 17, 2009 5:36 pm

Reading this thread got me to thinking... BRC reminds "me" a whole lot of Venice, Italy (though I'm sure it reminds other people strongly of other cities). If you added some water and a whole bunch of pigeons to center camp I'd call it Venice of the desert :lol: Although I missed Carnival in Venice by about 2 weeks I can now imagine what it might be like having been in BRC on Saturday night!

L'Enfant is a better source for planning or course, but Washington, DC wasn't designed for automobiles (like any city designed more than 100 or so years ago), they had to find away to make it work when they came along -- Venice on the other hand just ignored them...

I think it would be interesting to see what would happen to BRC if BMORG just installed center camp and some porta-potties and did nothing else (no roads, no reserved spaces, etc) and just let the city grow up on its own accord.
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Postby erbal » Mon Oct 19, 2009 6:10 am

Might be worth reading some of Paolo Soleri's work ... IMO he has some really interesting ideas on cities and how they should work.
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Postby Simon of the Playa » Mon Oct 19, 2009 8:05 am

my cousin works at arcosante.

it's hippy slave labor, and Paolo is one very very Dirty Old man...




sounds like my kinda place.
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Postby H.G.Crosby » Mon Oct 19, 2009 9:11 am

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Postby Kinetik V » Mon Oct 19, 2009 11:29 am

Simon of the Playa wrote:my cousin works at arcosante.

it's hippy slave labor, and Paolo is one very very Dirty Old man...


sounds like my kinda place.


Glad someone touched on Arcosanti which brings "arcologies" into the discussion. (cough, choke, gag, spit, cough). Except to say that I'm very biased on the subject, I'm not going there, period.
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Postby oscillator » Tue Oct 20, 2009 8:55 am

Was gong to recommend "The Situationist City" by Simon Sadler, but BRC is already fully realized, Situation-wise.

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Postby Ugly Dougly » Tue Oct 20, 2009 9:30 am

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Postby ZSUZSU » Tue Oct 20, 2009 12:56 pm

Je ne comprends pas tout mais suffisamment pour trouver le débat très intéressant. Personnellement, je trouve que le thème de la ville, de ce quelle sera dans les années à venir est passionnant.
L'espoir fait vivre !
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Postby Deb Prothero » Wed Oct 21, 2009 4:43 am

Jane Jacobs was mentioned by Larry. Here's the list of her works:

The Death and Life of Great American Cities
The Economy of Cities
Cities and the Wealth of Nations
The Question of Separatism: Quebec and the Struggle over Sovereignty-Association
Systems of Survival
The Nature of Economies
Dark Age Ahead

Dark Age Ahead is my favourite. I interviewed her shortly after its publication.

Larry also mentioned James Howard Kunstler who wrote:

The Geography of Nowhere
Home from Nowhere, The City in Mind
The Long Emergency
and World Made by Hand is a recent science fiction novel

In an interview Larry also mentioned Richard Florida.

The Rise of the Creative Class
Cities and the Creative Class
The Flight of the Creative Class.
A new book, focusing on the issues surrounding urban renewal and talent migration, titled Who's Your City?, was recently published.
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Postby theCryptofishist » Wed Oct 21, 2009 9:15 am

Pat Murphy: The City not Long After.
Not only a nice piece of fiction set in a city that reminds me of BRC in ways, but also coming out of San Francisco at about the same time burningman began.
The Lady with a Lamprey

"The powerful are exploiting people, art and ideas, and this leads to us plebes debating how to best ration ice.
Man, no wonder they always win....." Lonesomebri


Get a Taint, you pathetic cur!
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Postby Ugly Dougly » Wed Oct 21, 2009 9:59 am

“My God! I’m thinking, what incredible shit we put up with most of our lives-the domestic routine (same old wife every night), the stupid and useless and degrading jobs, the insufferable arrogance of elected officials, the crafty cheating and the slimy advertising of the businessmen, the tedious wars in which we kill our buddies instead of our real enemies back home in the capital, the foul, diseased, and hideous cities and towns we live in, the constant petty tyranny of automatic washers and automobiles and TV machines and telephones—! Ah Christ!, I’m thinking… what intolerable garbage and what utterly useless crap we bury ourselves in day by day, while patiently enduring at the same time the creeping strangulation of the clean white collar and the rich but modest four-in-hand garrote!â€
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Postby Oso » Sat Oct 24, 2009 12:55 am

And you may ask yourself
Where is that large automobile?
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful house!
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful wife!

Letting the days go by/let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by/water flowing underground
Into the blue again/after the moneys gone
Once in a lifetime/water flowing underground.

Same as it ever was...same as it ever was...same as it ever was...
Same as it ever was...same as it ever was...same as it ever was...
Same as it ever was...same as it ever was...
-Talking Heads
.
.
Home is not where you live but where they understand you.
.
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Ask the urban planner what to read...

Postby ms_behavin » Thu Nov 26, 2009 12:40 am

I am so excited about the theme! All I do is sit around all day reading about the world's metropolises. I'm working on a PhD in planning at Cal. Here's some picks.

