What I’m Reading: History and the City

There is a lot of great stuff being written every day.  I can’t blog about it all. But I do want to highlight some themes that emerged from this week and then provide a brief summary below. This week’s theme:

History and the City

From Horse Power to Horsepower is an article I stumbled upon. Its an engaging look into urban life in the pre-automobile age. The article is a trove of stats. For example, almost 3 billion flies hatched per in horse manure in the US in 1900, or in 1880 New York City carted 15,000 dead horses from the street everyday.  I highly recommend you give it a read. It will cure any nostalgia you might have about living in a 19th century city.

The Global Urbanist calls for looking into the past for lessons on urban reform.  argues that the means and ends of 20th century reforms resemble are own. For example, tactical urbanist has much in common with the early 20th century playground movement who similarly attempted to convert under utilized space for neighbourhood needs. Take a look and discover what we have in common with reforms a 100 years ago.

Lastly, an article on Denver’s LoDo provides a great example of how historic preservation can be used to create a sense of place and generate real estate value and economic growth. LoDo (Lower Downtown) went from being systematically demolished for parking in the 1980s to one of the most popular and successful urban neighborhoods in the Rocky Mountain region.

So to sum it up, this week I learned the past was harsh, has much to teach us, and left us a flexible and valuable legacy.