Saturday, January 2, 2016

"Private Space Masquerading as a Public Space"

That's how David L. Ulin describes Los Angeles's streets in 9-1/2 minute interview on KPCC. He said, since we stopped using the streets as public space after WW2--using them instead as private spaces as we drove, enclosed in our cars, from one public space to another--our streets are "now a private space masquerading as a public space."

That's an intriguing concept to me. I got exposed to the idea of "public space"--a very strange idea to me at first--about 15 years ago when I met graduate students who were veering away from history to study Public Spaces in History: how designing a city or parks or streets actually shaped civic growth and culture, separating some groups from others or inviting them in. And of course, how those spaces changed over time, and what that meant about who was in control of the space.

If that subject intrigues you, there's a TED talk on it, given by Amanda Burden: "How public spaces make cities work."

Ulin also offers an essay called "Writing the City," which is basically a bunch of brief discussions on books about walking through cities, like Walker in the City, by Alfred Kazin. Which lead up to his contribution to the genre.

So I've made this my featured book. At $15 for the hardcover, it's quite a bargain, and since the book just came out in October it has few Amazon reviews.

And now I must go put in a request for the book from our library. Then I will review it.

Have I mentioned how important Amazon reviews are to authors? More reviews means more visibility. Please, please support authors you like by writing reviews, however brief, for their books!

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