Book description

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eBook formatPaperback, (torrent)En
PublisherVan Nostrand Reinhold Company
File size1.8 Mb
Release date 01.01.1982
Pages count351
Book rating4.3 (30 votes)
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For anyone who has been wondering what American cities are coming to, STREETS FOR PEOPLE is a book he cannot afford to miss. Although "environmental studies" are the rage of the day, planners have been unable to arrest the disintegration of urban America; architects have often speeded it. STREETS FOR PEOPLE helps the reader to understand where things went wrong. For Americans are stubbornly putting their faith in projects and budgets with never a thought of exercising their individual duties as city dwellers. It never occurs to them that a town is not the result of a design program but the reflection of the inhabitants' way of life.

So far, the street, the very lifeline of urban civilization, has not even come in for scrutiny. People have let their cities' streets degenerate into highways, indifferent to the cost in human dignity and happiness which this entails. To make the reader realize the wretchedness of his native habitat, the author introduces him to the unexplored world of civilized streets by means of examples from a dozen countries. Italy yields the greatest variety; just as her towns have always counted among the glories of man's enterprise, her pedestrian street is the touchstone of urbanity. By discovering its amenities, the reader may feel he has been cheated out of pleasures he has never known or suspected.

For instructions and entertainment the author throws in a short cultural history of the street. He discusses the fine art of walking and other performing arts; street theater and street concerts of the past and present; the prevalence of Italian street scenes in Shakespeare's plays; playgrounds in American cities; the covered street, a commodity desirable, indeed indispensable, in every kind of climate. Sidewalk cafes and outdoor restaurants are examined for their merits, and so are pubic fountains and urinals. A survey of the street's temporary attractions includes processions, parades, the inundation of streets and squares in Baroque Rome (for coolness and for the fun of it), American block parties, and the perennial charm of street decorations in Latin countries and in the Far East.

Without proffering panaceas or theories, this admirably illustrated book opens new vistas to the reader that he will not be able to put out of his mind. STREETS FOR PEOPLE weighs his chances for a utopian U.S.A. where pedestrians will be safe from the hazards of traffic and from each other; where the street will be the great educator and entertainer; where everybody will enjoy privileges and pleasures that are taken for granted in most civilized countries.

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