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Barie Fez-Barringten

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A partial history of the culture of cosmopolitan urbanism
By Barie Fez-Barringten   
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Last edited: Sunday, November 18, 2012
Posted: Wednesday, July 18, 2012

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Have you ever thought about urbanism (populate) as a culture (condition) or that urbanism could be cosmopolitan (universal)?
The “culture of cosmopolitan urbanism” aptly describes who we are and what we face.

“A partial history of the culture of cosmopolitan urbanism”                                                            

by Barie Fez-Barringten:

Associate professor:Global University

www.bariefez-barringten.com                    

email:bariefb.comcast.net  

           Have you ever thought about urbanism (populate) as a culture (condition) or that urbanism could be cosmopolitan (universal)? The “culture of cosmopolitan urbanism” aptly describes who we are and what we face. The sooner we understand our culture and its peculiar characteristics the sooner we can manage our lives and improve our living conditions. Increases in population and density culture (cultivate) our personal, family and business lives. We are cosmopolitan and urban as we agree, disagree, peruse common goals, tolerate stress and congestion, discern between community and privacy and distribute precious resources. For example, an urbanized person negotiates traffic, crowds, street signs, home mail delivery, and crowded places of public gatherings, ambulating, few stars due to bright skies, pollution, live entertainment, public transportation, and close proximity to neighbors.                                                                                                                                        The culture of cosmopolitan urbanism is both about those affected by population’s dynamics and the way they are able to utilize these affects to facilitate further population growth. Like any culture it can be inherited and once experienced, it can be conveyed and inherited by others. Persons that have been cultured by urbanism may convey that experience to others to preserve the culture of cosmopolitan urbanism. Ancient cities, even Venice were man-made, synthetic, designed, and centrally controlled by someone other than its citizens and inhabitants. Built by heroes, dictators, tyrants…today except for the business of tourism, for example the French are even ashamed of their palaces because they represent the cities built by people to glorify themselves and not their society. Today it has degenerated into a place for tourist and the natural and normal day to day life of Italians has been eclipsed by non-resident commercial proprietors of hotels, guest houses, real estate property, restaurants, gondolas and tourist attractions. However, as Rotterdam it needed a consensus and support of the entire merchant population to actually created the land, canals and structures for the buildings. Societies that live in cities are often called civilizations. A city can also be defined as an absence of physical space between people and firms. By this definition, the first cities we know of were located in Mesopotamia, such as Eridu, Uruk, and Ur, and in Egypt along the Nile, the Indus Valley Civilization and China. Before this time it was rare for settlements to reach significant size, the growth of the population of ancient civilizations, the formation of ancient empires concentrating political power, and the growth in commerce and manufacturing led to ever greater capital cities and centers of commerce and industry, with Alexandria, Antioch and Seleucia of the Hellenistic civilization, Pataliputra (now Patna) in India, Chang'an (now Xi'an) in China, Carthage, ancient Rome, its eastern successor Constantinople (later Istanbul), and successive Chinese, Indian and Muslim capitals approaching or exceeding the half-million population level.

                         Before we left Saudi Arabia, Riyadh had grown from a population of about 800,000 to nearly Four million. A brief look at the Greek and Roman colony settlements provides a key to modern urbanization, as these ancient societies ruled the world, so do the western world’s economies. Greek and Roman colonial settlements are the models for western society, which in turn influences the settlement and governance of much of the world. Greece is  divided into many small self-governing communities, which is a pattern dictated by Greek geography because every island, valley and plain is cut off from its neighbors by the sea or mountain ranges. Greek cities are filled with legends of god’s and goddesses and built around temples for their worship. One can find variations of suburbia, condominium apartments, sub-divisions, townhouse developments, commercial and industrial parks in China, Mid-east, Gulf Arab States, Russia, Europe, South America, and Asia. Athens was a city-state ruled by a basileus or "king”. The power of the basileus slowly faded; underneath the basileus was a council of nobles, which were called the Areopagus and as their wealth increased, the nobles of the Areopagus slowly stripped the king of power until Athenian government imperceptibly became an oligarchy in which all power was vested in a few persons or in a dominant class or clique and was government by the few. However, this is the core of the federal form of government and our way of choosing candidates by an electorate.

