Saturday 2013-05-04

Cities in Civilization by Peter Hall

Hall ostensibly reviews Cities from a perspective of creativity; happily, he fairly quickly drops that editorial appeasement and reviews the various forms of cities. Written in 1998, he leaves out Asia, to this work's great discredit.

However, of all the tales of cities founded and re-made, Haussmann's 1850-1860 restructuring of Paris astounds, and merits further research.

The Greek democracies always shrank from direct taxation, because it was seen as derogatory to the dignity of a free citizen; he should voluntarily give his wealth to the city...
The citizen thus might be subject to sudden imposts, which were very uncertain and could be steep; the system of taxation was very inefficient. The fact that it worked at all was a tribute to the wealth of Athens in the fourth century, and also to the fact that only a wealthy minority of citizens were liable to pay liturgies, while much of the regular taxation was extracted from the non-citizen, the katoikountes.
-- The Fountainhead
They saw wealth as good and desirable, even necessary for the life of the good citizen. But its function was not to provide a base for more acquisition; it was the very reverse, to liberate the citizen from economic activity and concern.
-- The Fountainhead
The builders of the Globe formed a profit-sharing syndicate; in the agreement of 21 February 1599... Shakespeare had one-fifth of a moiety or half i.e. 10 percent of the whole. Shakespeare was now a shareholder in a theatre company and theatre building of which he himself was a major asset.
-- The World as Stage
The average dwelling housed 4.4 persons, with an average of 1.24 per room, including kitchens, bathrooms, and front halls; many were forced to rent space to people who just needed a place to sleep, Bettgeher; many girls turned to prostitution just for that reason.
-- The City as Pleasure Principle
it is a sort of democratic club to which admission costs the small price of a cup of coffee. Upon payment of this mite every guest can sit for hours on end, discuss, write, play cards, receive his mail, and, above all, can go through an unlimited number of newspapers and magazines... nothing has contributed as much to the intellectual mobility and the international orientation of the Austrian as that he could keep abreast of all world events in the coffee-house, and at the same time discuss them in the circle of his friends.
-- The City as Pleasure Principle
( With space at a premium, how did Vienna's coffeeshops survive? At night they turned into bunkhouses?)
In addition to feeding the plebs, the authorities also had to amuse them during their holidays, which numbered 159 days annually during the time of Claudius, of which 93 were devoted to games given at public expense, rising to a staggering 200 in the third century A.D.
-- The Imperial Capital
So when Haussmann built his wide avenues radiating from the Etoile, the Trocadero, and the Place d'Alma, he was simply following market forces, preparing new residential areas for the bourgeoisie who were being pushed out of the centre by commerce and industry.
-- The City of Perpetual Public Works
Two brothers, the Pereires had already proved themselves crucial intermediaries in financing the railways, through a similar bank, the Credit Mobilier; they were masters at creating complex, vertically integrated financial systems that could be used to build railways, to launch all manner of industrial and commercial enterprises, and to carry out urban development. The Credit Foncier played a role similar to the railway companies: it stood between the city and the eventual investors, who bought the discounted bonds.
-- The City of Perpetual Public Works
In this way, Haussmann raised no less than one-fifth of the 2.5 billion francs he spent on his programme, against only one-third of the total covered by the surplus of rising city receipts over ordinary expenditures; and the costs escalated because of inflation and expropriation costs.
-- The City of Perpetual Public Works
I deeply scorn calumny ... The service to which I have subordinated my interests, my personal tastes, my old friends, and even the joys of my family, constitutes a capital d'honneur which I cherish with a kind of jealousy because it will be the bulk of the inheritance my children will receive....
-- Haussmann in The City of Perpetual Public Works
As long as motorcars were few in number, he who had one was a king... in using the car to flee from the metropolis the motorist finds that he has merely transferred congestion to the highway and therefore doubled it... in short, the American has sacrificed his life as a whole to the motorcar...
-- Lewis Mumford in The City as Freeway