URSI 100--Introduction to the City


Notes on Readings


Robert Putnam, “Bowling Alone” (105-113)

Concept of “social capital”—social networks & contacts

Same activities are occurring (bowling), but in individualized rather than social form (“bowling alone” rather than in bowling leagues)

Reinforces self-interested choice, but also reinforces fragmentation and anomie


John Mollenkopf, “How to Study Urban Political Power” (235-243)

Types of power:

Pluralist (coalitions)

Structuralist (systemic power)

Neo-Marxist (class & regime)

Public choice (self-interest)


John Forester, “Planning in the Face of Power (375-387)


Regulator (facts)

Negotiator (concerns)

Resource (convener)

Diplomat (probe & advise)

Mediator (advocate)

Split (mediate & negotiate)

Sherry Arnstein, “A Ladder of Citizen Participation (244-245)

Levels of Participation:

Citizen Power:

Citizen Control

Delegated Power










Paul Davidoff, “Advocacy & Pluralism in Planning (388-398)

“Appropriate planning action cannot be prescribed from a position of value neutrality, for prescriptions are based on desired objectives.”

Plural planning (advocacy of alternative plans):

Better informs public of alternatives choices that are open, and who their proponents are.

Forces public agencies to compete with other planning groups to win political support.

Forces critics of “establishment” plans to produce superior plans (price of criticism is a better alternative)


Stephen Wheeler, “Planning Sustainable & Livable Cities” (486-496)

Core themes:

1.      Concern for long-term perspective

2.      Concern for natural environment

3.      Recognition of the complex web of interconnections between issues & actors

4.      Livability

Implications for urban development:

1.      Compact, efficient land use

2.      Less automobile use, better access

3.      Efficient resource use, less pollution and waste

4.      Restoration of natural systems

5.      Good housing and living environments

6.      A healthy social ecology

7.      Sustainable economics

8.      Community participation and involvement

9.      Preservation of local culture and wisdom


William Mitchell, “The Teleserviced City” (497-503)

Typology of service systems:

        Summoning assistance

        Keeping tabs

        Surveillance and seclusion

        Delivery at a distance

Effect of teleservice:

        Expanding web of indirect relationships


        Teleservice paradox (some teleservice will still depend on local providers)

        Electronic fronts, architectural backs


VanderPloeg & Berdahl, “”Urban Finance”

Fiscal crisis caused by

        Rapid population growth

        “Fringe” growth (sprawl)

        Poor revenue growth


        Focus on core competencies

        Expand user fees & set “correct price” for services

        Adapt alternative service delivery mechanisms (“contract out”)

        Enhance capital financing (“leverage”)

        Innovate in income sources


Garrett Hardin, “Tragedy of the Commons”

  • Adam Smith’s “Invisible hand”
  • Tragedy of the Commons—gain to self, cost spread among all, so all pursue action, resulting in collapse (and loss to all)
  • Morality of action is systems-sensitive (action alone is not determinative)
    • Appeal to conscience is counter-evolutionary (the conscientious will choose not to breed, and so eventually die out)
  • Solution: Abandon commons in favor of “mutual coercion mutually agreed on.”



Kaiser & Godschalk, “Twentieth Century Land Use Planning”

  • Early influences:
    • Daniel Burnham’s 1909 plan for Chicago
    • 1928 Standard City Planning Enabling Act (confusion about difference between master plan & zoning ordinance)
    • Edward Bassett’s 1938 The Master Plan
  • Midcentury Comprehensive Planning
    • Section 701 of 1954 Housing Act: Specified contents of comprehensive development plan
      • Land use plan (residential, commercial, industrial, transportation, and public purpose)
      • Plan for circulation facilities
      • Plan for public utilities
      • Plan for community facilities
    • TJ Kent’s Urban General Plan (1964). Should be a complete, comprehensible document suitable for public debate, and should be adopted by the legislative body. Should include:
      • General physical design for the future
      • Goals & policies
      • Summaries of background conditions, trends, issues, problems, and assumptions
    • F. Stuart Chapin, Jr’s Urban Land Use Planning (1957, 1965)
      • Statement of objectives
      • Description of existing conditions & future needs
      • Mapped proposal for future development of community
      • Program for implementing plan (zoning, subdivision control, housing code, public works expenditure program, urban renewal program)
  • Contemporary Plans
    • Land Use Design plan
    • Land Classification plan (development priorities planning)
    • Verbal Policy plan
    • Development Management plan
    • Hybrid plan: integrating design, policy, and management
      • Consistency
      • Concurrency
      • Compactness
      • Economic development
      • Sustainability


Duany & Plater-Zyberk, “The Neighborhood, the District, and the Corridor”

  • Neighborhood
    • Center & edge
    • mile radius
    • Balanced mix of activities (dwelling, shopping, working, schooling, worshipping, recreating)
    • Fine network of interconnecting streets
    • Priority to public spaces and appropriate location of civic buildings
  • District
    • More specialized, approaching single-use
  • Corridor
    • Continuous element (not leftover space at edges)
    • Connects & separates neighborhoods
    • Visibly continuous


