Book Review: City : a guidebook for the urban age by P.D. Smith


Author: P.D. Smith
Title: City : a guidebook for the urban age
Publication Info:   Bloomsbury Press (2012)
ISBN: 9781608196760

Summary/Review:  This is kind of a coffee table book for urbanists depicting humanity’s greatest invention – the city!  The book is split into bit size chapters about different aspects of the city from public parks to public transportation, from skyscrapers to the street, and from coffehouses to hotels.  The books spans history and the globe seemingly try to create a city in the pages with snapshots of what makes up the city.

Favorite Passages:

“Look above the shopfronts and you begin to sense the history of the original buildings: exposed beams, time-roughened brickwork as red-raw as abraded skin, a plaque recording a creative life spent in a building, faded lettering advertising a long-defunct product.  As you stand in the high street, to the ubiquitous CCTV cameras you are just one more figure among the crowds of shoppers, someone with time to kill and money to spend.  But as you begin to notice these traces of the past and read the urban text, the city starts to come alive. You become part of its history, more than a mere consumer of products.  You are ready to begin a journey that can take you back to the roots of civilisation itself.  It is time to start walking.” – p. 171

“Creative cities are edgy places, where conservative, traditional forces collide with new, radical ideas in a shower of brilliant sparks.  Great cities are complex, even disorderly, cosmopolitan communities.  They are certainly not the easiest or safest places in which to live (housing conditions in Athens were far from ideal).  Such cities are often overwhelming and intense environments.  But this is often why they are such creative places. After all, it’s the irritant of sand in an oyster that produces a pearl.” – p. 253

Rating: **1/2

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