The Public Realm and the Good City

By Suzanne H. Crowhurst Lennard, Ph.D.(Arch.), Director, IMCL

For decades, the significance of public urban places and their role in facilitating public life was ignored by those responsible for shaping the modern city. It was only when cities all over the world were inundated by cars and threatened by the loss of the public realm, that the subject was rediscovered by scholars, political leaders and professionals in Europe and North America.[1]

 

Social life in public

Throughout most of history, public places in cities have significantly contributed to urban life. In the beginning, people came together for social reasons[2]. Later, public places also assumed religious, civic and market functions.

In the Middle Ages, social, economic and religious life happened in the city’s squares and streets, in places adjacent to the cathedral or important civic buildings, and on the streets where people lived, and where shops and workshops were located.

With the advent of the automobile, squares and streets became receptacles for the movement and storage of the car, making public places useless for social and civic functions. This trend was largely reversed, especially during the 1970s, when cars were excluded from central parts of hundreds of European cities and towns. Nonetheless, the automobile is still an important presence and burden on the streets of most European, as well as North American cities.

Significance

The term “public realm” is used frequently and loosely by urban professionals. The terms public domain, public realm, public life are here meant to refer to the social processes among city inhabitants that occur in public places. It is in the public places of cities, its squares and streets accessible to all of the city’s inhabitants, that all can see and hear each other. Here, persons different from one another, and present in public places for diverse purposes can come together. In the public realm, many perspectives and the common world may be found; within the public realm, young and old may learn about, and from each other.

The public realm is the opposite of the private world of the family, of closed societies or clubs; in these groups there is the amplification of one point of view; its members speak with one voice. But in the public realm, “Being seen and heard by others derive their significance from the fact that everybody sees and hears from a different position. This is the meaning of public life, compared to which even the richest and most satisfying family life can offer only the prolongation or multiplication of one’s own position.”[3]

Among the most moving experiences of some city dwellers are those that occur in the public places of their cities, when participating on foot in religious ceremonies, or civic celebrations or festivals. The inhabitants of certain cities look forward to the great occasions of public life from childhood onward. In other cities, especially in North America, there is little tradition of occasions and shared community events that occur in their public places.

A recognition of the desire for public life and its benefits have led to efforts to create public plazas in North American cities. Over recent decades, these efforts are improving, but many of the 20th century plazas are based on a shallow and sanitized model of public life.

The public domain does not mean the absence of unpleasantness or conflict. Indeed, coming to terms with the presence of different, strange, and sometimes troublesome people is essential to a viable and creative public life. The public domain involves a tension between strangeness and familiarity, activity and idleness, purposeful and purposeless behavior.[4]

Diverse people in the public realm

Urban populations throughout the world are becoming more diverse. It is in the public domain that young and old, well to do and poor, people with differing ethnic backgrounds, residents and tourists come together. Withdrawing from such encounters, into a familiar world of people similar to oneself abets the inability to be with human beings different from ourselves.

This withdrawal into the familiar, private world has been caused by the creation of suburbs and urban sprawl. While the absence of common ground is disadvantageous for the humanity of all, it is especially disastrous for children and youth, who are left without places for learning how to relate to other human beings, whether older adults, strangers, or persons unfamiliar in dress, or ways of behaving.

For those interested in the varieties, nuances and pleasures of life in public much can be learned from the observations of great writers. Goethe and Howells describe the ambience of the Venetian campo, Baudelaire observes the Parisian in public, and E.T.A. Hoffmann delights with a detailed account of transactions, encounters and intrigues among vendors and customers of Bamberg’s daily famers’ market observed from his window overlooking the square.

People Watching

Human beings require and depend on contact with other human beings. It is self evident that to be in the presence of other human beings is reassuring! Perceiving their presence – through looking, hearing and touching – enables all to experience themselves as less alone.