Ebenezer Howard, “Town-Country Magnet”

  • Town/Country Magnet
  • Garden City Concept (32,000 people on 1,000 acres of land)
    • Satellite cities separated by permanent green space and connected by public transportation (rail)
    • Public core (“Central Park”)
    • Houses & Gardens
    • Workshops & factories


LeCorbusier, “A Contemporary City

  • 3,000,000 people
  • Industrial City with surrounding Garden Cities
  • City must be opened up for air
  • Street as “workshop” and sized for function.
  • Basic Principles:
    • De-congest city centers
    • Augment densities
    • Increase means for getting about
    • Increase parks & open space
  • A city built for speed is a city built for success


Saskia Sassen, “The Impact of the New Technologies and Globalization on Cities”

  • New forms of centrality
    • “Center” is no longer a simple link to geographic entity like “downtown”
      • CBD remains a key form of centrality
        • BUT—La Defense (Paris) & The Docklands (London)
      • Grid of nodes of intense business activity (Zurich, Frankfurt)
      • Formation of transterritorial “center” via telematics & intense economic transactions
    • Ascendance of finance has devastating impacts on
      • Other industries
      • Particular sectors of population
      • Entire economies
  • Concentration and Redefinition of the Center
    • New technologies require
      • complete redundancy of telecommunications systems
      • high carrying capacity
      • often, own private exchange (or T-1 line)
  • Service Intensity & Globalization
    • Sharp growth in global economic activity
      • Raises scale and complexity of transactions
      • Increases service intensity in organization of all industries
      • Economic core of banking and service activities replaces older manufacturing-oriented core
    • Formation of a new production complex
      • Supports freestanding specialized service sector (“Producer services”)
      • Locate near producers of key inputs or partners in joint production of complex services
    • Region in global information age
      • Regionalization of economic sector has boundaries set by time of reasonable commute to major production complex
      • Global economic cities have stronger orientation to global markets than to their hinterlands


Manuel Castells, “European Cities, the Informational Society, and the Global Economy”

  • “The New History”
    • Technological informational revolution (not determinant, but running through all)
    • Information handling supersedes material production and service provision
    • Formation of global economy
  • Crises of identity
    • National identity (and retreat to neolibertarianism or neonationalism)
    • Environmental movement
    • Women’s movement
  • Spatial transformation of major cities
    • Informational global economy driven by national/international business centers
    • New managerial technocratic political elite (torn between attraction to peaceful comfort of boring suburbs and exciting, but hectic and expensive, urban life)
    • Urban space differentiated in social terms, while remaining functionally interrelated and physically contiguous (which creates tension)
  • Informational City
    • 3 simultaneous processes
      • Reinforcement of metropolitan hierarchy
      • Decline of old dominant industrial regions that were unable to adapt
      • Emergence of new regions
    • Success depends on ability to combine
      • Informational capacity
      • Quality of life
      • Connectivity to network of metropolitan centers
    • 3 “Cities”
      • Informational City” (space of flows over space of places)
      • Global City
      • Dual City (polarized occupational structure)
        • Spatially coexisting, socially exclusive groups & functions
        • Resulting tension leads to “defensive spaces”
        • Cosmopolitan elites vs. tribal locals tied to community
  • Challenge of the Future—articulate a globally oriented economic city with a locally rooted society and culture
    • Local government will be the focus of this process
      • Rather than mastering the entire complexity of globalism, governments will deal with specific problems in specific local circumstances
      • To succeed, local governments must
        • Foster citizen participation
        • Collaborate and network with each other
        • Work within their historical as well as future identity


A Great Good Place

V. Gordon Childe, “The Urban Revolution

  • 3 stages—savagery (wild food), barbarism (some cultivated plants), civilization (writing and cities)
  • Cities characterized by size and density of settlement
    • Density determined by food supply
    • Cities require regular production of social surplus (not all labor goes to generating food)
    • Surplus leads to social division of labor
  • Cities are distinguished from earlier villages by:
    • Size & density of population
    • Composition and function of population
    • Surplus capital concentrated by king or deity
    • Monumental public buildings symbolizing concentration of social surplus
    • Ruling class
    • Systems for recording information, & exact sciences
    • Invention of writing
    • Artistic expression
    • Importation of raw materials
    • Social & political community to which craftsmen could belong (craftsmen not itinerant)


HDF Kitto, “The Polis”

  • Greeks preferred to live in independent town or village, walk out to his work, and spend rather ample leisure time talking in town or village square.
  • The name for the Greek city-state was “polis.” It meant
    • Citadel
    • Town
    • State
    • Polity
    • The people in the city
    • Way of life
  • Aristotle wrote, “Man is a creature who lives in a polis.”