[b]Entertaining:[/b]

Devil in the White City, Erik Larson
A murder mystery novel set in Chicago during the 1886(?) world's fair, this book is an awesome urban history of Chicago and a page-turner about a ladykiller (pun intended). Much hero worship for Daniel Burnham and his master plan for Chicago.

The Geography of Nowhere, James Howard Kunstler
A classic critique of suburbia by a curmudgeon with a razor wit. In his words, "the tragic sprawlscape of cartoon architecture, junked cities, and ravaged countryside where we live and work," it's a wake up call to revive community and cities.

[b]These were already mentioned, they are great: [/b]

The Rise of the Creative Class, Richard Florida
All about why San Francisco is the model for all cities that want to compete in the Information Age, because of the high level of tolerance for diverse lifestyles. He even has a 'gay index' which is a key factor in attracting creative professionals. Very hip, very now.

Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities
An economist and urban critic, she cast a loving eye on cities in decline in the 1970s and led a successful fight against Robert Moses, the guy who brutally shoved freeways through New York neighborhoods and designed San Francisco's Embarcadero Freeway.

[b]Future Distopia:[/b]

The World Without Us, Alan Weisman
It would only take two days to lose the NYC subway to flooding, and garden vegetables would revert to wild strains in only 20 years. But feral cats will take over the world.

[b]Historical Utopias:[/b]

The Story of Utopias, Lewis Mumford
"Forget the damned motor car and build the cities for lovers and friends," said Mumford, an urban critic and fan of technology throughout the 20th century. His first book traces the history of utopian visions, but his most famous work is called The City in History.

Plan of Chicago, Daniel Burnham
"Make no small plans, for they lack the power to stir men's souls," Burnham is famous for saying. He master-minded modern Chicago, and created a grand plan for San Francisco that never got built. The Plan has amazing illustrations.

[b]Finally, a couple of good anthologies:[/b]

Cities of Tomorrow, Peter Hall
Written by one of our own at Berkeley, this is a well-written historical romp through the various notions of what the city of the future should be in the 20th century, from Garden Cities to Entertainment Cities.

The City Reader, Richard LeGates and Frederic Stout
An anthology of just the good parts from seminal works by leading architects and planners from around the world. They managed to include 50 selections on various aspects of city evolution, design, and culture in a not-too-big book.

This was fun!!
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Postby theCryptofishist » Thu Nov 26, 2009 10:44 am

For more fun, check the box that turns BBCode on on your profile.
The Lady with a Lamprey

"The powerful are exploiting people, art and ideas, and this leads to us plebes debating how to best ration ice.
Man, no wonder they always win....." Lonesomebri


Get a Taint, you pathetic cur!
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Postby zachass » Thu Nov 26, 2009 12:15 pm

http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/james_howard_kunstler_dissects_suburbia.html

Not a reading, but a short presentation on the decline of the pleasantly strolled street.
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Postby Janet Planet » Wed Jan 13, 2010 11:02 am

Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities. Which is in some way, maybe every way, about Venice, Penguin. It's the first book I thought of when I learned the theme is Metropolis. Black Rock City is the most fantastic of the Invisible Cities.
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Postby theCryptofishist » Mon Feb 01, 2010 7:34 pm

The Lady with a Lamprey

"The powerful are exploiting people, art and ideas, and this leads to us plebes debating how to best ration ice.
Man, no wonder they always win....." Lonesomebri


Get a Taint, you pathetic cur!
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Postby oscillator » Mon Feb 08, 2010 3:31 pm

Been reading David Byrne's 'Bicycle Diaries'.

An easy read about Mr. Byrne's observations on various cities' life cycles, mostly from the vantage point of the bike rides taken while on tour.

\\osc

Oh, just discovered: The Endless City (Phaidon) - looks interesting.

http://www.phaidon.com/store/general-no ... 714848204/
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Postby Ugly Dougly » Mon Feb 08, 2010 3:35 pm

Water, water, water…. There is no shortage of water in the desert but exactly the right amount, a perfect ratio of water to rock, of water to sand, insuring that wide, free, open, generous spacing among plants and animals, homes and towns and cities, which makes the arid West so different from any other part of the nation. There is no lack of water here, unless you try to establish a city where no city should be.
Edward Abbey
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Postby Ugly Dougly » Mon Feb 08, 2010 3:36 pm

My God! I’m thinking, what incredible shit we put up with most of our lives-the domestic routine (same old wife every night), the stupid and useless and degrading jobs, the insufferable arrogance of elected officials, the crafty cheating and the slimy advertising of the businessmen, the tedious wars in which we kill our buddies instead of our real enemies back home in the capital, the foul, diseased, and hideous cities and towns we live in, the constant petty tyranny of automatic washers and automobiles and TV machines and telephones—! Ah Christ!, I’m thinking… what intolerable garbage and what utterly useless crap we bury ourselves in day by day, while patiently enduring at the same time the creeping strangulation of the clean white collar and the rich but modest four-in-hand garrote!
-Ibid
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