Mihai Andritoiu

There is a big difference between the mood and appeal of US urban areas and European cities. This article from Medium discusses what that difference is and how to make US cities more attractive.

Have you ever thought about the background of the term “urban” before?It comes from the Latin term “urbanus”, which means “courteous.” This definitely puts the nature of living in a city in a more understandable context.

To live in a city is to live with strangers, and if “urban” derives from a Latin word for “courteous,” then it explains the reasons we have to show respect and understanding to the people we live with in a city.

This idea of living with strangers in a busy and teeming civil society is very different from that of the small town, a place where we would know almost everybody in the community. In a small town, the relationships with public space are different, especially since we don’t encounter strangers on a daily basis or navigate a large urban area.

The withdrawal of the citizen from urban space in the 20th century is an idea that resonates with me. In most places I have lived in the United States, there isn’t much of an urban life to speak of.

In these cities, most people do not interact with each other in central spaces, instead choosing to go to restaurants, bars, and social gatherings isolated in suburbs and exurbs. Whatever urban life did exist in the downtown area is small and relatively insular.

The idea of “Urban DMA” proposed by Kim Dovey draws heavily on the book The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs. It is obvious that Dovey is a big fan of Jacobs’ 1961 book, and his Urban DMA idea is a reimagining of Jacobs’ ideas in a modern context.

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