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Posts Tagged ‘urbanization

“By its nature, the metropolis provides what otherwise could be given only by traveling; namely, the strange”*…

 

How did cities emerge? Where were they located? How did they change over the course of human civilization? How did they change their surroundings?

The answers to these questions are available, but hard to access. The United Nations World Urbanization Prospects, for example, only tracks urban populations and their locations from 1950 on, and so offers only a small, relatively recent snapshot of urbanization. The work of the historian Tertius Chandler and the political scientist George Modelski is much more extensive. The two painstakingly gathered population and archeological records from as far back as 2250 B.C. The problem, however, is that their data exist in the form of tables that are stuffed with hard-to-decipher numbers and notes.

new paper published in Scientific Data takes a stab at mapping the information Chandler and Modelski gathered. Yale University researcher Meredith Reba and her colleagues digitized, transcribed, and geocoded over 6,000 years of urban data…

More at “Mapping 6,000 Years of Urban Settlements.”

* Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities

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As we take it downtown, we might recall that it was on this date in 455 CE that the Vandals completed their sack of Rome.  Three years earlier, the Vandal king Genseric and the Roman Emperor Valentinian III, had betrothed their children, Huneric and Eudocia, to strengthen their then-new peace treaty, but had delayed the wedding, as Eudocia was only 5 at the time. But on the 16th of March in 455, Valentinian was assassinated, and Petronius Maximus rose to the throne.  Petronius, more concerned to consolidate power than to observe the decencies, married Valentinian’s widow, Licinia Eudoxia, and had his son Palladius marry Eudocia. Genseric was not amused; he sailed immediately with his army to Rome.  The Vandals knocked down the city’s aqueducts on their way to the gates– which were opened to the invaders after Genseric agreed to Pope Leo I‘s request that he not raze the city nor murder it’s inhabits wholesale.  The Vandals satisfied themselves with treasure and with a group of “hostages” including Eudocia and her mother.  Petronius Maximus and Palladius had killed by an angry Roman mob before Genseric arrived.

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Written by LW

June 16, 2016 at 1:01 am

“What I like about cities is that everything is king size, the beauty and the ugliness”*…

 

… an observation that gets truer with time.  Whether built from scratch…

Dubai, UAE, 1990-2013

or rebuilt…

Tokyo, Japan, after WWII in 1945 and 2013

in the developing world…

China’s high-tech hub, Shenzen, 1980-2011

or the developed…

Paris, France, 1900-2012

… cities just keep on changing, as global commerce spurs development worldwide and millions move from rural to urban lives.

More “then and now” photos of other cities at “Before and After.”

* Joesph Brodsky

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As we admit that it’s tough to keep ’em down on the farm, we might send empathetic birthday greetings to Louis “Studs” Terkel; he was born on this date in 1912.  Trained as an attorney at the University of Chicago, but graduating into the Depression, he decided instead to be a hotel concierge– a post he soon deserted for the stage.  In one of his first gig as an actor, he had a cast-mate also named Louis, and was asked to pick a nickname; he chose the moniker of his favorite fictional character– Studs Lonigan, of James T. Farrell’s trilogy.  

In 1934, Terkel began to do radio production for the Federal Writer’s Project, which led to his own program, which daily aired on WFMT in Chicago for 45 years.  Over the years he interviewed  Martin Luther KingLeonard BernsteinBob Dylan, Dorothy ParkerTennessee Williams, and Jean Shepherd, among many, many others.

But Terkel is perhaps better known– certainly beyond the reach of Chicago radio– for his writing, largely oral histories of common Americans– e.g.,  Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great DepressionWorking, in which (as suggested by its subtitle) “People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do,” and The Good War”: An Oral History of World War Two, which won the Pulitzer Prize.

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Written by LW

May 16, 2014 at 1:01 am

How ya gonna keep em down on the farm?…

This simple interactive animation by Periscopic, in partnership with UNICEF, illustrates the changes in urban population from 1950 up to present, through projections for 2050. Circle size represents urban population and color is an indicator for the percentage of people living in cities or towns.

[via Flowing Data]

As we contemplate concentration, we might celebrate International Women’s Day.

