What is a livable city? In theory, cities have been livable for thousands of years. Arguably mankind’s greatest invention, while many cities have come and gone a number of ancient ones exist and thrive to this day – Damascus (continuously inhabited for 11,000 years), Jericho (11,000 years), Aleppo (13,000!), Athens (7,000K) … you get the idea. Click here for a list of the 12 oldest continuously inhabited cities.
So to my question – what is a livable city? To me, it’s a microcosm of the extremes of our human condition brought together in sufficient density to enable the following: high-bandwidth face-to-face communication, specialization to enable remarkable diversity of goods, services and perhaps most important … arts and culture, and a deep sense of being part of a living, vibrant organism that knows nothing is impossible. How do I understand this? Among the larger cities I’ve lived in – born and raised in Los Angeles, then moved to Montreal, New York, Brussels, Paris, Tokyo, Boston (the last one for many years, which is where I still am based), over and over I’ve lived in and explored settings where this vibrancy manifests continually. I reflect back to my three years in New York City right out of college – I could sense the emotions of the city each day, and was in awe to perceive this is a living, vibrant organism … was it happy today? Afraid? Confident? Joyful when a snowfall stopped all traffic? To me, this was and is a true representation of our collective consciousness as human beings.
The scope and scale of readings on this topic are vast. So as your humble curator, here’s a tiny sampling to get us going for our next discussion:
- Book: Street Smart: The Rise of Cities and the Fall of Cars – by Samuel I. Schwartz (Author), William Rosen (Contributor)
- Book: Dream Cities: Seven Urban Ideas That Shape the World – Wade Graham
- Book: Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time
- Article: Business Insider – WeWork raised $4.4 billion in 3 months – here’s how the co-working giant became the most valuable startup in New York City
- Article: CityLab – 5 Reasons Why Amsterdam Works So Well for Bikes
- Article: Project for Public Places – Ten Strategies for Transforming Cities and Public Spaces through Placemaking
- Article: World Economic Forum – ‘Daylighting’- the new trend that’s transforming cities
- Website – Rockefeller Foundation – Transfom Cities
- Podcast: Freakanomics Interview with Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles
- Video: The Economist – Transforming Cities with Technology