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as it's obvious which came first, i think of cities as evolved from farming communities, in turn evolved from nomadic living.
suburbs could not have existed without cheap fuel and high numbers of cars, as they would be a huge challenge to serve without public transport, though it would be energetically cheaper than the 'cancer alleys' full of crawling, choking traffic that ring every modern city with a haze of life-threatening gas.
but suburbs were irresistible, after seeing cityscapes for a few generations out the grimy windows.
and healthier for the children, dear!
at first it was a snobby thing, and some still are, but during the 60's in england, 'suburban' was a terrible insult, whether applied to decor or people.
coz most suburbs were like croydon, not wimbledon.
so it was prices affordable to the young's first house, still within a brain-numbing rail haul into the maw, the caldera of creativity that is the centre, the mothernode, the octopus beak and brain.
too much city life is hard on the health, and the people who seemed to be best positioned to recieve the most benefit from the city, seem to be those who arrive fresh and hale from the commonwealth, or the dales, or cornwall...
or the 2% whose lifestyles permit the finest accoutrements. taxis everywhere, to whom the city is a smooth, well-oiled machine to satisfy any conceivable desire, no matter how bizzarre or exotic.
after the high accountability of living in a place where not only do you know everyone, but all your relations know everything about all their relations too, and nothing escapes often prurient notice, the city's allure is also anonymity, the relative invisibiilty of the crowd, in which mighty emotions were shared, in colosseum and cathedral, or in the crowded squares and markets.
markets created towns.
now look at dubai...it's a town creating a market!
cities accrued and concentrated wealth through adding value by education, and by secrecy, as in the guilds, the masons and the institutions of government, ecclesiastic, academic, monarchic, administrational and militaristic -easy to defend was a prime consideration, viz italy's hilltowns, like cortona.
the inability to make cities healthy places to live may change with peak oil, and possibly less car fumes, tho' if we return to coal for heat it would be a nightmare.
i remember the pea-soup yellow fogs of 50's london, and there are many more living there now.
tho i heard the thames is getting cleaner.
with telecommuting, travel costs that truly reflect the energy they burn, and the widespread rollout of highspeed broadband, i am betting on a resutgence of country life.
as petrochemical farming dies out, the countryside will be much less polluted, rivers will be fishable, reservoirs will be used to store rain and runoff, wildlife will return as more biomass land is planted.
travelling will become the mindblowing experience it was before homogenisation, and abandoned, once empty reaches of habitation will recolonise with those who have wearied of the bombardment of data the city insists upon, and who value the peace to collate and peruse what they have learned.
cities will plant many more trees and make parks, roof gardens, balconies for flowers, and ugly buildings will be covered by creeping vines.
instead of division between centre and periphery, i foresee a flattening out of the differences between city and country...
both/and, not either/or.
a balanced childhood would combine wide experiences of both, so people are comfortable with either, as both -and all the burbs in between - can be interesting as points along the continuum between society and solitude, both so necessary for survival and equilibrium.
thanks for letting me share what my crystal ball is showing!
'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
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