             So much of U.S. law and settlement is based on precedence, which is why synthetic cites are so successful. History has a way of repeating itself is a another precedence in our future as when from 650 BC onwards, the aristocracies were overthrown and replaced by populist leaders called tyrants (tyrranoi), a word which did not necessarily have the modern meaning of oppressive dictators. The corporate building synthesizer is no doubt wary of the extent, limits of the general public, and engages local and popular understandings to present their contextual products. The story of Rome provides the pillars of today’s modern cities and vocabulary. Ancient Roman senators (from the Latin for 'old man' seen) were originally advisors to the kings from patrician (noble) families. Together these senators were called 'conscript fathers'. Depending on the form of government, are the predicates to today’s town fathers, city councils, county commissioners, and our state senators. Since Europe and other western cities follow the Greek and Roman model, it is interesting to note how Rome also developed with the combination of small farming communities around a hilltop fortification. The hilltop not withstanding, many of our towns, villages and urban areas develop like-wise. It is in these antecedents we find the solutions to the way we can change the path to correct some of the shortcomings of today’s city growth. You see not all urban areas can grow in the same way. Some cites cannot even grow because they are not designed for growth while others are designed for growth. Topography, ground structure, infrastructure and cost play a significant role as well as the availability of water and power. New York City has all of these while cites of Saudi Arabia have had to build water desalination plants to fuel the expansion of there population and urbanization. Greek and Roman colonies were established for both trade, and to exploit its’ agriculture for excess crops. These excess crops may have been needed in the home states as many of the cities and states in the U.S. were also settled and which contributed to the increase the federal base income. When we see investors, developer’s and land speculators we can ask whether such growth contributes to the local economy and welfare of our community’s citizens.

                But most industrial corporations use a local municipality as a venue to carry out its product development knowing that consumers will be attracted. The corporation has a cosmopolitan view of its market and synthesis its products for that market in the same way it mass manufactures automobiles in any state or country for mass marketing. Generally, the influence of large corporate developers on a small to medium size city and urban area is to absorb the private small to medium sized design and build tradesman and contracting business. The architect who is usually the arbiter between contactor and owner is eliminated and only use to permute standard stock and redesigned house plans while only large scale trades look out of town for any labor or contactors.

                      Few local businesses can develop in this method and all the profit and corporate development goes to the national corporation. The wave of such development took place in Europe during the industrial revolution producing the famous tenement burg buildings, which also proliferated in America. For practical reasons, Roman cities were planned with two major streets running East –West and North-South intersecting at the forum, which was the center of commerce in the city. They formed, what today would be called town Centers, New York City follows this pattern. “ Virtually all-Roman cities had schools, and the larger ones had libraries. Streets were generally paved after Julius Caesar’s time and large centers had pavements”. “ The Roman Republic made significant contributions to city design, that of the application of planning the city to follow the pattern of a military camp." “The city, wherever it existed, was the basic unit for tax-collection. This duty was entrusted to the local notables, and not the representative of central power."  

          "For the Roman emperors cities served as a distinct administrative purpose, relieving the central authorities of responsibility for local administration which was difficult to run centrally even with the improved communications which Rome created." The importance of ambulation and the pedestrian was even then very important. "Under Julius Caesar that was still in force, carriages were forbidden to use these streets by day, since it was found that there was not room in them both for wheeled vehicles and pedestrians. In Antoine’s time there were developed within the city limits many gardens and parks for private estates as well as public parks”. The Roman’s design of a city’s water supply by aqueducts and tunnels is still valid today. It is the same in states who look to their counties and counties look to their cities to manage. It is a hierarchy of the delegation of the authority and responsibility. During the European middle Ages, a town was as much a political entity as a collection of houses. For an individual, city residence brought freedom from customary rural obligations to lord and community: "Stadtluft macht frei" ("City air makes you free") was a saying in Germany. If you owned property, you had citizen’s rights. Along with the mortgage industry, synthetic development fulfills this ideal, an ideal, which has no longer been required in the U.S., for a long time. However, synthetic development has made having a mortgage-debt itself a status symbol engaging a universal metaphor dating back to ancient times when actually living in a rental apartment or on rental property does not affect a citizen’s right to vote, serve in the military or enjoy all the rights under the constitution and the bill of rights, in fact, non-Americans have as much right to buy and sell property as anyone. The affects on population and development decisions has been sub-urbanization because as any industry it must be able to manufacture its product’s efficiently and with the least outside interference.                                                                      

