Friday, December 28, 2007

Reissue: What Makes a City?

Images of various historical monuments, signature buildings, great urban spaces or other famous sights are often associated with the idea of a city. But they merely describe the form of the city, not its substance.

Cities are not just the buildings. Remarkably, a city can still survive when its buildings have been gutted. Hiroshima lived though the Bomb. Throughout history, cities have been devastated by natural or human disasters, but they often get rebuilt, when its people chose to do so.

There are places though, complete with buildings and roads, but which are devoid of people. But these are not cities; deserted by their erstwhile inhabitants, they are just ghost-towns.

The most vibrant towns are sometimes over-crowded, squalid and ugly, but despite these disadvantages, they continue to be magnets - drawing people to them.

At about 600 BC, Alcaeus wrote of the cities of Greece:

"Not houses finely roofed nor the stones of walls well built nor canals nor dockyards make the city, but men able to use their opportunity."

Previous Posts:

Hiroshima 6th August, 1945

Rising from the Ashes

Ghost Towns

Slums of Hope


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