Jane Jacobs (1916-2006) was an urban writer and activist who championed new, community-based approaches to planning for over 40 years. Her 1961 treatise, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, became one of the most influential American texts about the inner workings and failings of cities, inspiring generations of urban planners and activists. Her efforts to stop downtown expressways and protect local neighborhoods invigorated community-based urban activism and helped end Parks Commissioner Robert Moses’s reign of power in New York City.
Our next project for Integrative Seminar/Studio, entitled Bizarre Bazaar, looks at the ways in which we engage with our city spaces through popular markets. We often see markets as areas of trade and commerce but market spaces are the pulse of any city – languages, culture, impressions, histories and stories converge in the market. Our project celebrates these market spaces through an engagement with communities, people, languages and commerce.
We have chosen markets that are known for a particular thing – whether it is fabric or beads, vegetables or animals, flee markets and paper; these markets speak about the best and the worst of our cities. Students are encouraged to encounter these places and dig past the first impressions drawing out and teasing the nature of the city itself.
‘Humankind lingers unregenerately in Plato’s cave, still reveling, its age-old habit, in mere images of the truth. But being educated by photographs is not like being educated by older, more artisanal images. For one thing, there are a great many more images around, claiming our attention. The inventory started in 1839 and since then just about everything has been photographed, or so it seems. This very insatiability of the photographing eye changes the terms of confinement in the cave, our world. In teaching us a new visual code, photographs alter and enlarge our notions of what is worth looking at and what we have a right to observe. They are a grammar and, even more importantly, an ethics of seeing. Finally, the most grandiose result of the photographic enterprise is to give us the sense that we can hold the whole world in our heads — as an anthology of images.’
Read the essay here: