In 1960, Kevin Lynch published “The Image of the City”. In it he examines the process by which different individuals view and interpolate the social and physical urban fabric. He asserts that the strength of the urban landscape remains dependent on its ability to evoke “a strong image in any given observer”. Different paths, edges, districts, nodes and landmarks facilitate diverse experiences. This concept, according to Lynch, is considered the process of imageability or legibility.
Ultimately, it’s not a city’s physical reality that stimulates a particular experience. It’s our individual perceptions and the meanings that we associate with these perceptions that provoke a unique image.
How do we generate this image? What insights about social, political, and economic life do we derive from this image? How might we reclaim and reinvent this image in the modern day city?
These are questions I’ve carried with me throughout my life as a student, professional, traveler, and avid urbanist. These are the questions I intend to explore with you in this forum—urban re-imager.
And I know I’m not the only one spending quite a bit of time determining how my landscape influences both me and those around me. In fact, within the first few pages of “Sidewalking” by Los Angeles Times journalist, David L. Ulin, he articulates that to exist and move through a city is to somehow attach our own pasts and experiences to something physical–something tangible (10). As we move through cities, we are also in so many ways sorting out just how to navigate our own lives.
Drawing from research, current events, and cultural observations I hope to better understand the essence of not only a city’s physical manifestation, but how we as the creators, operators, and consumers of these unique socio-ecological microcosms extract meaning from our own image of the city and how this meaning ultimately reconfigures our own identity. Cities are undoubtedly sites of continuous transformation. Can we guide these transformations in a way that cultivates legible socio-ecologically equitable advancements? Or are we only subject to the transformations that may ensue?
There’s so much good stuff I’m ready to dig into, so thanks for reading and stay tuned.
Lynch, K. (1960). The image of the city. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Ulin, D. L. (2015). Sidewalking: Coming to terms with Los Angeles. Oakland, CA: University of California Press.