Other people become a source of wonderment and fantasy. What are their origins, purposes and possible future relationships? At times they challenge familiar beliefs regarding how one should act or look. Despite such critical reactions the onlookers become reconciled or even appreciate the fact of such differences. As Barbara Ward writes: “This is the essence of what Doctor Johnson and James Boswell felt to be the greatest gift of cities – ‘the whole of human life in all its variety’ – the possibility of mixing cultures and experience and even dimly perceiving, under all the quirks and oddities of human behavior, an underlying shared humanity.”[5]

Often, persons watch others together with friends and acquaintances. Observing together creates a bond among the onlookers and a basis for an interchange of comments and judgments. Both men and women survey passers-by as potential partners or simply enjoy watching attractive or interesting individuals. Older people are reminded of themselves when observing the young, or perhaps pass moral or aesthetic judgments on them. But, whatever the reactions, observation of life in public serves as a catalyst for memory and fantasy.

People-watching and being on display

Persons sit or walk in public in order to be seen, to display particular attire, and thus to impress an imagined or real audience. They wish to be identified as a member of a group, or try out a special role.

Meeting in Public

Public places offer many opportunities for informal and unplanned meetings of friends, neighbors, coworkers, and acquaintances of all kinds. Depending on the types of public spaces that exist in a city or a town, public life is facilitated or inhibited. In the Venetian campo, those living in the area adjacent to the campo shop, take coffee, buy newspapers, while other Venetians living elsewhere pass through the campo on their way to work. In this urban space persons encounter each other many times during the day. When persons who know each other meet, they greet each other and if time permits, brief conversations ensue. Here, even casual acquaintances become familiar figures in one’s everyday life, while the unique geography of Venice brings about multiple casual meetings in the course of each day.

Unplanned meetings in public

Public places are chosen as well for prearranged meetings of relatives, friends, neighbors, fellow students, co-workers and members of one’s social circles. Time and place of meeting is arranged in advance, or individuals may seek out public places knowing that they will meet there the persons they wish to see at certain times during the day.

For many persons, especially the young, such contacts and meetings would be difficult or even impossible were it not for usable public places, especially since private housing is often not adequate to accommodate each family member’s acquaintances and friends. The availability of a place to meet encourages the getting together of old and young, of friends and neighbors, office workers, laborers, housewives and the retired. Relationships suffer if there are not adequate places for their enactment. Meeting others in public reinforces a sense of place, a sense of ownership and identification with the preferred public place, so that in a sense it begins to belong to the permanent users.

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Significant Conversation

The dialogue is one of the ultimate expressions of life in the city; the delicate flower of its long vegetative growth . . . and if provision for dialogue and drama, in all their ramifications, is one of the essential offices of the city, then one key to urban development should be plain – it lies in the widening of the circle of those capable of participating in it . . . In a sense the dramatic dialogue is both the fullest symbol and the final justification of the city’s life. For the same reason, the most revealing symbol of the city’s failure, of its very non-existence as a social personality is the absence of dialogue – not necessarily a silence, but equally the loud sound of a chorus uttering the same words in cowed if complacent conformity . . .

From Lewis Mumford, The City in History. pp. 116-118

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Significant Conversation

Being in public promotes significant conversation with other human beings. Conversation reinforces involvement with others and provides opportunities for the transmission of information. In these conversations in public, information is exchanged about each other’s lives and about persons known to those engaged in conversation. Many intimate details about family life, work situation, state of health, finances, plans and hopes of all kinds become public knowledge among permanent users of public spaces. Information exchange helps maintain kinship and friendship networks and thus cements the social bonds among members of a community.

Significant conversation

Indeed, as the social philosopher Hannah Arendt explains, it is only by speaking about the world to one another that “we humanize what is going on in the world and in ourselves.” “For the world is not humane just because it is made by human beings, and it does not become humane just because the human voice sounds in it, but only when it had become the object of discourse.”