          This is why so much of the synthetic development has occurred out side of existing urban areas or with an urban areas special handling. In exceptional cases like Venice, Genoa or Lübeck, cities themselves became powerful states, sometimes taking surrounding areas under their control or establishing extensive maritime empires. Similar phenomena existed elsewhere, as in the case of Sakai, which enjoyed a considerable autonomy in late medieval Japan. Sakai is a city located in Prefecture, and has been one of the largest and most important seaports of Japan since the medieval era. Many of the Ancient cities were man-made, synthetic and designed by a single person or dynasty. They were subsequently managed by the equivalent of dukes and earls and German “de Beamten” who were employed by the Kaiser. Each country and culture has its own version of the manner of delegating the authority and responsibly. In any case, from the Greeks and Romans the sovereign corporal citizen person is delegated the right to govern himself and, own and trade property as well as to have a say in government and elect public officials as well as to form institutions and corporal entities. It is this right, which leads to the formation of the church, establishments, corporations, town, hamlets and city government. Indeed, other than dictatorships, feudal and limited royal governments, most urban settlements, communities, colonies and towns are governed by so-called municipal governments, which may be royally decreed, democratically commissioned, militarily controlled or established as American Indians and ARAMCO reservations.

               There are not areas in the world where no national government recognizes nor have the populations requested national citizenship, corporal or municipal status as areas in the U.S. Ozarks, Pakistan, and some Arab Bedouin lands. A city is an urban settlement with a particularly important status, which differentiates it from a town. City is primarily used to designate an urban settlement with a large population. However, city may also indicate a special administrative, legal, or historical status. In the United States, "city" is primarily a legal term meaning an urban area with a degree of autonomy (i.e. a township), rather than meaning an entire large settlement (metropolitan area). Because it has consensus of its population it has the power to control its own budget, taxing, and spending. It can make and mange its own social and cultural priorities and it can manage its own growth. However, since the elected court judges overturn most decisions that do not favor Real Estate Developers, developments are allowed which do not always conform to the comprehensive development plans. Because of the numbers, urbanism creates the potential for great power and wealth and even today governments encourage the creation of synthetic cites to improve the quality and quantity of support services for existing and incoming populations. Paris is a historical example of a natural city with a plethora of many urban clusters built over the history of its growth. A city which is more than 2,000 years old and where the Gauls of the Parisii tribe settled and founded a fishing village on an island in the river that is the present-day Ile de la Cité -- the center around which Paris developed, known as Lutetia (Lutece) in ancient times. Lutetia was renamed Paris in 212, taking its name from the Gallic "Parisii" tribe name. Many of these terms are part of our urban vocabulary. In those days, they named them tribes and in our times, we call them by family names and Indian tribes. Giving us a great example of the possibilities and success of a world- class city, originally, Paris was conquered by Julius Caesar in 52 BC, and existed as a regional center under the Romans and in the early middle Ages. The Romans profited by Paris in the same a real estate development and operating company will but and sell a new town, or urban development property. It is all part of a way of generating profits from urban developments. Often characterized as spirited and rebellious, the people of Paris first declared themselves an independent commune.

