The reading this week gave a glimpse to the immensity of the issues of defining and organizing an urban space. From the work of Lewis Mumford and Louis Worth that offered definitions of urban space and the social ramifications of that urban space to a summery peace by Nicholas Lemann that gave modern perspectives to describing what makes a urban space successful, there is much to be contemplated and argued.
Of specific note within the Lemann peace is the arguments laid out by Richard Florida and Edward Glaser. Florida argued that the modern urban spaced is economically maintained by what he coins the “Creative Class”; scientist, architects, academics, artists and the like. Glaesar agues that, not completely counter to Florida, that urban space is economically maintained by the people living and working in close proximity creates a kind of creative either that allows for innovation. From another reading, The Urban Experience: Economics, Society and Public Policy by Barry Bluestone, Mary Stevenson and Russell Williams, the work of Florida and Glaesar should also be discussed with that of Joseph Cortright who stated that urban spaces are created and maintained because people want to live in those spaces and take part in the commotion opportunities offered by the space (154). The three works together create the idea of an economically sound urban environment is maintained by the rate of meaningful and directional human interaction, which is confined by some geography, as observed by Mumford.
A literary arc can be seen in the works read this week, as the time frame in which the authors are writing changes so two does the examples and references. Mumford work, written durning the Great Depression, offers much in the way of defining a city by its geography, using phrases such as ‘geographic plexus’. Some consideration is given to communication and transportation but not nearly as much as Florida and Glasar who were writing in the twenty-first century who were writing, rather typing, in an age of the internet. This dynamic creates an apples and oranges problem when superficially reading through the work because the the early writers simply can not comment on events of our current situation. Mumford states that urban spaces should be through of as a stage, but does not offer any comment on the single largest public stage in human history, youtube, because it simply isn’t a possibility in his world. This may be making a statement about two un-alike concepts, Lemann compared a city scape as a stage on in analogy where as youtube is a very real platform, but the overarching issue still remains. Does the work of authors prior to the internet have sway in modern city scape discussion? Was the internet that revolutionary in terms of how we live our lives?
Simple question phrazed in such a broad manner leads to inconclusive results, and this is no different. It is worth noting though that the last technology that changed signifcantly lowered the cost of communication at the scale of the internet, the printing press, did not change the day-to-day funcationality of cities, just how we understood them. Comparing that time period to this it is not Lemann and the older authors that need to be re-evaluated, rather the newer authors for overstating the value of technology in the landscape. Rather then a new social-classes, there are the same classes in a different cloak. Maybe more public then in the past because of how communication has changed, but still ultamatly the same types of people, still trying to make a living in more or less the same environment as our predesors. And isn’t that the ultamite goal?