‘What was Hell ever for?’ Lancashire within Spatial and Cultural Contexts


“Life in a Tenement Square” By Flogging Molly

Well I kissed the day, I was on my way 

From those cold gray blocks of stone
For seventeen years of squalor filled tears
A time now with innocence lost
As the sun split the room
With its rays filled with gloom
Turnin’ all hope to despair
And the only thing left
Was to flee from the nest
That was Life In A Tenement Square:

I remember the song where the rats sang along
And danced for their daily bread
While the damp washed the walls
That were twenty feet tall
Not a child in the house was fed
On the porter filled face
Of the men left a trace
Of the coin they had already spent
While our mothers asked God
What was Hell ever for
When you lived in a Tenement Square

Grab what’s left of the coal
From the ol’ cubbyhole
These cinders need more to be a fire
While the ghosts of the soldiers
That lived there before us
Laugh with their guns by their side
I hear them laugh, with their guns by their side

Now politicians they dwell
In that forgotten Hell
Our misery’s been turned into mews
Where the fat of the land
Now hog, hand-in-hand
A crime now of life was ever true
As the sun split the room
With its rays filled with gloom
Turnin’ all hope to despair

And the only thing left
Was to flee from the nest
That was Life In A Tenement Square…

(Lyrics retrieved from: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/floggingmolly/lifeinatenementsquare.html).

“And our Mothers asked God/What was Hell ever for/When you lived in a tenement square[?]”

“We know that poverty is unpleasant; in fact, since it is so remote, we rather enjoy               harrowing ourselves with the thought of its unpleasantness.  But don’t expect us to do       anything about it.  We are sorry for you lower classes, just as we are sorry for a cat           with the mange, but we will fight like devils against any improvement of your condition.       We feel that you are much safer as you are.  The present state of affairs suits us, and       we are not going to take the risk of setting you free, even by an extra hour a day.  So,         dear brothers, since evidently you must sweat to pay for our trips to Italy, sweat and           be damned to you.”[1]

George Orwell reflects the elite attitude towards the working class in his first hand account of poverty.  Orwell’s cardinal sociological/journalistic work Down and out in Paris and London follows his experiences living as a tramp and vagrant among the working class people in two European nations.  The attitude of bourgeoisie towards their underlings is further highlighted by Friedrich Engels in The Condition of the Working Class in England.  “We have seen in the course of our report how the bourgeoisie exploits the proletariat in every conceivable way for its own benefit!”[2]

Engels focuses on particular regions and cities within the British Isles to illustrate the abject poverty, despair and squalor experienced by the working class.  When writing of the Great Towns, Engels hones in on Lancashire.  Indeed, Manchester and the surrounding cities are the epicenter of the Industrial Revolution.  Thus the industrial impacts on the land, people, and cities are readily observed in this area.

Engels writes of the beauty of Lancashire that clashes with the industrial slum of the cities and towns, “Again we have beautiful country sloping gently from the watershed westwards towards the Irish Sea, with […] charming green valleys […].”[3]  However; Engels continues, “The degradation to which the application of steam-power, machinery, and the division of labor reduce the working man” cannot be ignored.[4] The reduction of the working man is poignantly articulated through Engels in graphic descriptions of death, disease and malaise.  Moreover, Engels describes the spatial setting of the working class in the context of their suffering.

There can be a tendency to believe that England is a bastion of civilization and high culture.  British Imperialism was founded on notions of inherent superiority and enlightenment.  However, by closely examining the cultural and spatial conditions of Britain’s working poor, it becomes clear that this bastion of civilization is a multilayered structure with an exploitation fueled ‘enlightenment.’

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Image 1. By C. Smith in Lancashire 2005.  The coal blackened stone of factories and mills can be seen on most buildings.

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Image 2. By C. Smith in Lancashire 2005.  Row housing allows for the working poor to live side by side.

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Image 3. By C. Smith in Wigan, Lancashire 2005.  A public square in Wigan.

