how attention to overlays enhances our understanding of cities

Second in the new series, in the urban world, juxtapositions matter


On New Year’s Day, I suggested that juxtapositions, or overlays, are key to an understanding of cities, and offer focal points for discussion and resolution. The first example was of a physical juxtaposition that evoked the classic contrasts of old and new, nature and the built environment and natural and artificial light.

Today’s example bridges other urban qualities.

The photograph above is an intentional contrast of a static place and movements of both bus and musician. It also shows the common incursion of simple commerce in a public place—a subject of evolving regulatory focus in American cities—and an overlap that we should approach with a catalog of such imagery in mind.

Finally, the photograph suggests once again that the core of urban understanding is often in the small vignettes we all experience everyday—which, as I have often written, supply the basis for our own perspectives about city life.

Image composed by the author in Seattle. Click on the image for more detail. © 2009-2014 myurbanistAll Rights Reserved. Do not copy.

For more information on the role of personal experience in understanding the changing city, see Urbanism Without Effortan e-book from Island Press.

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