History Peter Hall Cities In Civilization

ISBN 13: 9780297842194

Cities In Civilization

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9780297842194: Cities In Civilization

The product of over a decade's research and writing, Peter Hall's magnum opus explores the history of cities and their role in the development of civilisation from the cultural crucibles of Athens in the sixth century BC to the city as freeway, Los Angeles. A major book which will stand alongside such successful works of popular scholarship as Simon Schama's Citizens, Rob Hughes The shock of the New Orlando Figes' A peoples tragedy.

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Every golden age has been an urban age; throughout history, cities have provided a crucible for creativity. How do such belles époquescome about? Why should the creative flame burn so uniquely in cities and not in the countryside, and why does the creative and innovative spirit of one city inevitably yield to another? Cities in Civilization explores these issues and others related to the central role of cities, past and present, in the fostering of artistic, philosophical, scientific, and technological genius.

Peter Hall devoted 15 years of his life conceptualizing, researching, and writing Cities in Civilization. His extraordinary efforts are apparent in the analytical scope, historical depth, and sheer length of the book, which, including photographs and a bibliography, is well over 1,000 pages. Supporting his argument with ample reference to dates, historical figures, and citations of leading urban scholars, the book does not lend itself to casual, cover-to-cover reading. Despite the book's length, though, it remains easy to navigate through the case studies of individual cities. Hall systematically divides the text into five thematic chapters, further subdividing each chapter chronologically by city. The chapters explore themes of cultural creativity, technological and economic innovation, the urban fusion of art and technology, urban innovation, and the partnership of the private and public sector to promote urban development and regeneration.

Breaking from other leading scholars in the field, Hall does not consider the great city doomed. Instead, Cities in Civilization testifies to his confidence that cities of the 21st century, like the great cities of the past, will successfully work to solve their own problems and ameliorate their own ills. --Bertina Loeffler

From the Inside Flap:

Ranging over 2,500 years, Cities in Civilization is a tribute to the city as the birthplace of Western civilization. Drawing on the contributions of economists and geographers, of cultural, technological, and social historians, Sir Peter Hall examines twenty-one cities at their greatest moments. Hall describes the achievements of these golden ages and outlines the precise combinations of forces -- both universal and local -- that led to each city's belle epoque.

Hall identifies four distinct expressions of civic innovation: artistic growth, technological progress, the marriage of culture and technology, and solutions to evolving problems. Descriptions of Periclean Athens, Renaissance Florence, Elizabethan London, and nineteenth-century Vienna bring to life those seedbeds of artistic and intellectual creativity. Explorations of Manchester during the Industrial Revolution, of Henry Ford's Detroit, and of Palo Alto at the dawn of the computer age highlight centers of technological advances. Tales of the creation of Los Angeles' movie industry and the birth of the blues and rock 'n' roll in Memphis depict the marriage of culture and technology.

Finally, Hall celebrates cities that have been forced to solve problems created by their very size. With Imperial Rome came the apartment block and aqueduct; nineteenth-century London introduced policing, prisons, and sewers; twentieth-century New York developed the skyscraper; and Los Angeles became the first city without a center, a city ruled instead by the car. And in a fascinating conclusion, Hall speculates on urban creativity in the twenty-first century.

This penetrating study reveals not only the lives of cities but also the lives of the people who built them and created the civilizations within them. A decade in the making, Cities in Civilization is the definitive account of the culture of cities.

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Hall, Peter
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