Sometimes, conversation in public is disparaged as merely “gossip.” However, gossiping about persons also expresses a community of interest, concern, or curiosity about those gossiped about – while it serves to increase the awareness of their lives.

Engaging in conversation with a wide range of other people increases competence to communicate with young and old, intimates, casual acquaintances, or strangers whatever their social backgrounds, or viewpoint.

When we are brought together with a variety of others we practice our social interactive skills – of being able to make contact and communicate with a wide range of people, among them many with whom we do not ordinarily associate in the other domains of everyday social life.

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Dialogue and Humanness

When . . . we read in Aristotle that philia, friendship among citizens, is one of the fundamental requirements for the well-being of the city, we tend to think that he was speaking of no more than the absence of factions and civil war within it. But for the Greeks the essence of friendship consisted in discourse. They held that only the constant interchange of talk united citizens in poles. In discourse the political importance of friendship, and the humanness peculiar to it, were made manifest. This converse (in contrast to the intimate talk in which individuals speak about themselves), permeated though it may be by pleasure in the friend’s presence, is concerned with the common world, which remains “inhuman” in a very literal sense unless it is constantly talked about by human beings. For the world is not humane just because it is made by human beings, and it does not become humane just because the human voice sounds in it, but only when it has become the object of discourse. However much we are affected by the things of the world, however deeply they may stir and stimulate us, they become human for us only when we can discuss them with our fellows. Whatever cannot become the object of discourse – the truly sublime, the truly horrible or the uncanny – may find a human voice through which to sound into the world, but it is not exactly human. We humanize what is going on in the world and in ourselves only by speaking of it, and in the course of speaking of it we learn to be human.

The Greeks called this humanness which is achieved in the discourse of friendship philanthropic “love of man,” since it manifests itself in a readiness to share the world with other men. Its opposite, misanthropy, means simply that the misanthrope finds no one with whom he cares to share the world, that he regards nobody as worthy of rejoicing with him in the world and nature and the cosmos.

Hannah Arendt, Men in Dark Times, N.Y., Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc. 1968. pp. 24-25.

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Models of Social Life

Behavior is learned through observation and participation. The public realm provides a great many examples and models on how persons relate with those of different social backgrounds, those of different temperament, and with the physically and mentally well or disabled.

It is especially important for children to be exposed to a diversity of people, to observe a range of models of how people relate, and to learn from the skills and flexibility from those they observe.

Socializing children

It is not well understood how many people are required to provide suitable models for the socialization of children. Social skills of talking, initiating and maintaining contact, negotiating differences, taking pleasure in social relationships, cannot be acquired only from one’s family, especially not from families who are already deficient in their verbal and social repertoire.

Major social problems are directly linked to the impoverishment of the public realm, to the absence of good models of relationships, and to the lack of practice and skills in human discourse. Poor and problem prone people concentrated in large scale housing projects do not have the opportunity to observe more effective ways for the socialization of children, or to experience and practice social relationship skills.

The use of physical violence as a preferred mode for settling differences may well be due to a lack of knowledge and competence of other ways of making one’s position known and achieving the ends sought.

Drug users frequently attribute involvement with addictive drugs such as heroin, to an inability to talk and relate to their peers, or strangers. Interestingly, group meetings where members learn the skills of self-expression, conversation and dialogue are a central focus of life in therapeutic communities.

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The Daily Rhythm of a Public Place:

Plaza Mayor, Salamanca

Early in the morning, Salamanca’s Plaza Mayor is relatively quiet: men, women and students pass through the plaza on their way to work or school, some stopping at one of the cafes for coffee, a sweet roll, and conversation. During mid-morning housewives shopping for fish, meat, cheeses and groceries in the enclosed market just east of Plaza Mayor continue their shopping in the drapery and hardware shops on the west side of the square, or take a coffee break with friends.