                     The storming of the Bastille in 1789 was the first of a series of key actions by the Parisian people during the French Revolution. Because of its diverse social complexity and non-corporate culture, Paris was and is now a city of hundreds of political points of view and individual entrepreneurs, a fertile field for invention, creativity and personal growth. Compare this life with the life in any corporate town and find it filled with health, safety and welfare but empty of the creativity of an urb indigenously created around multiple and peculiar interests. For example, in Paris the history of modern art started with Impressionism as a reaction to a very formal and rigid style of painting - done inside studios and set by traditional institutions like the Academie des Beaux-Arts in Paris. In this setting, urbanity is a cauldron of events, emotions and socialization, which has been well documented from the time of Egyptian hieroglyphics. Instead, synthetic developers use high-paid Madison Avenue public relations firms to create the artistic story-board before the place is ever built. This art work provides future residents a scenario to authenticate there own identity and urban metaphor. In effect, the developer anticipated his buyer would be attracted to his product and occupy the pre-designed mass produced urban structure. Very different from the city dweller whose scenario is the sights and sounds of the streets, indigenous culture and dynamic neighborhoods? The Renaissance (French for "rebirth"; was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th through the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the late middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The periods of the renaissance may be traced by its cities beginning in Florence, Rome, Vienna, Paris, Warsaw, Prague, Barcelona, and Lisbon and may be characterized by the massive revival and public appreciation of the arts and sciences particularly expressed in its early middle and late building design, palaces, performing-arts buildings, fountains, plazas, public gardens and remarkable public sculptures and church buildings. Let us not find parity between a corporately formed context and one naturally formed by native inhabitants over a period of time. All of these spawned famous kings and queens who demanded and sponsored culture to the extent that the Hapsburg queen, Maria Theresa, had ruins brought intact from Rome and placed on her palace grounds at Sherburne. It was later her daughter Marie Antoinette who introduced civility in Rocco furniture design to be used by the French court and culture and later the rest of the world.

                     Many of these cities continue today to urbanize over a series of development initiatives and the new commercial district in Paris, La Défense business district Radio city and Park Avenue’s Grand Central Project in the early twentieth century. Urbanism often has been the monument and offshoot of great world calamities disaster and revolutions as Alexandria, Uruk, and Cairo. Urban centers were always the center of the places of worship and changed with the reformation when merchant’s rooftops were permitted to be higher than the church. General about Florida Florida is still trying to manage the transportation system to support sustainable development and curtail urban sprawl. Many of Florida’s major arteries are being added, and expanded but at a pace far behind demand and has not found a way to finance a complete public transportation system The last objective fills the daily papers as places like Ave Maria and Babcock win approvals to develop privately despite the governments wish to acquire, provide, protect, and maintain appropriate public access to open space outside of designated urban development boundaries to provide for water storage, agriculture, natural systems, and parks. To give our own situation perspective we in southwest Florida are amongst 1371 United States Urban Areas & Urban Clusters with more than 10,000 people. The US Census Bureau defines an urban area as "Core census block groups or blocks that have a population density of at least 1,000 people per square mile and surrounding census blocks that have an overall density of at least 500 people per square mile. There are many such "Core census block groups or blocks in Florida and other cities which allows them to get HUD and other urban redevelopment and community grants. Obviously, there are these clusters in Southwest Florida. The concept of Urbanized Areas as defined by the US Census Bureau are often used as a more accurate gauge of the size of a city, since in different cities and states the lines between city borders and the urbanized area of that city are often not the same. So much of this information is available on the Internet and is from reports available from the US government information Internet web sites.