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Image 4. By C. Smith in Wigan, Lancashire 2005.  A metal and stone fence protects an abandoned building from vagrants.

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Image 5. By C. Smith in Lancashire 2005.  A farmer’s field is surrounded by trees and glens.

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Image 6.  By C. Smith in Lancashire 2005.  The green valleys that Engels referenced are clear on this view from a hike to Rivington Pike.

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Image 7. By C. Smith in Lancashire 2005.  The green of Lancashire.

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Image 8. By C. Smith in Lancashire 2005.  Rivington Pike, a former watch tower used to spot the Spanish Armada sits atop a hill that can see the entire expanse of Lancashire.

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Image 9. By C. Smith in Lancashire 2005.  Rivington Pike, a stark contrast between the deep history of Lancashire, the greenery and the nearby industrialized cities and towns.



“The tendency of mechanical progress, then, is to frustrate the human need for effort and creation.  It makes unnecessary and even impossible the activities of the eye and the hand.”[5] George Orwell.


[1] Orwell, Down and out, 119.

[2] Engels, The Condition, 286.

[3] Engels, The Condition, 54.

[4] Engels, The Condition, 54.

[5] Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier, 186.


Engels, Friedrich. The Condition of the Working Class in England. Stanford, Calif.:                    Stanford University Press, 1968.

Orwell, George. The Road to Wigan Pier. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1958.

Orwell, George. Down and out in Paris and London: A Novel. New York: Harcourt                    Brace Jovanovich, 1961.


****Note: Formatting is somewhat incorrect as I could not make the block citation appear correctly.

Glazed Facades

It seems very ironic to me that America, following WWII, would have put together a propaganda campaign that portrayed Modernism as something well-suited to democracy. (1)  One of British philosopher Richard Wollheim’s arguments in favor of democracy is that “the ordinary human being is the best judge of her own interests.  Only by controlling government through a democracy do these best interests prevail.” (2)  Modernist planning, on the other hand (in the schemes we have been looking at, at least) entails a system where the only interests that prevail are those of the master planner, the architect, or the engineer – in a word, the elite.  This view can perhaps be summed up as: the ordinary person is not a scholar, a scientist, or a technician, and therefore is not the best judge of her own interests.  As James Scott points out, Le Corbusier wrote of his plans as being “correct, realistic, [and] exact,” yet created “well away from the frenzy in the mayor’s office or the town hall, from the cries of the electorate…” Yet the plans somehow still miraculously manage to contain, according to Le Corbusier, “nothing but human truths.” (3)

Le Corbusier’s “correct” plans, however, are frequently nothing more than wildly subjective expressions of his own personal aesthetic tastes. (4)  He claims, for example, that “we rarely care to look at the silhouette of houses seen against the sky; the sight would be too painful… the silhouette seems a gash, a ragged, tumultuous line with jutting broken forms.  And our need of delight and enthusiasm finds nothing to evoke it in this incoherence…” (5) Also read: “What would it matter if… behind the screen of trees there stood the tremendous silhouettes of the sky-scrapers?  They would supply a background bathed in light, radiant with their glazed facades…” (6) In these passages, Le Corbusier is expressing his own aesthetic tastes and nothing more.  It may indeed come as a great surprise, then, to someone so proud of being tucked “well away” from public opinion, that many people actually find, in shambolic skylines, a “delight and enthusiasm” that they would say is often evoked by looking upon scenes of wide-ranging detail and variety.  On the other hand, there are those who, obviously unknown to Le Corbusier, feel bored, dehumanized, anxious, or out of touch when in the shadow of a monolithic, uniform slab of glass and concrete.  Why would these people shun straight lines and absurdly simple layouts; are they just pack donkeys, or are they humans with more on their mind than just machine functions?