By noon the square begins to fill with the men of Salamanca: they arrive singly or in groups, very quickly forming larger clusters as they become engrossed in conversation. Some groups stroll back and forth, pausing occasionally as the discussion becomes more intense. Others gather around the benches, or at the main entrances. By 12:30 the voices have risen to a crescendo; but as men drift home for lunch and siesta, those remaining in the plaza are mainly the tourists.

The plaza comes to life again around 5:00 p.m. Now the main actors are mothers pushing prams, toddlers and little children. The children are beautifully dressed, with shiny shoes, freshly pressed pants or long ruffled skirts. They play, talk, and laugh, or run around the square, and some are treated to ice cream by their aunts and grandmothers sitting at the cafes. As the evening begins, young working fathers appear on the scene, sometimes alone pushing a pram, sometimes in the company of their wives and other family members.

By 8:00 p.m. the crowd is at its peak, with people of every age and background. Men and women in about equal numbers, babies, children, elderly people, students and tourists intermingle. People in wheelchairs have easy access to the plaza, and many can be seen at this time; but most dramatic is the “baby parade” of dozens of baby carriages.

During dinner time, (which, in Spain, only begins after 9:00 p.m.) the plaza empties out again, only to take on a new character around 11:00 p.m. Around midnight, the plaza belongs to young people, full of energy, singing or dancing in groups around the square.

At midnight one summer evening in the center of Plaza Mayor a choral group of young men gathered in a circle to chant a hymnal into the dark night. At the same moment, beneath a lamp at a corner of the square, ten teenage girls were dancing a tight formation Spanish dance, throwing back their heads, flicking their wrists, and stamping to the accompaniment of the fast rhythmic clapping of the surrounding women.

Fascinating, too, was a group of young men, students from the Music Academy, dressed in medieval style black velvet doublet and breeches slashed with yellow linings, and large soft black velvet berets. One wore a calf length velvet cloak with a shawl of blue and white ribbons, and most carried a medieval style musical instrument – mandolin, drum, pipe, bandurria, tambourine or guitar. After playing together in the plaza they were preparing to spend the rest of the night carousing and serenading beneath the windows of their women friends. Indeed, anyone who happened to be in the plaza at 8:30 a.m. the next morning could see the minstrels stumbling home, exhausted and a little drunk, but still full of song.

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Multiple Perspectives

In most social transactions, especially in the modern world, persons relate to each other within one relationship only. Indeed it is often difficult for participants in social settings to distinguish the person from the position occupied in the particular setting. Some persons find it oppressive to be identified with one particular role only (e.g. clerk, waiter, maid, etc.). Most persons are involved in multiple relationships and experience themselves as having an identity beyond a particular role function. Being in public increases opportunities for persons to relate in a diversity of relationships and to display different aspects of themselves.

Persons meet and interact in public as friends, neighbors, parents, co-workers, business associates, or simply as co-users of common public space. Being in public, therefore, enables people to be recognized and validated as complete human beings. The corner grocery clerk who spends much time in his neighborhood public places – whether in Venice or Siena – may also be observed in his roles as a father and husband, an informal discussant of public issues, a musician in a band, and occasionally as a cook at a community celebration.

Most behavior in public is not confined to specific tasks. People are together to enjoy food or drink, to rest, to meet relatives and friends, to talk and to participate in political events, celebrations, entertainment, and ceremonial occasions. During many social occasions and especially while participating in festivities and entertainment, persons interact in a spontaneous and playful manner. They become actors in the theatrical setting of public places, dancing or singing, or become fascinated spectators of impromptu street theatre, or of organized musical of dramatic events.

Providing the opportunity to be with others in a playful and joyous mode is a contribution made by good public spaces towards the well-being of their users. Persons relating to one another in different modes in public may subsequently be less likely to be confused with only one particular social position.

Visibility

A characteristic of social life in public places is its visibility. Most of what transpires among people is visible to all.

