Cities are more important as cultural entities than their mere function as dormitories and industrial sites. Yet, the understanding of what makes a city ‘alive’ and appealing in cultural terms is still hotly contested - why are some cities so much more interesting, popular and successful than others? In this engaging discussion in the text City Life, Adrian Franklin takes the reader on a tour of contemporary western cities exploring their historical development and arguing that it is the transformative, ritual and performative qualities of successful cities that makes a difference. Emphasizing the importance of experience, the book represents the fluid complexity of the city as a living space, an environment and a posthumanist space of transformation. It will be of interest to all those engaging with the difficulties of urban life in sociology, human geography, tourism and cultural studies departments.
Chapter 1: The Traditional City
The Traditional City
I am standing on the battlements of the impressive Norman-built city walls looking into the city of Canterbury, Kent, in the south of England. The walls, constructed by an organised system of civic contributions (murage) in the eleventh century, were placed there to protect its citizens and preserve the local faction of Norman power. The walls were made of flint and each flint was carefully shaped to expose would-be assailants to its many razor-sharp edges. It is hard to think of any modern material that could be more effective – and last so long – for these flints still have a keen edge. (City Life observation notebooks)
This massive effort and expense by the citizens of Canterbury was not excessive. It ...