Poster for Women's Day, March 8, 1914

 source

Written by LW

March 8, 2012 at 1:01 am

How ya gonna keep ’em down on the farm?…

 

A city is the pulsating product of the human hand and mind, reflecting man’s history, his struggle for freedom, creativity, genius-and his selfishness and errors.
Charles Abrams

Beijing-based photographer Jasper James travelled Asia to create his series “City Silhouettes,” an entrancing examination of urbanization (literally) through the eyes of the individual…

[TotH to Feature Shoot]

 

As we re-read Jane Jacobs, we might recall that it was on this date in 1899 that the rubber heel was patented by Humphrey O’Sullivan.  O’Sullivan, a printer, began by nailing a piece of rubber floor mat to his own shoes; after developing the product and patenting it, he launched a company to market his podiatric progress– in a way aimed at pedestrians pounding the pavement in America’s growing cities.

source

 

Written by LW

January 24, 2012 at 1:01 am

Being dense…

The nifty site PerSquareMile.com points out that, if the entire world’s population lived in a single city with the density of New York, it would fit into the state of Texas.  But if that “city” had the density of Houston, it would cover the entire Mid West (and then some)…

to enlarge, click the image above– or here— and again

[TotH to Flowing Data]

As we reconcile ourselves to looking even harder for parking, we might recall that it was on this date in 30 BCE that Mark Antony won a small victory over the invading forces of Octavian (AKA, Octavius– the future Augustus) in the Battle of Alexandria during the Final War of the Roman Republic.  But Antony suffered significant desertion from his ranks; when Octavian attacked again the following day, Antony’s navy demurred.  Antony committed suicide (followed several days later by his consort, Cleopatra)… and with Antony, the Republic died a final death: with his Triumverate partner dead, Octavian ( known as Augustus after 27 BC ) became uncontested ruler of Rome, accumulating all of Rome’s administrative, political, and military authority. When Augustus died in 14 AD, his political powers passed to his adopted son Tiberius; the Roman Principate had begun.

His legs bestrid the ocean: his rear’d arm
Crested the world: his voice was propertied
As all the tuned spheres, and that to friends;
But when he meant to quail and shake the orb,
He was as rattling thunder. For his bounty,
There was no winter in’t; an autumn ’twas
That grew the more by reaping: his delights
Were dolphin-like; they show’d his back above
The element they lived in: in his livery
Walk’d crowns and crownets; realms and islands were
As plates dropp’d from his pocket.

Cleopatra
Antony and Cleopatra, Act 5, Scene 2; William Shakespeare

Mark Antony (source)

Show me the money…

Throughout history, artists have tended to cluster around centers of power and wealth… which is simply to observe that they’ve honored Willie Sutton’s wisdom: “that’s where the money is”; they’ve set up their easels (or pianos or footlights or whatever) where they can find patrons and customers.  But those centers of cultural gravity tend to be expensive places to live– increasingly, so expensive that aspiring artists can’t even afford a garret in which to starve.  E.g., aspiring artists who want to join the community that migrated from Greenwich Village to Soho to Tribeca, then to Brooklyn, and on to Hoboken are beginning to find even that Jersey shore too pricey…

At the same time, new centers of wealth and power are emerging around the world, and with them, new communities of artists and performers.  Indeed, as Richard Florida and others suggest, there’s a symbiotic relationship between the growth of a “Creative Class” in a community and that community’s ability to innovate and succeed commercially.  A rich artistic and cultural life doesn’t assure a city’s commercial success, but its absence is a pretty good indicator of commercial mediocrity (or worse).

So one indicator of areas that are contenders to be “the next hot region” is the sprouting of the arts there.    Consider, for example…

Brazil’s most creative neighborhood is far from the beaches of Rio, in loud and brash São Paulo, South America’s answer for New York City. And you can expect one thing from this loud, raw urban metropolis — a lot of really colorful, politically-charged street art. Large neon pieces of work show up everywhere from dilapidated buildings to enormous billboards, and in the ultimate nod to creativity, esteemed museum MuBE, the Brazilian Museum of Sculpture, hosted actual gallery space for some of São Paulo’s most well-known graffiti artists to promote their work. Unlike certain places, this is a city that fosters young talent.

