SimCity 5: ReDevelopment
January 26, 2003 9:28 AM   Subscribe

Why we are all Venetians now Witold Rybczynski talks about the changing functions of cities, urban planning and reuse, and the tourism industry where "the urban experience has become a new product of cities."
posted by kliuless (12 comments total)
great article, thanks for posting kliuless! As a suburbanite thinking of switching gears, it's good to see this side of things.
posted by condour75 at 9:39 AM on January 26, 2003

I couldn't imagine going on holiday and lying on a beach for a week, I need to be active, discovering new things. Which is why whenever I go somewhere for a visit, or a holiday, its some large city somewhere. I like the the hustle, the bustle. I like that there is some adventure in a shadowy corner, and that the walls could be hiding something extra-ordinary.
posted by feelinglistless at 9:50 AM on January 26, 2003

Somewhat related, I liked Witold's book "One Good Turn: A Natural History of the Screwdriver and the Screw". As a woodworker and an engineer I'm somewhat biased, but I thought it was an interesting bit of technical history.
posted by FissionChips at 10:28 AM on January 26, 2003

For a vastly different perspective on this, it's worth checking out Against Venice, by Regis Debray.

Debray is outraged by the very phenomenon Rybczynski describes in more positive terms: the afterlife of formerly busy cities as tourist attractions, Disneyesque simulations of themselves. While I have to confess to being more on the eager tourist's side of these issues, Debray's rant is original and thought-provoking.
posted by Rebis at 10:36 AM on January 26, 2003

Wherever I seem to go I get a guide, map, program, that announces that such and such a place combines The Old with The New.
Keith Richards, in the recent Stones concert on HBO, inteviewd briefly said It was good to be at Madison Square Garden. It was (he said) good to be anywhere.

Wherever you go, that's where you are.

Getting there is half the fun. Getting laid is 3.4s of it.
posted by Postroad at 11:30 AM on January 26, 2003

This article inspired me to go to the station on Saturday and get on the first train going somewhere. I'll let you know how I get on.
posted by feelinglistless at 11:58 AM on January 26, 2003

Hmm... Venice doesn't have very many native inhabitants left. The cost of living is high and tourists make the town unlivable in the summer. For tourists Venice is hellishly expensive, is about the only place in Italy where you find consistently bad food, and is filled with unconvinced. Venice is a beautiful city but I really hope that it doesn't represent the future of cities.
posted by rdr at 12:03 PM on January 26, 2003


that should be "filled with inconviences"

I've got to pay more attention to spellcheck's suggestions.
posted by rdr at 12:04 PM on January 26, 2003

should you?

posted by Vidiot at 4:46 PM on January 26, 2003

This 'change' seems ... manufactured. That is, Mr. Rybczynski ignores the European Grand Tour of the Victorian age, which was concentrated in urban areas; he ignores the long, long tradition of 'going to town' for leisure activities, which certainly predates the 60s when this change is supposed to have begun. And I think using Venice as the archetype is disingenuous. Venice is a special case; firstly, Venice's loss of 'real' residents is due just as much to the fact that its buildings are being eroded by seawater as to any increase in tourism, and secondly, the 'urban experience' is certainly not what brings people to Venice; there are far bigger and more interesting cities for that. People go to Venice to see the canals.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 4:49 PM on January 26, 2003

The rent expense drove me away to the suborbs, and life out here in the boonies sucks. The place looks deserted, aside from the morning and evening traffic hours. No sidewalks and - aside from the 7-11 and a mega movie theater - nothing that I can walk to.
posted by Witold at 8:29 PM on January 26, 2003

Cities have been and will probably always be the centers of civilization, the things that mark our change from agrarian nobody's to cultured sophisticates with written language, commerce, politics and organized religion. Perhaps it is the concentration of thought and productivity -- there's a reason bees make hives, you know? While I wretch in disguist ever time I walk along 42nd street in NYC, I know there are still another 200 square blocks in the surrounding area that aren't tourist destinations; they are filled with people struggling to get ahead, who tow the intellectual and cultural line for the rest of the country.

This will not change anytime soon. Even with the advent of the internet and online business collaboration, people still work better when they are surrounded by other people to get ideas from and bounce their ideas off of. This cultural feedback loop cannot be replaced by technology, at least not yet.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:31 AM on January 27, 2003

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