Rare Moments of Emptiness

Parking Garage, Houston (2012) Lynn Saville

Excerpt from "Eloquent Empty Spaces," by Lynn Saville, The New York Times, November 2, 2013: 

WHEN I began photographing cities at twilight, I was attracted to outlying regions, places that seemed unloved and overlooked. More recently, I have been lured back to the central areas of cities, where economic turmoil has produced its own gaps in the urban facade...

Signs of previous occupation, failure and loss mingle with hints of renewal and re-creation.

Working in places such as New York, Los Angeles, Portland, Me., Boston, Cleveland, Columbus, Ohio, Detroit and Houston, I continue to photograph cities at dawn or dusk. These transitional times underscore the shifting nature of vacancy and offer glimpses of cityscapes in rare moments of emptiness. 

See also:

Places Worthy of Love

Staying Put “What all of us long for, I suspect, is to love the places which we live and live in places worthy of love. Not every place where people are forced to live or have been set down by work or family circumstance, not all places are lovable. But there are a lot of places that have been either polluted or economically ruined. There are a lot of places that have been homogenized out of existence by franchises and big box stores and so forth. But I think anyone who’s had a taste of a distinctive place, a real place—whether it’s a place where they themselves have or simply a place they have visited—everyone who has had such a taste of what a distinctive home place might be longs to have one of their own.”

~ Scott Russell Sanders, speaking about his book, Staying Put, on Open Line with Fred Anderle

Designing Cities for Cars

"In developing-world cities, the majority of people don’t have cars, so I will say, when you construct a good sidewalk, you are constructing democracy. A sidewalk is a symbol of equality...We are designing cities for cars, cars, cars, cars, cars. Not for people. Cars are a very recent invention. The 20th century was a horrible detour in the evolution of the human habitat. We were building much more for cars’ mobility than children’s happiness...The upper-income people in developing countries never walk. They see the city as a threatening space, and they can go for months without walking one block."

~ Enrique Peñalosa, from an interview with Deborah Solomon, New York Times Magazine (6.8.08)

Double Spell

“The minds that had conceived the Tower of Babel could not build it. The task was too great. So they hired hands for wages. But the hands that built the Tower of Babel knew nothing of the dream of the brain that had conceived it. One man’s hymns of praise became other men’s curses.”

From Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927).

"That the urban future should be at once repellent and seductive is hardly surprising, since actual cities have always cast their own double spell. Their crowded streets and cramped habitations induce claustrophobia but also promise new forms of intimacy. The alienation and loneliness that blossom in the midst of crowds are romantic and agonizing in equal measure. City life is subject to all kinds of planning, scheduling, surveillance and regulation, which makes it both efficient and dehumanizing. Its buzzing disorder holds the threat of violence and the promise of vitality."

From "Metropolis Now" by A.O. Scott in today's New York Times Sunday Magazine.

Where To Live

From the Brazen Careerist

Richard Florida, professor at George Mason University in Virginia and author of "The Rise of the Creative Class," summarized conclusions from a recent summit of the mavens of the economic development and the psychology of happiness: "Place is as important as having a job that challenges you, but not as important as relationships with family and friends."

- Penelope Trunk