movement and settlement, upside down


Last week, I participated in the Project for Public Spaces’ Placemaking Leadership Council inaugural meeting in Detroit. The event left several impressions, among them a real concern about accuracy in recounting what I saw.

In 2009, I tried to add my two cents about Detroit from a Seattle perspective in Crosscut, without the benefit of first-hand knowledge. In retrospect, nice try. Often, the complexity of urban evolution is better summarized in a single image like the one above.

As I note in Urbanism Without Effort (Island Press, 2013, pending this month), in The City in History, Lewis Mumford framed the universal dynamic of movement and settlement in cities of any era.

In January 2012, here, I suggested with an image of a “walkable Pompeii” that application of the urban dynamic of movement and settlement need not be static, and often shows ironic reapplication over time.

Similarly, in the above image of home and street, a lone figure moves across empty infrastructure in front of settlement that is no more.

To me, the remaining question is simple. What’s next?

I’ll offer that very few of us really know enough to answer.

Image composed by the author in Detroit. Click on each image for more detail. © 2009-2013 myurbanist. All Rights Reserved. Do not copy.

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