Sometimes, the appearance or demeanor of others challenges deeply held premises. These reactions to strange or different persons will, under favorable circumstances, lead to a search for the reasons for the observed differences. When persons share public spaces on a continuing basis some social contact ensues, and eventually people become reconciled to the diversity of persons encountered.

The physically and mentally challenged are part of the human family

Since all are visible to all, those fellow human being who are often ignored – the physically or mentally challenged – become more visible in their suffering, and their human qualities become more recognizable. They, too, to quote Martin Buber, “wish to be confirmed in their being by others, and wish to have a presence in the being of the other.”[6]

The presence of even the “undesirables” forces all co-users of public places to come to terms with their own reactions to the fate of fellow beings, and to face their own fears and uncertainties on how to act or relate to such persons.

In the public realm there appear both “civil courage and solidarity, and in extreme situations a willingness to sacrifice – as well as egoism and meanness.”[7]

It becomes difficult to shut out the strange and the stranger from awareness. As Martin Buber, perhaps the most perceptive observer of the human encounter, points out, “I usually do not see or hear the other because I know that if I were really to see or hear the plight of the other, I would have to do something about it.”

To remove from the public realm those who tax patience and capacity for empathy is in the long run detrimental to all involved. It is immensely important to those who have lost everything to know that they are still accepted and acknowledged as members of the human family; and those who do acknowledge and help someone in need know well that they gain more from the act of giving.

To remove the homeless from sight is detrimental to all

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Observing Public Life

The short story “My Cousin’s Corner Window” by E.T.A. Hoffmann not only offers some of the finest descriptions of social life in public, but also directs the reader how to become an astute observer of the subtleties of social life.

During a visit to his cousin who lives in an apartment overlooking the market place (based on E.T.A. Hoffmann’s own dwelling overlooking Bamberg’s market), the author is taught by his cousin how to observe figures in the crowd, and to understand from their dress, actions and attitudes towards others who they are, why they are there, and what their relationships are to one another. He is teaching his cousin the art of seeing.

. . . my cousin’s lodgings are in the most attractive part of our capital city, overlooking the big market square. The house stands on a corner, and from the window of a tiny room he can overlook the entire panorama of the splendid square at a single glance.

“Why,” called my cousin, as I entered the tiny room, “here you are at last . . . this window is my comfort; it is here that life in all is color has been revealed to me anew, and I feel at home with its incessant activity. Come, cousin, look outside! . . . Let me see if I can’t teach you at least the rudiments of the art of seeing. Look directly down into the street – here are my field-glasses . . .”

ME. Why, what a slender, dainty figure! Young, stepping lightly, and facing the world with a bold and unabashed look: someone for whom the sun is always shining and the air is always filled with merry music. With what an audacious, carefree air she trips towards the crowd! The maidservant following her with the shopping-basket seems no older than she, and there is a certain cordiality linking the two. The young lady is dressed in very pretty things, her shawl is in the latest fashion. Her hat matches her morning costume, her dress has a tasteful pattern. Everything about her is pretty and decent . . . Oh dear. What do I see? The young lady is wearing white silk shoes. Cast-off dancing-pumps in the market! Indeed, the more I look at this girl, the more I notice something peculiar, which I cannot put into words. She certainly seems to be doing her shopping with care and diligence: she always chooses and haggles, she speaks and gesticulates with a vivacity that comes close to excitement; but I have the feeling that she wants to buy something else besides her household needs.

MY COUSIN. Bravo, bravo, cousin! Your eyes are getting sharper, I see. Just look, my dear fellow: despite her modest dress, and leaving aside the lightness and frivolity of everything about her, the fact that she is wearing white silk shoes to market ought to have told you that the young lady belongs to the ballet, or some other branch of the theatre. As for the other things she’s looking for, I expect we’ll soon find out – yes, right enough! Look up the street, dear cousin, a little to the right, and tell me whom you see on the pavement outside the hotel, where there are not many people about?