What elite Modernist thinking ignores is that ordinary people have had a wide variety of empirical experience with different living conditions, many of which the elite planner knows nothing of.  This reservoir of workaday empirical experience is something that would prove immensely useful to any planner or designer trying to build places where people can not only function, but feel comfortable, happy, nostalgic, gregarious, contemplative, spiritual, creative… all the other things that life includes.  I would argue that Modernist planning is inherently undemocratic in that it explicitly and proudly ignores the diverse empirical experiences of ordinary people (that is, where it doesn’t seek to reroute them completely in the name of “social engineering”).  Ordinary citizens are not allowed to have plans for the Modernist city; on the contrary, the city has very detailed, rigid, and uniform plans for them, and for what their houses and workplaces and many of their actions will look like.  Beyond the master planner or architect, there is no room for an individual who might want to express her own emotions or ideas of beauty through architecture.

Christopher Alexander is one contemporary architect, designer, and urban theorist whose use of ordinary empirical experience might come as incredibly refreshing to anyone fed up with the continuing elitism of architects who pat each other on the back for monolithic projects that often come off as inscrutable, bland, and depressing to many of the ordinary people who have to live in or near them.  Even a cursory glance at Alexander’s A Pattern Language will reveal a way of planning that is, in its emphasis on actual human interaction and emotions, very much at loggerheads with Modernism.  For instance, his warning never to build “large monolithic buildings,” is backed up with many empirical observations to support the claim that “the more monolithic the building is, the more it prevents people from being personal, and from making human contact with other people in the buildings.” (7)  Or contrast with Modernism his assertion that “building set-backs from the street, originally invented to protect the public welfare by giving every building light and air, have actually helped greatly to destroy the street as a social space.” (8)  He instead outlines other ways to ensure air and sunlight, such as height limits and building wings, all while preserving spaces for vibrant and varied social interaction.

Alexander’s ideas are brilliant and benevolent for their observations of how people actually use and relate to buildings; his plans create more human and less machine-like spaces. Alexander’s work addresses questions like: What kind of rooms and lighting do people gravitate towards? What kind of environments facilitate easy and friendly interactions?  What kind of staircases, outside building walls, and columns connect you to your environment, or can you lounge on and feel comfortable and not stifled? (Some possible solutions, by the way, include open stairs connected to the ground, building edges with places to sit and lounge, and thick columns (9)).  These questions can be answered by ordinary people everywhere – who have all sorts of different traditions, emotions, and preferences, and who use buildings and cities everyday – much better than they can be answered by solitary and dispassionate mathematicians and architects.


1) See “Science, Technology, and the International Style” in Cor Wagenaar, ed. Happy: Cities and Public Happiness in Post-War Europe, 78-79.

2) Richard Wollheim’s ideas are from “Democracy,” Journal of the History of Ideas 19 (1958): 225-42, especially 241-2, summed up in H.B. McCullough, Political Ideologies (Don Mills: OUP, 2010),  65-66.

3) These quotes are from Le Corbusier, The Radiant City: Elements of a Doctrine of Urbanism to Be Used as the Basis of Our Machine-Age Civilization, trans. Pamela Knight (New York: Orion Press, 1964), 154, quoted in James Scott, Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998), 112.

4) James Scott corroborates this often in Chapter 4 (“The High-Modernist City”) of Seeing Like a State.

5) Le Corbusier, The City of To-morrow and Its planning, trans. from 8th French ed. of ‘Urbanisme’ by Frederick Etchells (New York, Dover, 1987), 232.

6) Ibid., 240.

7) Alexander et al., A Pattern Language (New York: OUP, 1977), 468-472: Pattern 95: Building Complexes.

8) Ibid., 593-595: Pattern 122: Building Fronts.

9) Ibid., specifically see 740-744; Pattern 158: Open Stairs, 752-756: Pattern 160: Building Edge, and 1064-1067: Pattern 226: Column Place.

Also See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Pattern_Language (I highly recommend looking at this book if you’re interested in design for anything from cities down to individual houses, rooms, and yards.  It’s very accessible and easy and fun to read and contains about a million good and simple ideas that anyone could use, and there are a couple copies at the UBCO library.)

