Exploring the Urban Past: Essays in Urban History by H. J. by David Cannadine, David Reeder

By David Cannadine, David Reeder

Throughout the Nineteen Sixties and Seventies, the expansion of curiosity within the city prior used to be the most famous advancements in ancient reviews within the uk. largely, this used to be as a result of the paintings of the overdue H. J. Dyos, Professor of city heritage on the collage of Leicester, as instructor, author and propagandist. This booklet brings jointly a few of Dyos's most crucial and influential essays, written over approximately thirty years. At one point, this ebook can be learn as a becoming memorial to the paintings, impression and writings of a prime historian; at one other, it furnishes an crucial advisor to the learn of city improvement and the nineteenth-century urban and to the viewpoint which that examine offers at the city current.

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We are daily made aware of such social discrepancies, and of their alarming tendency to increase almost as fast as the economic growth of the most rapidly expanding economies. We are also made aware of the effects of the 'filthy and polluting cities' upon the whole ecological balance of the inhabited globe. But I am far from wanting to press on you a view of the pathological condition of latterday urbanity as its normative condition. I only mention these dysfunctional aspects of urban economies at this point to suggest, however tentatively, the lengths to which even a relatively narrowly conceived costbenefit analysis of the city as a generalised phenomenon in contemporary life would have to go if it is to have any real meaning.

The quality of urban life which we seek cannot, except in a very limited sense, be quantified. It says something for the affective conditioning of large areas of Victorian life that the Victorians' chief sense of fact was numerical, that they should have felt compelled to quantify their qualitative statements about urban society above all. The city has always had an inexorable calculus. But numbers have no feelings and are at best mere explanatory agents. What satisfactions and hurts, what sense of community or deprivation, what consciousness of beauty or ugliness or merely of environment and actuality, stirred those very countable people we long to know.

3 Whether we have the same gut reactions or not, here is a type of urban existence we can still recognise, a type of urbanity - a type of sub-urbanity, if you like - in which the city is not the deliverer of mankind but the destroyer, literally as well as figuratively. I do not have the time to explore at all searchingly the imagery of the city which would project both this feeling for the city and a contrary one. Without both caritas and cupiditas-lhe city four-square and the city of destruction - the perspective is distorted.

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