ME. I see a tall, slim youth in a short yellow pea-jacket with a black collar and steel buttons. He is wearing a small red cap with silver embroidery, under which his fine dark curls spill forth almost too luxuriantly. The expression of his handsome, pale, thoroughly masculine face is considerably heightened by the little black mustache on his upper lip. He has a brief-case under his arm and is obviously a student on his way to a lecture, but he is standing rooted to the spot, looking fixedly towards the market, and seems to have forgotten the lecture and everything around him.

MY COUSIN. That’s right, dear cousin. All his thoughts are directed towards our little comedienne. The appointed time has come; he is approaching the big fruit stall, where the most attractive goods are piled up in an appetizing display, and seems to be asking for fruit that is not available at present. No proper lunch can possibly be complete without a fruit dessert, so our little comedienne must finish her shopping for the table at the fruit stall. A round apple with ruddy cheeks slips mischievously out of her little fingers! The man in the yellow jacket bends down and picks it up, a dainty little curtsy from the little fairy of the theatre, their conversation is under way. They help and advise each other in the difficult task of choosing oranges, thus consolidating an acquaintance, which they have doubtless already formed, and enjoying a delightful rendezvous which is sure to be repeated and varied in countless ways.

Excerpted from The Golden Pot and Other Tales by E.T.A. Hoffmann.[8]

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Level of Involvement

Most social settings set very definite limits on the behavior of participants. Social rules govern levels of involvement, and activity and passivity in social interchange.

Though behavior is never rule-less, the public domain affords individuals a wider range of options and opportunities in how, and to what extent, they wish to be involved with others. Public places permit individuals to be alone if they so desire. It is not required that they should participate in public life, at least not all of the time! Yet being alone in public is a very special experience since one is surrounded by the presence – sounds and images – of others. Though alone, one can watch or fantasize about a variety of dramas that unfold about one: meetings and goodbyes, lovers’ quarrels and embraces, displays of good fellowship, enmity or deceit. All of these manifestations may become the subject of private reverie. But being surrounded by others in public settings can also be a powerful stimulus to concentration and work. Writers and other artists often select to do some of their work while alone in public!

Being alone or together in public

Persons who are in public together, walking, standing, or sitting, in cafes or restaurants are often, while being engaged in talking or listening to each other, quite aware of their social human surroundings. Their attention is partly directed outward, to surveying the public space within their view. They are always ready to greet, or be greeted by persons they know. People in small groups are also, like the solitary spectator, observers of the human drama, and relate through identification and fantasy to persons not known to them.

When persons choose to participate actively in social contacts in public places, they will often occupy special territories within the public space where they are visible to those less actively involved. Interacting in such locations can be thought of as occupying a center stage within the public space. Persons on the stage will often seem intensively involved with others on stage with them, but their interaction will exhibit just a bit more intensity and theatricality that reveals a consciousness of being observed. Such theatricality of those on center stage is particularly apparent in Mediterranean countries such as Italy or Spain, but it is no less discernible in the pedestrian streets of Munich or Amsterdam, or even in New York, as William Whyte has documented.

Occupying center stage

Public spaces permit changes in level of involvement, and offer easy transitions from spectator to participant position, and back to a spectator status again. Sometimes a change in kinds of persons using the space is correlated with such changes in degree of involvement in public life. In city spaces that attract many tourists and transients, “locals” living or working close by will ordinarily only occupy center stage when the population of tourists has become sparse (morning and evening).

Enhanced Awareness

Public urban places that promote attention to the co-presence of diverse persons also make us more aware of the physical environment. Awareness of the surrounding buildings, their relation to each other, their special qualities, is enhanced. We are more likely to notice sculptures, fountains, street furniture, and the texture of the street pavement. In 1993, when the Meir, the main street from Antwerp’s railroad station to Grote Markt was pedestrianized and transformed from a vehicular thoroughfare into a public urban place, many of Antwerp’s citizens became aware of the complex and intricate nineteenth century architecture along the street.

