Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Not Tellin'

There is a paragraph's worth of writing in stencils on the south sidewalk of Grand Avenue, starting at Milwaukee/Halsted and continuing west to maybe a little beyond Taylor. But I'm not tellin' what it says. You'll have to go there yourself.

I finished reading The Death and Life of Great American Cities today. In the last chapter is the following sentence (and even though it's not long enough to warrant a <blockquote> I'm using one anyway):

Most sentimental ideas imply, at bottom, a deep if unacknowledged disrespect.

For win and awesome. Obviously this sentence exists in some context, but I'm not tellin' what it is. You'll have to read the book.

And everyone should read this book. Especially if you're American, and especially if you live in a big city. Now much of this book is a critique of particular urban planning theories popular in the early part of the 20th century that have fallen out of favor. So if you read it you might want to get some background on Wikipedia first. Actually you probably don't need much more than that to understand what Jacobs is talking about. Although I might get around to reading some works belonging to the movements she criticizes at some point. At any rate, some of her ideas about cities have given me a new lens through which to look at Chicago.


Danielle in Iowa said...

what if you're american but live in a podunk town? :-) have fun biking to Urbana!

Al Dimond said...

If you live in a podunk town you'll probably still find it an interesting read. But it's not as much fun because you won't get to observe the philosophies mentioned around the town (because big cities, towns, and suburbs behave very differently and are planned very differently).

Some of the theory applies to any civilizations (like "edge cities", which I'm currently reading about), but Jacobs at least believes that much of it applies specifically to big, dense cities.

(btw, am now in Urbana. More on that later.