If digital is your medium, you won’t find a better place to be right now than Jakarta. Indonesia has more Facebook users than Canada has people, and internet cafes are a daily visit. Investors from the West have their eye on mobile, broadcasting and start-ups, all growing trends across the country that make it easy for youngsters to take to their own businesses. Creative collectives like Askara, a bookstore where the hip commune, Serrum, a community for arts education, and Kampong Segart, a student art union, give the space and inspiration for this new wave of Indonesian trend makers.

Visit six other candidate cities– including two, Macao and Las Vegas, that are better known for shilling than selling– at Flavorwire’s “The Best Cities for Young Artists.”

As we get in touch with our inner expatriate, we might wish an elegantly-laid out and well-groomed Happy Birthday to Frederick Law Olmsted; he was born on this date in 1822.  A journalist, social critic, public administrator, Olmsted is best remembered as the greatest American landscape architect of the 19th century.  While the title “Father of American Landscape Architecture” probably belongs to Andrew Jackson Downing, Olmsted was unquestionably the primary agent of the discipline’s growth and adoption.   Olmsted’s most famous commission was Central Park in New York; but he also designed city parks in St. Louis, Boston, and many other cities; the grounds around the Capitol in Washington, D.C.; the Niagra Reservation, one the countries first planned communities; the master plans for universities including UC-Berkley and Stanford (among other universities); and private estates like George Vanderbilt’s Biltmore House in Asheville.

Olmsted at Biltmore House, by frequent house-guest John Singer Sargent (source)

How ya gonna keep ’em down on the farm?…

As the U.N. affirms, 3.5 billion people on earth– over half the world’s population– live in cities, and urbanization is growing.  So it’s not surprising that there are, as io9 reports,  some pretty strange pockets among the sprawl around the globe…

There are the novel, for instance…

Thames Town

This quaint English village, housing 10,000 people, is just 20 miles outside the center of Shanghai, and a new rail system puts it just 15 minutes from downtown, as part of a rapidly expanding Greater Shanghai. Thames Town was designed to look exactly like a bucolic English town, complete with red brick buildings, a sandstone church, a village green, a market square, and a pub. But it’s not a theme park – developers insist it’s a real residential community. As the Independent wrote:

Residents can sip their bitter in a traditional English pub, “The Thames Town”, as children scamper across the medieval market square to a bilingual school, while red-brick warehouses form a commercial area on the waterfront. Developers are targeting British companies such as Tesco and Sainsbury to add to the authentic high-street feel so the town’s…10,000 residents can shop in true British style. There are sporting facilities and everything a town of its size should have.

Watch a Youtube video of the place here.

And there are the horrifying…

Centralia, PA

In 1962, sanitation workers in this town began setting fire to some garbage, near a disused mine opening. The fire spread to a rich underground seam of coal, igniting a blaze that has been going for decades and could continue for up to 250 years according to some experts. The fire expanded and mutated like an amoeba. At first it was nice — the town’s residents no longer had to shovel snow off their sidewalks and tomatoes grew in the middle of winter. But then trees started dying and after a child nearly fell down a sinkhole full of carbon monoxide in 1981, the town was evacuated. Now, only a few stubborn residents remain despite efforts to evacuate them. (And rumor has it this town was the inspiration for the video game Silent Hill.)

More?  Explore the “10 Weirdest Urban Ecosystems on Earth.”

As we remember that it’s “location, location, location,” we might recall that it was on this date in 1889, at noon, that The Land Run of 1889 began in what we now know as the State of Oklahoma.  Within hours, both Oklahoma City and Guthrie were populated, each with over 10,000 residents.  As William Willard Howard reported later that year in Harper’s Weekly:

Unlike Rome, the city of Guthrie was built in a day. To be strictly accurate in the matter, it might be said that it was built in an afternoon. At twelve o’clock on Monday, April 22d [sic], the resident population of Guthrie was nothing; before sundown it was at least ten thousand. In that time streets had been laid out, town lots staked off, and steps taken toward the formation of a municipal government.

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