Joy in the public realm

When participating in celebrations, civic or religious festivals in public places ordinary people will be somber and playful, sing, walk or dance together. Some may experience pure joy, profoundly moved by the shared human experience. Being part of such occasions then becomes a highlight in the life of city dwellers. Many look forward to such community events and occasions from their childhood on.

Decline and Revival of Public Spaces

While there is reason to be alarmed at the decline of public life, and to deplore the fear of fellow human beings that inhibits life in public in many North American cities, hundreds of European cities and towns have revived their public places in their city centers through the taming or removal of cars, the provision of events and activities that draw the citizenry to these spaces, the encouragement of cafes and restaurants and free seating that facilitate sojourns in public. However, even in cities that have done well in reviving public spaces and public life, new neighborhoods on their periphery, or their suburbs, have been planned or designed without any concern for public places and the significance of the public realm.

Until the 21st century, efforts to revive public places in North American cities were few and many failed because they lacked the essential ingredients to enable people to share the public domain with one another. Many were conceived as uni-functional, commercial places designed without aesthetic considerations and located far from where a substantial number of the city’s residents lived. Few of the activities, events, and props that support sojourn in public, are present in North American public places.

The festival market places, especially the joint ventures of the designers Ben and Jane Thompson and the developer James Rouse meet some, but not all of the criteria of good public places. They have been a great attraction for the inhabitants of such cities as Boston and Baltimore, and have become favorite destinations for tourists. Yet their special character as commercial leisure centers away from the course of everyday life, and not suitable for daily use, makes it difficult to consider them as meeting the array of functions associated with the public realm.

Pioneer Square, Portland, OR

New squares created in the late 20th and early 21st century, such as Pioneer Square in Portland, OR; Main Street Square in Rapid City, SD; Campus Martius Park in Detroit, MI; Sundance Square in Fort Wayne, TX, Belmar Square in Lakewood, CO, are great improvements on the mid-20th century modern plazas. They bring people into the public space for specific purposes (shopping, entertainment), and they are greatly appreciated by citizens, yet they still lack several critical elements needed for the kind of naturally self-sustaining public realm that we are discussing here, where strangers become familiars, friends meet on a regular basis, where civic dialogue takes place, and children are socialized.

What these places do suggest, however, is that when there has been concerted action to provide public spaces that enable people to be together, such places are alive with people. It is as if a propensity for public life has only been lying dormant and is again beginning to find its full expression.

 

Excerpted and adapted (by SCL) from Chapter 5, The Public Realm and the Good City, in Livable Cities Observed, by Suzanne H. Crowhurst Lennard and Henry L. Lennard, 1995, Carmel, CA: Gondolier Press.



[1] Foremost among the urban scholars who have called attention to the importance of the public realm for life in cities are Lewis Mumford, Hannah Arendt, Hans-Paul Bahrdt, Andreas Feldtkeller, Jan Gehl, Bernard Rudofsky, Richard Sennett and William H. Whyte.

[2] “Before the city there was the hamlet and the shrine and the village: before the village, the camp, the cache, the cave, the cairn; and before all these there was a disposition to social life that man plainly shares with many other animal species.” Lewis Mumford, The City in History. New York: Harcourt Brace & Co. P. 5

[3] Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1958. p. 52.

[4] Andreas Feldtkeller, Die Zweckentfremdete Stadt, Frankfurt-New York, Campus Verlag, 1994, p. 58.

[5] Barbara Ward, The Home of Man, New York, W.W. Norton & Co., Inc., 1976. p. 37.

[6] Martin Buber, Distance and Relation, in Psychiatry, Vol. 20, May 1957.

[7] Feldtkeller, Op. cit. p. 59.

[8] E.T.A. Hoffmann, My Cousin’s Corner Window, in The Golden Pot and Other Tales, translated and edited by Ritchie Robertson, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1992.