Restless Cities book cover

Michael Sheringham

“A city is a memory machine. Cities need their history as proof of their dynamism. Outside cities, in forests and plains, myths hold sway: places acquire legendary associations; hallowed sites engender pilgrimages or mirror cosmic forces. A city on the other hand comprises an accumulation of events that are converted into symbols in the collective memory of the inhabitants. The city itself is a microcosmos, a totality, and it has its own history, interiorize by its inhabitants. Names – of streets, squares, monuments and districts- play a key role in this process. This is partly because names often commemorate signal events, or key players in the city’s destiny, but it is also because these objective features of the urban landscape can ferry deeply personal associations.”

Marshall Berman

“As long as people have lived in cities, they have been haunted by fears of urban ruin. It isn’t hard to see why. Any city is a work of human construction and cooperation, but anything that can be constructed can be destroyed, and any bunch of human beings who can also work together can also turn against each other and destroy everything they have made. A city is one of the earliest and most enduring expressions of collective pride, but every language contains proverbs to remind people that pride comes before a fall. A city is an attempt at a kind of collective immortality – we die, but we hope our city’s forms and structures will live on.”

Restless Cities is a fantastic read. Purchase on amazon.

About pettydesign

James Petty is an American architect experiencing and contributing to the Yale School of Architecture.