Uncalculated Prettiness

The architecture of Raymond Unwin represents one of Letchworth’s small triumphs.  Unwin’s working class cottage rows used the modest materials at their disposal with great economy while still maintaining a craftsman’s eye for detail and natural elements.  Unwin, as part of the 19th century arts-and-crafts movement in architecture, idealized the 14th century medieval village as “the truest community that England had ever known” (Robert Fishman), where social stability had manifested itself in a unified style of architecture that organically graced the land’s natural contours.  It expressed neither modern confusion nor the “calculated prettiness” (Fishman) of symmetrical layouts.  It also failed to accomplish any of the social changes which Ebenezer Howard had envisioned.

It is a strange irony that Barcelona’s ‘Park Guell’, planned as a gated aristocratic community of 60 houses in the first decades of the 1900s, was also commissioned as a kind of ‘Garden City’.  The park, designed by Catalan architect Antonio Gaudi, though it failed as a housing development (only 2 houses were built, one of which Gaudi lived in, and it is now a public park), represents the zenith of an architecture of natural contours.  Indeed, far more than a mere complement to natural forms, it fuses with them while it flips them on their heads; it’s the aesthetic benchmark for (surrealist) utopian medieval arts and crafts villages.

But the irony of Letchworth’s aesthetic triumphs too, as has been pointed out in class, is that Howard saw the Garden City as a vehicle for social change far more than a path to pretty parks.  Unwin’s ingenious designs remained unaffordable to the poorest workers, showing that under existing conditions, truly affordable housing required government intervention.  When the government did get on board with public housing after WWI, Unwin, to whose influence they often deferred, had abandoned Garden Cities in favor of commuter satellites, which upon completion rarely lived up to his standards.  Instead, they morphed into the thoughtless and oppressive urban sprawl which has been so well documented in the songs of the Kinks.**  One can’t help but wish that Unwin and the British government had preferred garden cities to satellites; though government-funded Garden Cities might also have ignored Howard’s social principles, their aesthetic qualities would still have trumped sub-par ‘garden sprawl’.

As for Howard’s social goals, it is interesting to note that the anarcho-communist Peter Kropotkin (1842-1921, whose ideas of “free co-operation and communal ownership”, according to Alan March, were integral to Howard’s ideas), like Unwin, idealized the European medieval village, stating that “never, either before or since, has mankind known a period of relative well-being for all as in the cities of the Middle Ages.  The poverty, insecurity, and physical exploitation of labor that exist in our times were then unknown.”*  But March points out the historic failure of modern communes under Kropotkin’s authority-jettisoning model, instead praising Howard’s well-considered, democratic compromise between communitarianism and individualism at the municipal level.  Of course, as we all know, Letchworth’s liberal-capitalist shareholders paid little heed to Howard’s democratic solutions.

Howard’s Garden City never received the support from philanthropists, radicals, or the co-op movement, which might likely have made it a success, so he compromised with his financiers, believing that the snowballing success of the Garden City was imminent.  To my mind, Howard was something of an anarchist, in that his plans implied at least a subtle erosion of authority, and at best an almost entirely cooperative city reminiscent of the “vital society of communes and free cities created by brotherhoods, guilds, and individual initiative,”* which Kropotkin believed had characterized medieval Europe.  So perhaps he would have been comforted by Herbert Read’s assertion that “the task of the anarchist philosopher is not to prove the imminence of a Golden Age, but to justify the value of believing in its possibility.”*

*These quotes are from Richard A. Falk’s essay, “Anarchism and World Order.” In Anarchism: Nomos XIX. Edited by J. Roland Pennock and John W. Chapman.  New York: New York University Press, 1978.

**Ray and Dave Davies from The Kinks grew up in the London suburb of Muswell Hill:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muswell_Hill … The spiritual malaise of suburban London was an oft-recurring theme in their songs, especially on the albums Muswell Hillbillies, and Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire), which make excellent companions when one is studying British urban planning.  The song ‘Shangri-La’ is a favorite example.

