Transformation of Cities in Central and Eastern Europe: Towards Globalization

Transformation of Cities in Central and Eastern Europe: Towards Globalization

Transformation of Cities in Central and Eastern Europe: Towards Globalization

Transformation of Cities in Central and Eastern Europe: Towards Globalization

Synopsis

This book identifies and describes the inter- and intra-urban transformations of Central and Eastern European cities. The authors discuss the similarities and differences between significant Central and Eastern European cities, comparing patterns of historical context and socialist legacies before 1990, and the impacts of internal and external forces on reshaping the cities since then. These themes are explored through case studies of capital cities in Central Europe (Berlin, Budapest, Prague, Ljubljana, and Warsaw), the Baltic States (Tallinn, Riga, and Vilnius), Southeast Europe (Sofia) and Eastern Europe (Moscow).

Excerpt

Shortly after I became the Rector of the UNU, I was introduced to this research project, then entitled “Globalization and Urban Transformations in Central and Eastern Europe”. It was one of the projects initiated and organized by Fu-chen Lo, the successful manager of the Mega-cities and Urban Development programme at the UNU-IAS. I was delighted to see such an effort, as I had been involved in the study of the socialist countries of Central and Eastern Europe since I became a professor in the Geographical Institute of Utrecht University, the Netherlands.

At that time, I concentrated on questions such as what made socialist agriculture different, how could this difference be seen in the landscape, and how successful was it? In the same vein, the Institute began studies of socialist cities, comparing them to the cities of Western Europe, developing countries, and North America. We assumed that differences in economic and political systems, sociocultural backgrounds, and histories made a major impact on the layout and functioning of cities. In that context, studying Central and Eastern Europe, I also met Ian Hamilton and we discussed in particular the development of socialist cities. At Utrecht, we focused our research on the bigger, long-established cities and their changes during socialist times, as well as on new towns founded or established during socialism. It was clear that the new towns and cities reflected the basic tenets of socialist thinking much more than the former group. The presocialist heritage has continued to weigh down heavily on both the appearance and development of the cities that already existed. Nevertheless, looking at (East) Berlin, or Warsaw, the influence of socialist thinking and planning after more than four decades, though now rapidly disappearing, is undeniable.

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