Thursday, July 18, 2019 Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

James Fenton

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It is not what they built. It is what they knocked down.
It is not the houses. It is the spaces between the houses.
It is not the streets that exist. It is the streets that no longer exist.
--
German Requiem, line 1 (1980).

 
James Fenton

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Let the directions of your streets and alleys be laid down on the lines of division between the quarters of two winds. On this principle of arrangement the disagreeable force of the winds will be shut out from dwellings and lines of houses. For if the streets run full in the face of the winds, their constant blasts rushing in from the open country, and then confined by narrow alleys, will sweep through them with great violence. The lines of houses must therefore be directed away from the quarters from which the winds blow, so that as they come in they may strike against the angles of the blocks and their force thus be broken and dispersed.

 
Vitruvius
 

We bore round the point toward the old anchoring ground of the hide ships, and there, covering the sand hills and the valleys... flickering all over with the lamps of its streets and houses, lay a city of one hundred thousand inhabitants. The dock into which we drew, and the streets about it, were densely crowded with express wagons and handcarts... Though this crowd I made my way, along the well-built and well-light streets, as alive as by day, where boys in high-keyed voices where already crying the latest New York papers. When I awoke in the morning, and looked from my windows over the city of San Francisco, with its storehouses, towers, and steeples; its courthouses, theaters, and hospitals, its daily journals, its well-filled learned professions, its fortresses and lighthouses; its wharves and harbor... when I saw all these things, and reflected on what I once saw here, and what now surrounded me, I could scarcely keep my hold on reality at all, or the genuineness of anything.

 
Richard Henry Dana
 

"Here's what's not beautiful about it: from here, you can't see the rust or the cracked paint or whatever, but you can tell what the place really is. You see how fake it all is. It's not even hard enough to be made out of plastic. It's a paper town. I mean look at it, Q: look at all those cul-de-sacs, those streets that turn in on themselves, all the houses that were built to fall apart. All those paper people living in their paper houses, burning the future to stay warm. All the paper kids drinking beer some bum bought for them at the paper convenience store. Everyone demented with the mania of owning things. All the things paper-thin and paper-frail. And all the people, too. I've lived here for eighteen years and I have never once in my life come across anyone who cares about anything that matters."

 
John Green
 

Architecture worth great attention. As we double our numbers every 20 years we must double our houses. Besides we build of such perishable materials that one half of our houses must be rebuilt in every space of 20 years. So that in that term, houses are to be built for three fourths of our inhabitants. It is then among the most important arts: and it is desireable to introduce taste into an art which shews so much.

 
Thomas Jefferson
 

Oh, wonderful teacher! Oh, favored disciples! Oh, famous school that built no marble halls, and collected no grand library, but turned all life into opportunity; made houses and streets and seaside and mountain-tops, places of discipline and recitation and delight! Oh, blest example  shining this day on the pages of history our example, our dream, our desire!

 
John Heyl Vincent
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