           To give SWFLa perspective , the city of Greenville, South Carolina has a city population under 60,000 but an urbanized area over 300,000, while Greensboro, North Carolina has a city population over 200,000 but an urbanized area population of around 270,000--meaning that Greenville is actually "larger" for some intents and purposes, but not for others, such as taxation and local elections. Many of the counties in South West Florida (SWFL) are the same including Lee, Charlotte, and Collier with their incorporating and urbanizing Fort Myers, Bonita Springs, Naples and Port Charlotte. As most US Cities, Florida’s cities are created through incorporation. In simple terms, the basic steps of incorporation are the following: (1) design a charter (with the only required components being a description of the city's boundaries, establishment of the form of government, and a provision listing the election schedule; (2) have a special act adopted by the local legislative delegation; (3) have the special act adopted by the Florida Legislature; (4) hold a vote at home on the charter "by the people"; and (5) hold the first election. Most election official complains about the drastically low turnout out for most elections and government has turned to civic associations, and ad-hoc citizen review panels. Historically, the idea of a city was brought over from Spain and England through the granting of a charter by the king. The granted charter was a business contract. Today, the charter is a contract with the people to provide governmental services. In fact, many cities are run like a business. Try as they may, these policies do not consider the scale and magnitude, diversity and absenteeism of many populations. However, such settlement types include colonization where landowners build a settlement of houses for farmers to live and trade such as the German Dorf and American hamlets.  

              Contemporary examples are plentiful in expatriate and foreign worker’s housing in developing countries, military family, contractor camps and world-wide displaced refugee camps. For these, whole industries have sprung-up producing instant shelters, building, and maintaining infrastructure. Our federal General Services Administration (GSA) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) sponsor many of these initiatives. Industrialization including building a plant, housing and support facilities in order to have laborers to manufacture products usually from materials which may be found at the site or nearby. All of this has brought out the most cosmopolitan and global in many of today’s Architectural and engineering and building contactors who have made an industry out of urbanization in a rapid and temporary scale. They have produced the Pompeii’s and Paestum’s of modern times. “Culture of Cosmopolitan Urbanism” has extended itself beyond the walls of traditional, commercial and industrial cities, beyond one government and beyond cultures. It has left the “cauterization” to private and faith-based organizations to render, mend and minister metaphors with internet, movies, familiar artifacts and cloths. Big cities like Tokyo flash moving images on the sides of their buildings and proliferate the culture with western symbols. Cities urbanize with music, images and words. Urbanizing is not only a science but also an art. Additionally cities manifest because of trade, conquest or market demand. Trade may be an incentive for businessmen to take advantage of an intersection of roads or access to port and terminals where trade, import and export may take place.

                     Conquest, where hostile action and either take land occupied or improved. Or, New Town, that supplies market demand by planning a city from its inception and is typically constructed in a previously undeveloped area. In part, the United States bases its formation of cities on European precedence as England, Wales and Northern Ireland where a town is traditionally any settlement, which has received a charter of incorporation that has been approved by the monarch. I am here reminded how George Washington refused to be a king but rather one of three so as to place the burden of rule on a consensus of the population. In more modern times it is often considered that a town becomes a city (or a village becomes a town) as soon as it reaches a certain population, although this is an informal definition and no particular numbers are agreed upon. Choosing the Corporate Life The very fact that corporate developments exist offer a way for urbanite top choose and by the mere act of choosing eliminate his woes in one place and find what is offered in the second. When he chooses he leaves being the natural environment which has grown up around him and in which he has no actual ownership nor voice for a place which has all the things he imagined but with out all the baggage history, amentias, complexities and options of the natural urb. One scarifies natural for the synthetic wanting the metaphor of the corporate, structured, engineered and latest. I recall when William Levitt offered Leveitt town his buildings were very far from the city had closets and many rooms, parking garage and back yard in which to play and entertain.

                            It did not have the sounds and soot of the big city but my mother would not even consider such a sub-urb because she loved the city and all that it had to offer. She did not find any value in what they offered as what she had in the natural urb was superior to what was in the sub-urb. She weighed the pos and cons and decided not to follow the hordes of people who were choosing their way out of their context and historical roots for a new and clean beginning. For many it would be there only way to additionally identify with the emerging mega corporations for employments and attending benefits. For those who could not improve the natural selecting the synthetic would be the simplest initiative to alter their future. Sociologist and novelist wrote many books on the subject noting the predictable morass of this new lifestyle but the corporate metaphor machine won and the style prevailed.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

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