Friedrich Engels, “The Great Towns

  • “Great Towns” are
    • Individuals crowded together, within a limited space
    • Dissolution of mankind into “monads”
    • Results in “social war”—war of each against all
    • The “social war” is carried on by means of capital (the control of the means of subsistence and production), which means that the disadvantages of such a system fall mostly on the poor.
  • The condition of the working class
    • Working-class quarters are sharply separated from middle-class
    • Working-class conditions are squalid and unhealthy


Janet Abu-Lughod, “The Islamic City”

  • Traditional Islamic cities
    • Population categorized by relation to the umma (community of believers), and thus the state
    • Neighborhood was crucial building block of city
    • Islamic gender segregation led to architectural and spatial demands
    • Property law established pre-existing rights for individuals and collective users of land & real property
      • Access to entrances takes priority over thoroughfares or public use of land


Frederick Law Olmstead, “Public Parks and the Enlargement of Towns”

  • Large size & density of towns affects health & morals because
    • Unhealthy air
    • Tendency to regard others in a guarded way
  • Remedies
    • Air is disinfected by sunlight & foliage
    • Can separate dwellings from commerce (since town walls are no longer required)
    • Make special provisions on some streets for trees to remain as permanent furniture (perhaps in space in front of house)
    • Accommodations for recreation to counteract enervating effects of town life
      • Exertive vs. Receptive recreation (which is further divided into gregarious and neighborly activity)
      • Numerous small grounds preferable to single large one, if connected by boulevards
  • “If the great city is laid out little by little and chiefly to suit the views of land-owners, acting only individually…to many [it] will amount to nothing.”
  • There should also be a large, regional park located near the great towns, connected by Park-ways to various parts of the city.


Camillo Sitte, “Art of Building Cities”

  • Aristotle: “A city should be built to give its inhabitants security and happiness.”
  • Public squares in ancient cities were “rooms”--like concert halls without ceilings
    • The forum was the “principal room of the house”
    • Today, squares lack the pedestrian circulation they enjoyed in older times
    • Statues are placed in the middle of squares, rather than decorating the sides
  • Enclosed Character of Public Squares
    • Enclosure is necessary for harmonious effect
    • Only one street at the angle of each square—like turbine arms
    • Streets enter square at right angles, rather than parallel
    • Infinite perspective of long street broken by monumental portal or several arcades.


William H. Whyte, “The Design of Spaces”

  • Best-used plazas
    • Supply creates demand
    • Sociable places
    • Higher than average proportion of women
  • Factors for success
    • People’s movements are one of the great spectacles of a plaza
    • Location is important—must tap a strong flow of pedestrians
    • Close to bus-stops is good
    • Sunlight, aesthetics, and shape of the space are important, but not determinative
    • Seating and relationship to the street are the key factors
  • Seating
    • Integral seating
    • Sitting height—1-3’
    • Ledges and spaces “two backsides deep” are most attractive
    • Pedestrian circulation through & within plazas should be encouraged
    • Benches are not very good for sitting—they tend to be immovable, and people generally sit only on the ends
    • Chairs are better than benches—movable
    • Grass is good for sitting, too
  • Relationship to the street
    • The street functions as part of the plaza or square
    • Street corner is the most vital space of all
    • Do not “wall off” the plaza from the street or sidewalk


Louis Wirth, “Urbanism as a Way of Life”

  • Cities are characterized by
    • Large size
    • Density
    • Heterogeneity (diversity)
  • Results in
    • Substitution of secondary for primary contacts
    • Declining social significance of the family
    • Spread of voluntary organizations (people of similar interests organized into groups)
    • Personal disorganization, crime, and mental disease
    • Manipulation by symbols & stereotypes managed by unknown others


WEB DuBois, “The Negro Problem”

  • Slum is noisy and dissipated, but not brutal
  • When one group of people suffer all these little differences of treatment and discrimination and insults continually, the result is either discouragement, or bitterness, or over-sensitiveness, or recklessness. And a people feeling thus cannot do their best.


James Q. Wilson, “Broken Windows”

  • Feeling of safety affected by
    • Crime
    • Public order (being bothered by disorderly people)
  • Solution is to elevate public order
    • Which will discourage crime
    • “If a window in a building is broken and is left unrepaired, all the rest of the windows will soon be broken.”
  • Vandalism occurs once communal barriers (sense of mutual regard and obligations of civility) are lowered by actions that signal that “no one cares.”
    • In response to fear, people avoid one another, weakening controls
  • Situation has deteriorated since WWII, because
    • Easier to move away from neighborhood problems
    • Lack of police authority
      • Initially, role of police was “watchman”—maintaining order. Solving crimes was a late addition
      • Essence of police role in maintaining order is to reinforce informal control mechanisms of the community itself
      • This means police activity should be shaped by neighborhood standards rather than rules of the state
        • But raises risk of police becoming agents of neighborhood bigotry
        • But we think of law in individualistic terms, rather than communal
      • Two traditions of communal involvement in maintaining order
        • Community watchmen
        • Vigilantes
  • Police ought to protect communities as well as individuals; need to measure community losses as well as individual ones.



2003 A.J.Filipovitch
Revised 14 June 07