Cities Are Good for You: The Genius of the Metropolis by Leo Hollis | NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble
Cities Are Good for You: The Genius of the Metropolis

Cities Are Good for You: The Genius of the Metropolis

by Leo Hollis
     
 

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Cities are where the twenty-first century is really going to happen. Already at the beginning of the century, we became 50% urban as a global population, and by 2050 we're going to be up to 70% urban. So cities could either be our coffin or our ark.

Leo Hollis presents evidence that cities can deliver a better life and a better world in the future. From

Overview

Cities are where the twenty-first century is really going to happen. Already at the beginning of the century, we became 50% urban as a global population, and by 2050 we're going to be up to 70% urban. So cities could either be our coffin or our ark.

Leo Hollis presents evidence that cities can deliver a better life and a better world in the future. From exploring what slime mold can tell us about traffic flow, to looking at how traditional civic power structures are being overturned by Twitter, to investigating how cities all over the world are tackling climate change, population growth, poverty, shifting work patterns and the maintenance of the fragile trust of their citizens, Cities Are Good for You offers a new perspective on the city.

Combining anecdote, scientific studies, historical portraits, first-hand interviews and observations of some of the most exciting world cities, Hollis upends long-held assumptions with new questions: Where do cities come from? Can we build a city from scratch? Does living in the city make you happier or fitter? Is the metropolis of the future female? What is the relationship between cities and creativity? And are slums really all that bad?

Cities Are Good for You introduces us to dreamers, planners, revolutionaries, writers, scientists, architects, slum-dwellers and kings. Ranging globally and through time in search of answers--from the archive to the laboratory, from City Hall to the architect's desk--it is above all driven by the idea that cities are for people and by people.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Forget the title; London-based writer and historian Hollis (The Stones of London: A History in Twelve Buildings) doesn’t make a solid case for the superiority of cities over suburbs or countryside. But having spent time in places as varied as Manhattan, Bangalore, and Venice, and having researched his subject, he has much to say about urban dynamism. He is particularly engaging when writing about slums, such as in a detailed profile of Mumbai’s Dharavi district (including its insufficient water supply and lack of public toilets); as well as on technologically sophisticated bus systems in Curtiba, Brazil, and Bogota; and on the construction of new “eco-cities” like Masdar, Abu Dhabi, and Tianjin Eco, China. However, Hollis sometimes flits from topic to topic and devotes too little attention to such megacities as Jakarta and Lagos. He also tends toward abstraction, as when describing the August 2011 London riots (“the city turned in on itself with extraordinary violence”), and can flood the reader with meaningless statistics (the millions of square feet of planned residential and commercial space in Songdo, South Korea), all of which make parts of the book read like urban studies–lite. However, these shortcomings are balanced by passages that colorfully demonstrate, through anecdotes and data, how particular cities are “extraordinary economic engines of wealth and innovation.” 55 b/w illus. Agent: Patrick Walsh, Conville and Walsh. (Aug.)
Library Journal
London historian Hollis (The Stones of London: A History in Twelve Buildings) here proposes an argument for urbanism and the multifaceted goodness of cities. He observes historically dominant cities, including New York and London, and rapidly rising cities, including Bangalore and Shanghai. He considers urban planning, entrepreneurialism and creativity, the impact of technology (from the Otis elevator to the automobile to the mobile phone), transportation, environmental concerns, and—in the most compelling chapter, set largely in the massive Mumbai slum of Dharavi—the urban geography of poverty. He lauds innovative practices and projects, including the breathtakingly successful public transit system in Curitiba, Brazil, and Manhattan's High Line, which reclaimed a decrepit, abandoned rail line for use as a park. Near the end of his sprawling survey of the state of the world's cities, Hollis admits (with some conflict) to having recently moved to the suburbs. This is a small but perhaps telling detail, for despite its celebratory title, Hollis's book is more about how cities could be much better for us if only they were more sustainably developed, reversed the inequitable distribution of resources, and were treated by their residents as communities. VERDICT Of potential interest to both academic and amateur scholars of urban life.—Janet Ingraham Dwyer, State Lib. of Ohio, Columbus
Kirkus Reviews
We are city dwellers, to paraphrase the Whole Earth Catalog, and we might as well get used to it. Our appeal to the good old days usually looks to the countryside for inspiration. Yet, joining the literature of the new urbanism, British historian Hollis (Stones of London: A History in Twelve Buildings, 2011, etc.) argues that the city is a multifaceted, inexhaustible source of possibility for human achievement. Where others have argued for economic good (cities are engines of innovation and enrichment, à la Lewis Mumford) and cultural and social advancement (cities are where smart people congregate and create things, à la Richard Florida), Hollis opens with an intangible: "It is places like the High Line," he writes of the newly opened Manhattan park, "that allow us to think again about the city and how it can make us happy." Happy? Yes, happy, and Hollis does a solid job of showing how cities can buck many of the negative trends that so define the Western world in particular: Don't like the fact that the United States hasn't signed the Kyoto Protocol? No matter, Hollis suggests, because "It will be cities…rather than nations, which will be at the forefront of the climate-change challenge, driving initiatives, setting out practical policies and ensuring that they are followed through." Don't like the anonymity of the city dweller? Then, Hollis urges, redefine community and create a miniature village within the city where everyone knows everyone else. Hollis' tone is optimistic but grounded, which is a nice switch from the usual doomsaying of trends analysts. Though he sometimes ventures out onto the scaffolding without much visible support--for instance, for his suggestion that the world's future mega-regions "will not happen organically" (Why not? They did in the past)--he manages not to plummet to the sidewalk below. A good read, popular without being condescending, for students of the modern city and the metropolises of the future.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781620402078
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
07/16/2013
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
304
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

Leo Hollis is a writer and historian. Born in London, he studied history of the University of East Anglia. He now works as an editor at Verso and is the critically acclaimed author of London Rising: The Men Who Made Modern London (published in the UK as The Phoenix: St Paul's Cathedral and the Men Who Made Modern London) and The Stones of London: A History in Twelve Buildings. He lives in West Hampstead, UK.
Leo Hollis was born in London in 1972. He went to school at Stonyhurst College and read History at UEA. He works in publishing and is the author of two books on the history of London: The Phoenix: The Men Who Made Modern London and The Stones of London: A History Through Twelve Buildings. He writes regularly for the New Statesman, the TLS and the Daily Telegraph. His blog can be found at www.citiesaregoodforyou.com and tweets at @leohollis.

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