— Field Notes

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Urban

From Mike Davis’s crucial book (2006)

shape of the city:
“the cities of the future, rather than being made out of glass and steel as envisioned by earlier generations of Urbanists, are instead largely constructed out of crude brick, straw, recycled plastic, cement blocks, and scrap wood. Instead of cities of light soaring toward heaven, much of the twenty-first-century urban world squats in squalor, surrounded by pollution, excrement, and decay.”

 

informal workers:

“a billion people currently live in slums and more than a billion people are informal workers, struggling for survival…the entire future growth of humanity will occur in cities, overwhelmingly poor cities, and the majority of it in slums.”

"The informal sector generates jobs not by elaborating new divisions of labour, but by fragmenting existing work, and thus subdividing incomes." 

Benefits of density:

“Urban density can translate into great efficiencies in land, energy and resource use, while democratic public spaces and cultural institutions likewise provide qualitatively higher standards of enjoyment than individualized consumption and commodified leisure.”

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It has neither name nor place. I shall repeat the reason I was describing it to you: from the number of imaginable cities we must exclude those whose elements are assembled without a connecting thread, an inner rule, a perspective, a discourse. With cities, it is as with dreams: everything imaginable can be dreamed, but even the most unexpected dream is a rebus that conceals a desire or, its reverse, a fear. Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else.

~Italo Calvino

Invisible Cities ~ (tr. William Weaver) ~ San Diego : Harcourt Brace, 1974 / pg 44

Via the quotation Blog:  The Infinite Conversation

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My city Seattle began in 1851 with the landing of the Denny Party at what is now called Alki  Point, at the time (1851)dennycabin it was named Prairie Point  (by the Indians in their language sbaqWabaqs).  There was a large population of indigenous people living around Puget Sound,  the Indians of the Seattle area were made up generally of three groups, the Duwamish, the Shilshole  and the Lakes people. The land and water was bountiful and the people here prosperous by their standards till Europeans and Americans from the East arrived and the quick decline started. The worst influence of course was disease. During the 1770s, smallpox (variola major) eradicates at least 30 percent of the native population on the Northwest coast of North America, including numerous members of Puget Sound tribes.

In 1851 the first settlement was begun here in Seattle, by the Denny Party. Arthur  Denny describes the  arrival of the Denny Parties thus in his journal:

Soon after we landed and begun to clearing the ground for our buildings they commenced to congregate, and continued coming until we had  over a thousand in our midst, and most of them remained all winter. Some of them built their houses very near to ours, even on ground we had cleared, and although they seemed very friendly toward us we did not feel safe in objecting to their building near to us for fear of offending them.

– from Arthur Denny Pioneer Days on Puget Sound

The mythic image of the birth of Seattle is a small group of white settlers in a cold foreboding land with a sprinkling of native people here and there. This seems to be wrong, there was a large community of indigenous people in the Puget Sound surrounds.  That would quickly change as more and more settlers arrived. Two worlds were in collision and the indigenous was being replaced by the settlers.

It seems like an important part of our local history is lost and obscured by myths that support the new regime, to understand our community now we need to know what was here before and what we replaced.

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From Where we live Now

The city’s richness cannot be gleaned from any critical distance, but needs a body drawn through it, like some kind of wrecking ball, to crack open it’s meanings. Insight sparks from this collision, or it adheres  to it, like opium scraped from the legs of naked children set running through poppy fields.

- Matthew Stadler

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Going to New York this week I am keeping a list of links and place to visit here. Please add your suggestions in the comments field.

  • Manhattan Subway Map
  • Fernandez& Wells – Lexington near Beak in Soho deli
  • MoCCA – Broadway & E Houston
  • BH Photo – 420 9th between 33rd and 34th
  • il Laboratorio del Gelato 95 Orchard St. between Broome & Delancey St
  • Jacques Torres D.U.M.B.O. 66 Water Street, Brooklyn
  • The Levain Bakery – 74th and Amsterdam
  • Zabar’s 2245 Broadway (@ 80th Street) Food Emporium
  • Magnolia Bakery

Book Stores

  • Kitchen Arts and Letters – 1435 Lexington Ave 10128
  • Strand Book Store – 828 Broadway at 12th
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