The City in History

The distillation of years of research, study, reflection and writing — and the fulfillment of the promise of The Culture of Cities, The City in History of Lewis Mumford will challenge, disturb and inform all who come to grips with its thesis and development. Virtually, here- through the central theme of the city- is world history. It is far more than the study of urban culture through the ages. It is a revitalization of civilizations- with focus particularly on the Minoan and Mycenaean cultures of ancient Greece, the age of Pericles, the disintegration of the Hellenistic period, and the deterioration when Rome took over.

According to Mumford, the emergence of the Christian culture, the role of monasticism, the struggle of the Middle Ages against the barbarians and how the urban movement was reborn out of insecurity. We then see through his book Romanesque Europe, we study medieval town planning, the Baroque of the 16th and 17th centuries and the mercantile capitalism that emerged supreme. His final section forms a chant of dismay and discouragement- but not, finally, of despair, over the advance of urbanism gluttonously embracing all outlying districts, turning men into machines. But in the shadows he sees glimmers of hope, that the very instruments of our destruction can be turned around to be instruments of salvation, and that the “One World Man” can be the goal of the future city:- “that of creating a visible regional and civic structure designed to make man at home with his deeper self and his larger world”.

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Excellent documentary from the 30’s