Also see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Park_Guell

Equality in Utopia?

As my focal point of interest in history is the establishment and practice of Communism in the USSR in the 20th century, I naturally find it interesting to learn about anything related to socialism and its development in the modern world.  One particular idea repeatedly piqued my interest during our discussion yesterday, and the chart drawn on the board at the conclusion of class intensified my thoughts on the matter.  I had always assumed that all socialist thinkers believed in the full equality of every individual in all aspects of life – from their societal status to the very conditions in which they lived.  I was surprised to learn that this was indeed not the case.  As written on our chart, one of Soria’s assumptions was that ‘inequality was normal and desirable’.  Furthermore, he did not strive to abolish social classes but rather to ‘introduce harmony’ between them – for example, by ending poor individuals’ resentment of the rich by giving them their own private cottages to live in.  Further yet, one of his solutions was the ‘use of private property’.  To me, these were shocking statements coming from a utopian socialist!  While, from a capitalist viewpoint, it comes as a breath of fresh air to see a socialist advocating private property and accepting the reality of societal inequality, it strikes me as rather unusual.  Moreover, his solution for introducing harmony by giving cottages to the poor seems a rather unlikely resolution – even if the poor had small dwellings to call their own, would they not still be jealous of the upper classes who had more than they did?  I question Soria’s argument in this regard.  As I see it, the abolishment of social classes is essential to the successful establishment of a harmonious socialistic society.  After all, if inequality is still present, there will always be the threat of unrest and revolt from below.  Even if true harmony is created for a short time, it cannot be expected to last permanently under such conditions.

The Prominade of the Empress.

During the Second French Empire, Napoleon III forever changed the face of Paris, when he commissioned Baron Haussmann’s transformation of Paris. However, his ambitious foreign policy also had a subtle influence on urban planning in North America. During the Second French Empire, Napoleon sought to reestablish French influence in North America. France had not held power in the New World since Napoleon I sold the territory of Louisiana to the United States in 1803. One aspect of the Emperor’s plan for expanding France’s sphere of influence involved re-instituting a monarchical form of government in Mexico. In late 1861, with the United States embroiled in a civil war, Napoleon invaded Mexico after its government announced that it would no longer be able to pay its foreign debt. France invasion was initially supported by Mexico’s other major creditors, Britain and Spain, but they withdrew once made aware of Napoleon’s plans to turn Mexico into a French satellite state. By 1863 the French army had taken the capital forcing Mexican President Juarez and his cabinet to flee north where they would maintain a government of exile until after the defeat of monarchist forces in 1867.

Once the French had wrest control of the majority of Mexico, conservatives and other members of the Mexican nobility soon offered the Mexican crown to Austrian grand duke Maximilian Ferdinand. Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico and his wife Empress Carlota arrived in 1864 and took up residence at Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City with the understanding that they would continue to be supported by the occupying French troops. The couple’s stay at the castle was brief, the Second Mexican Empire only existed for approximately three years, but during this time Maximilian had the castle remodeled in the neoclassical style that was first made popular in France during the reign of Napoleon I. Mexico’s Emperor even paid homage to the younger Bonaparte with his construction of a straight wide boulevard, modelled after the Champs-Elysees, which stretches from Chapultepec Castle to the National Palace at the centre of Mexico City. Maximilian named it for his Empress (Promenade of the Empress), but when the defeat of his Empire resulted in his death the street was renamed Paseo de la Reforma (Promenade of the Reform War). Today the boulevard is the location of many of Mexico City’s monuments including one which houses the tombs of some of the key figures in Mexico’s War of Independence, as well as, another that houses the remains of heroes of the Mexican Revolution.

Nervous Emperor Behind Haussmann’s Transformation of Paris.

