American Architectural History: A Contemporary Reader

By Keith L. Eggener | Go to book overview

Chapter 22
Introduction
Variations on a theme park

Michael Sorkin

With the precise prescience of a true Master of the Universe, Walter Wriston recently declared that “the 800 telephone number and the piece of plastic have made time and space obsolete.” Wriston ought to know. As former CEO of the suggestively named Citicorp, he’s a true Baron Haussmann for the electronic age, plowing the boulevards of capital through the pliant matrix of the global economy.

This comparison isn’t meant to be flip: Wriston’s remark begs fundamental questions about urbanity. Computers, credit cards, phones, faxes, and other instruments of instant artificial adjacency are rapidly eviscerating historic politics of propinquity, the very cement of the city. Indeed, recent years have seen the emergence of a wholly new kind of city, a city without a place attached to it.

This ageographical city is particularly advanced in the United States. It’s visible in clumps of skyscrapers rising from well-wired fields next to the Interstate; in huge shopping malls, anchored by their national-chain department stores, and surrounded by swarms of cars; in hermetically sealed atrium hotels cloned from coast to coast; in uniform “historic” gentrifications and festive markets; in the disaggregated sprawl of endless new suburbs without cities; and in the antenna bristle of a hundred million rooftops from Secaucus to Simi Valley, in the clouds of satellite dishes pointed at the same geosynchronous blip, all sucking Arsenio and the A-Team out of the ether.

In fact, the structure of this city is a lot like television. TV’s main event is the cut, the elision between broadcast bits, the seamless slide from soap opera to docudrama to a word from our sponsor. The “design” of television is all about erasing differences among these bits, about asserting equal value for all the elements in the net, so that any of the infinite combinations that the broadcast day produces can make “sense.” The new city likewise eradicates genuine particularity in favor of a continuous urban field, a conceptual grid of boundless reach. It’s a process of erasure much noted. In the 1950s and 1960s, the alarm was sounded over “urban sprawl” and “Megalopolis,” the spread of an uninterrupted zone of urbanization along the American Northeast coast, a city become region. More recently, attention has focused on the explosion of so-called “suburban cities” on the fringes of existing metropolises. In this vast, virtually undifferentiated territory— stretching from Fairfax County, Virginia, to Orange County, California—homes, offices, factories, and shopping malls float in a culturing medium, a “non-place urban realm” that provides the bare functions of a city, while doing away with the vital, not quite disciplined formal and social mix that gives cities life (Figure 22.1).

-407-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
American Architectural History: A Contemporary Reader
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 449

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.