A Shout in the Street: An Excursion into the Modern City by Peter Jukes

By Peter Jukes

A extraordinary meditation at the topography of the fashionable urban, A Shout on the street bargains an in depth and delicate exam of 4 city landscapes--London, Paris, Leningrad, and long island. Peter Jukes pursues the essence of those foreign metropolises in an assemblage made out of his personal evocative essays, excerpts from sleek masters of the essay shape reminiscent of Benjamin, Barthes, and Sontag, and interval photos. A Shout on the street, with a keenly cinematic eye, searches out not only the glittering facades, however the power of thoroughfares and neighborhoods.

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But it’s also a prescription for strip malls and expressways and tremendous waste, and it’s the basis for the helter-skelter residential development which has turned out to be America’s true manifest destiny. The Sierra Club has a national campaign called Challenge to Sprawl, the goal of which is to arrest the mindless conversion of undeveloped countryside into subdivisions and SUV-clogged expressways. But in a paradoxical way the Sierra Club itself has been a major contributor to sprawl, because the organization’s anti-city ethos, which has been indivisible from its mission since the time of John Muir, has fueled the yearning for fresh air and elbow room which drives not only the preservation of wilderness areas but also the construction of disconnected residential developments and daily hundred-mile commutes.

The proportion of emissions attributable to buildings in New York City is high because the number of cars, which are the main source of greenhouse emissions in the rest of the country, is extremely low in relation to the city’s population: it’s a sign of environmental success, not failure. Thinking in terms of proportions can only be misleading, since there’s no way to decrease the percentage attributable to one element without increasing the percentage attributable to others: they’re pieces of the same pie.

Promenades that go from no place to nowhere and have no promenaders. ”36 These flaws, she argued persuasively, are not unavoidable; they are merely the products of our ongoing failure to understand what we really want. Of course, living in densely populated urban centers still has many drawbacks, even though city streets, nowadays, are no longer ankle-deep in horse manure. New Yorkers at all income levels live in spaces that would seem cramped to Americans almost anywhere else. A friend of mine who grew up in a townhouse in Greenwich Village thought of his upbringing as privileged until, in prep school, he visited a classmate from the suburbs and was staggered by the house, the lawn, the cars, and the swimming pool, and thought, with despair, You mean I could live like this?

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