Urban development as a reflection of culture and politics

I found the reviewer’s last sentence, recommending the three books for those interested in issues of memory, history, and urban planning very interesting. Urban planning reflects both the values and dynamism of a society. Paris, for instance, along with many other European cities, remains fixated on the past; try building a skyscraper on the Champs-Élysées if you want a challenge. Other cities, like New York, promote their ostensibly forward-looking nature with hyper-modern architectural styles and a constant flow of major construction projects.

I believe cities should recognize the importance of change with regard to practical matters, including increasing populations, inadequate public services, and important cultural changes (e.g the dissolution of an old, popularly discredited order). I contend that, with urban planning as with history in general, we must not regret the past but question the future we choose.  Regarding this, I found the debate over Sevastopol particularly interesting, considering the conflict between “accommodation and agitation” and Moscow’s attempt to mythologize the city without paying attention to the actual needs of its citizens. It would appear that overconfidence in an assured victory posed as grave a danger to the Soviet Union as it did to Catholicism and Liberalism in the West. For all of his flaws, at least Chairman Mao understood that only revolutions within the revolution, fed by the blood and ingenuity of each successive generation, could keep the movement effective and relevant.