Epilogue

IN SUMMARY, how the city is known and how it is made known are questions at the core of the urban writing I have examined. Riis, Mumford, Farrell, and Goodman "decategorize" urban meditation by arguing that, above all, it is engagement with the city, engagement that is subjective. There is a danger in abstracting values from concrete situations. Once the city is represented as a quantifiable object, the city as an expression of humanly created relations and meanings is either lost to inquiry or becomes secondary. These writers point out that the lesson of the city is found in urban conduct, an individual's enactment of civic culture. A preference for the qualitative nature of experience, a refusal to deny the paradoxes that cities generate and individuals live by and with are writers' loyalties to the figure of man, to life in situ.

The city is not simply its location, describable in quantifiable terms. Rather, its cultural as well as its physical legacies must be accounted for. The city not only preserves but also generates those intangible values giving it a context as well as a direction. Seeing the city this way is an allegiance to the dreams as well as the accomplishments of reason. As a result, the writers I have discussed diminish the most powerful claim of a modern social science: what is empirically verifiable constitutes legitimate experience.

In their assessments of the city, these four writers remained true to what they believed was the idea of an authentic self and community. Human nature is fraternal and creative; the metropolis is not a city; its teaching estranges individuals from their powers. In this sense, the informing nature of the writer's past and place seemed to them self-justifying and indubitable. Even if they were creatively self-deceiving, never far from their writing is the portrait of the city as a maelstrom, a necropolis, a habitualizing environment, and an agent of authoritarianism. They understood all too well the danger of their own optimism. By giving weight to their own aspirations and fears they emphasized what the economy of

-207-

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Makers of the City
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Introduction 3
  • Chapter 1- Jacob A. Riis: The City As Christian Fraternity 10
  • Chapter 2- Lewis Mumford: The City as Man 64
  • Chapter 3- James T. Farrell: The City As Society 119
  • Chapter 4- Paul Goodman: The City as Self 159
  • Epilogue 207
  • Notes 211
  • Bibliographical Notes 231
  • Index 237
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