10 thoughts on “The City In History: Its Origins, Its Transformations, And Its Prospects

  1. Andrew Andrew says:

    Mumford is, in many ways, a total precursor to the postmodernists He maintains a skepticism towards Enlightenment as well as a strong respect for the subjective, vital forces of humanity Like any good contemporary social thinker, he recognizes that the parsing of culture into numeric bits and pieces is only one among many methods of attaining knowledge.There s a certain Eurocentrism which is to be expected for a writer from


  2. Bryan "They call me the Doge" Bryan "They call me the Doge" says:

    My first experience reading Lewis Mumford was a collection of his writings for The New Yorker, where he served as architecture critic, and which impressed me by exposing a way of looking at building design which I hadn t even considered before, in a way that was easy to grasp This ease was facilitated by interest, of course if one is immune to the charms of architecture and design, then it s doubtful his essays would appeal T


  3. Lori Lori says:

    Reviewing such a monumental book is in of itself a monumental task, one for which no one is up to task, least of all me There are many observations that you will simply not find in here No review, no summary, could ever substitute reading this book.The best one sentence summary of the book is given by this sentence When both the evil and the remedy are indistinguishable, one may be sure that a deep seated process is at work p 5


  4. Julie Mickens Julie Mickens says:

    Just a brief 650 pages Mumford was a prolix guy who saw no need to keep his sentences short, but he knew his subject matter and wasn t shy about making sweeping evaluations of entire centuries and or millennia Why not He s probably right Here is what Louis Mumford thought about the urbanism achievements of various eras as ever so SLIGHTLY simplified by me Neolithic villages Underrated matriarchy Sumer Underrated in importance, bu


  5. Nicholas Moryl Nicholas Moryl says:

    This book s importance is mainly historical As a work of urban planning analysis and history, it is a failure The City in History was written in an era when hand waving and appeal to common knowledge were acceptable ways to argue a point There is little to no primary source information or data to support Mumford s claims about the causes or impacts of various elements in the evolution of urban design E.g on p 448 9 he points to the


  6. Czarny Pies Czarny Pies says:

    Lewis Mumford s The City in History is great fun to read He provides a dazzling show of erudition moving from De Tocqueville to Gilgamesh to Frederick Law Olmsted to Proust and to Vitruvius with dazzling speed somehow always tying his eclectic stable of references into a coherent narrative history In my case the pleasure of was greatly enhanced by the fact that my prejudices in most instances with those of Mumford which are 1 The Urb


  7. Piotr Smolnicki Piotr Smolnicki says:

    It s an obligation to read this book for every urban researcher to know what innovative thoughts are just reinventions of ones in the past.


  8. Matt Matt says:

    Possibly the most valuable book I have read An education in what a city should be.


  9. Shreedhar Manek Shreedhar Manek says:

    This has everything I do not want to write anything .


  10. Michael Holm Michael Holm says:

    1961 Copyright Harvest Book by Harcourt, Inc 575 pagesSummary The author describes the design of cities in Europe and the USA as a place for humans to live by periods ancient pre historical Mesopotamia, Egypt, Crete , classical historical, Greece and Rome medieval 8th to 16 centuries , baroque 16 18th centuries, the industrial revolution , suburbia and contemporary up to 1960 His descriptions include economic, religious, military and ethnic factors that influence the development of citi 1961 Copyright Harvest Book by Harcourt, Inc 575 pagesSummary The author describes the design of cities in Europe and the USA as a place for humans to live by periods ancient pre historical Mesopotamia, Egypt, Crete , classical historical, Greece and Rome medieval 8th to 16 centuries , baroque 16 18th centuries, the industrial revolution , suburbia and contemporary up to 1960 His descriptions include economic, religious, military and ethnic factors that influence the development of cities and their design His perspective is humanistic, that is, he regards cities as a place for the common person to live and realize his her full potential Needless tosay, most cities through most of history have not been successful in this regard What makes this history compelling is just this perspective it causes one to consider his her own life and its potential Social interactions in the city are deemed essential for the social development of one s self Predictably, Athens is portrayed as a high point, generating the familiar great Greeks such as Sophocles and Socrates Venice and Amsterdam also win high praise as does the townships and villages of New England The village is his ideal community size for social development Community religious pageants are considered very important In several chapter sections, he opines about democracy and the gap between the rich in control and the poor workers He is very realistic but his sympathy is definitely for the exploited workers Most of the grand monuments and structures that we visit today were built on the exploitation of ignorant workers inured to tyranny Spaciousness, especially green space, as in parks has his recommendation and approval.His vision The purpose of the city That magnification of all the dimensions of life, through emotional communion, rational communication, technological mastery, and above all, dramatic representation, has been the supreme office of the city in history the next to the last sentence in the book.Evaluation Commentary There is a wealth of information and insights in this history with a good bit of opinion thrown in It is well written but somewhat verbose and his opinions are somewhat repetitious These are opinions about the gap between the rich and the poor, exploitation of the workers and democratic governance He detests ostentatiousness and conspicuous waste of wealth The palaces, cathedrals and monuments were built with taxes from the common people The narrative heats up with some passion at these points which roused me on several occasions in agreement He has a refreshing evaluation of the Greek culture as exemplified in Athens Athens was a democracy only for free men, not for women nor slaves It also was piratical, subjugating other Greek cities to get tributes taxes , instead of forming a confederation as equals for mutual defense and aid.His ideal city is rather vague discussing suburbs he likes openness and greenery and variety of design but complains that they are too insulated from the problems and social interactions of the city Describing inner cities, he complains that they need green space andprivacy The ideal still seems to be the prehistoric village So his criteria seems to shift somewhat from one case to another.One glaring deficiency seems to be total disregard for efforts to tolerate and assimilate other cultures within neighborhoods. His vision is limited to homogenous neighborhoods where a common religion is shared I imagine that he would support assimilation if he were alive today But I don t see how the envisioned communal self can be achieved with large cultural and religiousdifferences.Credentials Lewis Mumford was not a historian on a collegiate faculty, but rather a journalist, serving as an architectural critic for the New Yorker magazine for 30 years He is the author of many books about design and cities This book was the National Book Award winner in 1961 He is very well read in this field as his bibliography testifies.Rating I rated it 4 stars mostly due to vision and scholarship I did not give it a 5 because of verbosity and some repetition Actually, 4.5 would be accurate This is a very thought provoking read, causing me to reflect on my own life and how to achieve my maximal potential


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