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The Art of Cities

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The Art of Cities

A panoramic view of downtown Chicago.

A 19th-century plan of Baltimore, USA. Note the grid-pattern streets, now associated with North American cities.

Cities, the central fixtures of our very civilization, are home to a vast portion of the world's population. They bring together people, commerce and industry. Since ancient times, people have built settlements - simply because they are far better for business than isolated, singular homes. But what are the planning, design and architectural considerations which need to be taken into account to make them truly work? What would the ideal suburb look like? How far should the nearest train station be? Easy-to-navigate grids or interesting and endlessly variable cul-de-sacs and curved streets?

These and similar concerns have vexed city planners for centuries, and the results have been as numerous as they have been amazingly varied. An endless variation on the city theme: central business districts with high-rise glass temples of commerce, leafy suburbs just a subway ride from the city and endless highways which snake from district to district.

This book aims to explain some of the thousands of tribulations regarding city design, from major points like street layouts to seemingly trivial concerns such as urban beautification. The topic is vast, but the study of where we live is one that is perhaps universally important.


Civic Square in Wellington, New Zealand. This is a classic example of a modern city square.

Part One: Zoning

  • What is Zoning?
  • Major Zoning Models

Part Two: Transportation

  • Roads and Streets
  • Highways
  • Public Transport
  • Airports and Seaports
  • The Street Plan

Part Three: Civic Buildings

  • Types of Civic Buildings
  • Clustering
  • Positioning

Part Four: Suburbia

  • The Rise of Suburbia
  • What Suburbs Are Not
  • Positioning
  • The Pricing Problem

Part Five: Beautification

  • Why is Beautification Needed?
  • Necessities
  • Luxuries
  • Styles