Baron Georges Haussmann is one of the most influential urban planners of the 19th century. During the reign of Napoleon III, Haussmann transformed Paris from a disorganized medieval city to a modern legible city that was the envy of Europe. Many of Haussmann’s improvements in Paris were designed to protect his Emperor’s capital from rebellion. He also wanted to satisfy wealthy industrialists that sought to improve trade by better connecting Paris with the railway and thereby other of France’s industrial centres. The Baron accomplished this feat by entirely reorganizing the city’s medieval system of highways, both, within the city, as well as, those leading into and out of Paris. In terms of security, many of the complaints that had been leveled by the police and military were solved firstly by removing the slums and secondly by widening or removing many of Paris’s narrow streets. The wider streets facilitating the use of cavalry and artillery in case Parisians once again chose to riot in the streets of their city.

In spite of the fact that the majority of Haussmann’s plans for the redevelopment of Paris were designed to allow the rapid movement of men and materials around the city of Paris, its citizens were not forgotten and those who were not displaced by the changes made to the city, enjoyed improvements in sewer and drainage systems. When Napoleon was forced to dismiss Haussmann from his post in January of 1870, he had been Prefect of the Seine for seventeen years. Always the cunning and ruthless politician, it seems that Haussmann had simply made too many enemies for the Emperor to continue to protect him.

Trail BC: Gemeinschaft vs. Gesellschaft

I thought it would be interesting to revisit the concept of Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft as espoused by Ferdinand Toënnies through an examination of my home town Trail, BC. My home town provides such an interesting case study as it is distinctly rural due to its population size (7,320 as of the last census) and its distance from any large urban centre (the nearest city over 100,000 people in population is Spokane, WA); however, Trail maintains an urban look and feel due to its many distinct dense neighborhoods and the looming smoke stacks of a large industrial complex (Teck lead-zinc smelter).  Due to these apparent contradictions Trail provides an interesting lens through which to view the interplay of the concepts of Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft.

Trail exhibits elements  of Gemeinschaft through the manner in which the majority of its residents subscribe to common mores. Many residents are of Italian descent and base their social relations around the structure of the extend family, friends, and neighborhood acquaintances.  Most residents exemplify this focus on the family through the ownership and upkeep of the family home: most homes are kept tidily despite age and often feature grape arbors and brick barbeques around which families will congregate during the summer months. It is very common for families to live in the same home for two or more generations. Gemeinschaft is often exhibited through the high church attendance (especially Roman Catholic) which is a manifestation of the common focus on family life.

Gesellschaft is also readily apparent in an examination of Trail due to the heavy industrial focus of the city’s economy. The long history of the city’s smelter and its attendant labour history exhibit aspects of Gesellschaft.  Through workers’ participation in union efforts they gained class consciousness and have tried to reform the conditions of their workplace and have often violently struggled to achieve their stated goals. This class struggle was once manifested in space as members of the smelter’s management lived in comfortable homes in the exclusive Garden suburb of Tadanac while regular workers were left to procure their own housing wherever the difficult topography would allow (leaving a legacy of intimate narrow one-way streets carved with rock walls across the hill sides).

Overall, the quirky make-up of Trail could never be typified as Gemeinschaft or Gesellschaft but a tension between the two can be observed. Its many Italian residents  immigrated to the city and promptly reconstructed their ethnic identity through the preservation such traditional activities as la passeggiata (a sunset evening stroll of neighbors) and elements of folk religion; yet these same immigrant eagerly embraced the tenets of modern unionism and political activism revealing a unique urban structure that is quite atypical.


The Affects of a Global Event on an Individual City

Being a part of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics was an amazing experience. I will never forget how great it felt to be a part of such a large community, and how so many people came together to celebrate something so incredible. Plus, getting two weeks off of university classes to partake in all of the festivities wasn’t so bad either!

