I’m also trying to read up on cities and resilience, which is frustrating me. This book, The Resilient City: How Modern Cities Recover From Disaster sounds like it would be just right. It would be a totally good book if I were reading it for fun*. But it isn’t helping, because they keep talking about sudden perturbations, like fire and bombings and earthquakes, which doesn’t help me. Now I’m thinking that I maybe need to understand how cities withstand siege, but I can’t go chasing down all these tangents.
Droughts! I need to understand. What does the drought actually DO? What does it do on the household and block and annual level? How does it aggregate to effect a city? How could that be countered?
*DAMN! Cities NEVER give up. Like, ever. You cannot raze a city so bad that it goes away. Like, some study showed that between 1100 and 1800, only forty cities stopped existing. I suppose that makes sense. I mean, the fact of a city not existing is so powerful that we remember it forever: Atlantis, Babylon, whatever that one was that got volcanoed. I’ve been wondering if New Orleans and Galveston will be the leading edge of a new era of cities vanishing. We’ll know in a generation, I guess.
4 responses to “Cities and resilience.”
Can you rustle up the site for the “only 40 abandoned cities”?
I’m thinking of two counter-examples – I thought I had heard that lots of towns / villages were abandoned during the black death in the 14th century. But I haven’t found a quick citation for that after, oh, 10 minutes of googling.
However, the other counter-example is much closer to home. What about all the mining ghost towns scattered throughout the west?
Or how about the native SW cultures that abandoned places like Chaco Cyn, Mesa Verde, etc. around the 13th, 14th centuries because of … climate change. Unfortunately, we don’t know a whole lot about the circumstances or what those cultures tried to do to accommodate changing conditions. But that would seem to be the paradigm to look at in this context.
Yeah, over on Kevin Drum’s page, some commenters suggested that the Americas weren’t well sampled in that study. It would have been hard for me to find the cite because I returned the book on Saturday, but it turns out that GoogleBooks is magic. The Introduction is shown in full, including the end notes. Here you go:
Tertius Chandler and Gerald Fox, 3000 Years of Urban Growth(New York: Academic, 1974).
I haven’t read the original, but guess that they must have set some population threshold to distinguish between cities and towns.
Check out the “Shrinking Cities Project” a joint program based in Berlin but involving people at a few major CRP programs