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C200: Regions — To Live In

2011 March 17
by Lewis Mumford

< The eastern fringe of the Seattle metropolitan region; photo: Dan Bertolet >

The hope of the city lies outside itself.  Focus your attention on the cities—in which more than half of us live—and the future is dismal. But lay aside the magnifying glass which reveals, for example, the hopelessness of Broadway and Forty-second Street, take up a reducing glass and look at the entire region in which New York lies. The city falls into focus. Forests in the hill-counties, water-power in the mid-state valleys, farmland in Connecticut, cranberry bogs in New Jersey, enter the picture. To think of all these acres as merely tributary to New York, to trace and strengthen the lines of the web in which the spider-city sits unchallenged, is again to miss the clue. But to think of the region as a whole and the city merely as one of its parts—that may hold promise.

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Lewis Mumford is dead. He wrote the above 86 years ago. It is the opening paragraph of “Regions — To Live In,” published in Survey Graphic, LIV ( May 1, 1925). That issue featured contributions from several of the visionaries behind the Regional Plan Association, established in 1922. Alas, we didn’t pay much attention to those ideas during the most of the 20th Century, though in recent decades regionalism has seen a resurgence.

 

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