Vancouver, 2010 Winter Olympics

I think that the Vancouver Olympics were a global event that had a tremendous effect on the growth of the city in regards to its size and its community. The media coverage and venues that were built for the event attracted millions of people, and ultimately made the city a large amount of money. Events where the whole world is focusing in on one city can really influence the way in which a city grows. For example, the 2014 Olympics are being held in the city Sochi in Russia, a place where MasterCard was not even heard of until they began to plan for the Olympics. Such an event has allowed the city to grow in many diverse ways it may not have if they weren’t elected to host.
The Olympics placed a spotlight on the city of Vancouver and allowed aspects of its urban planning to shine. The transportation routes that were planned and executed throughout the event allowed for mass amounts of people to get to where they needed to be, very quickly. The cost was very reasonable, yet since so many people were using Vancouver transportation, the city made a lot of money off of it. Not only was the Sea to Sky Highway method of transportation in Vancouver efficient, but it allowed for a great sense of community – connecting outer parts of Vancouver to the downtown core. Everyone was there for the same reason and were able to share the experience together.

     Overall I believe that global events, such as the Olympics, are very beneficial to the growth of cities in regards to a rapid expansion in population and development for future urban planning. Not only does the city benefit financially, but it grows socially as well. I think that the 2010 Vancouver Olympics relate to our class discussions because we talk a lot about how community and transportation have a large influence on a city as a whole, and the Olympics clearly effected Vancouver in those ways. The city of Vancouver has expanded and grown to be well known to the rest of the world all thanks to the Olympics, which will have the same effects on the cities to host in the future.

The True Utopia?

After much deliberation and reading of other ideas I am still finding myself staring outside my porch door with a cup of coffee wondering what I could do to change Rutland. My answer strangely is nothing. I would love to plant trees that grow money, and pave a road that take me straight to the University without having to use highway 97 or Rutland road; these ideas however are highly unrealistic.

What I am trying to get at is as I read the articles presented within lectures examining all these different theories that strive for change, and I start to think of the possibility that there could be universal change. Change that could be presented to all major urban societies and in the end it affects them all in a positive manner. An idea, that as a whole, could not be affected by human’s or nature a like.

Much like Einstein strove to solve Unified Theory, as he chose to dismiss all claims of Qutaum mechanics, is it not possible to create a basic outline on how a city should be laid out encompassing, all natural terrain, the populations wants and needs, and human natures cruel emotions of greed and envy, all the while allowing the city to be self sustaining, and prosperous through exporting of its main industry.

It’s a wordy task, with no starting point. As a whole the checklist for the perfect urban scheme would be unfathomable, and this as a whole makes this thought an unrealistic venture. But what if it wasn’t. What if one could lay out the perfect city that could be implemented anywhere throughout the world? This then would be the creation of the true utopia.


A Fascination With Le Corbusier’s Radiant City

A snapshot of Central Park that encapsulates two of Le Corbusier’s core ideals.

Throughout the course much of the material has been very interesting however what I found to be most interesting was Le Corbusier’s Radiant City. The push towards skyscrapers and large parks was fascinating and it resonated with some of my travels on the East Coast. I always appreciated the architectural mastery of the skyscraper but I never knew how much cultural and social influence they had as well. The way in which they maximized population while minimizing space was something I never thought of a true purpose of the skyscraper. Even the criticism to Le Corbusier’s work I found interesting with many arguing that these parks that he implements are in fact much more dangerous than the slums they replaced. However one critique that I have not found much reading on is that of a Marxist critique and I wanted to give my own critique through a Marxist lens. From a Marxist point of view the skyscraper is a literal manifestation of the bourgeois being placed on a higher level than the proletariat. The CEO’s and upper management is literally above the rest of the workers looking down upon them as to assert their dominance as having more power through financial means. This applies to residential skyscrapers as well in the way that the penthouse is usually the most expensive unit on the top of the building and once again through financial means someone can be literally on top of the peoples of lesser means. Le Corbusier’s ideas are fascinating even though some of them can be seen as damaging and causing more problems than they solve, however even through the problems it cannot be denied that his ideas were revolutionary and influenced urban planning greatly in the latter half of the 20th century.

– Zach Coates