European Cities Discussion

1261 words | 5 page(s)

1. Rearick in his work is primarily concerned with the idea that Paris is being represented as “many cities,” when in fact, it is one city with many tapestries that all come together to make the whole. Namely, Rearick believes that many authors have failed to understand that it is not the many different constituent parts that make Paris important and unique. Rather, it is the way in which all of these parts have a story to tell together rather than apart. This critical distinction leads him to write his book in order to protect what he believes are critical errors in the way this beloved city is actually understood in common parlance.

One of the images that he describes is the way in which poverty and wealth tend to intermingle in the city. Some have called the city dirty, bringing to light the reality that some of the poor neighborhoods are right there at the doorstep of the world’s most prestigious historical artifacts. This is a part of the nature of the city, and it certainly matches with what the author in Streetlife believed about the modern European city. Namely, it is a place where things tend to mix, where boundaries are not nearly as distinct as one might otherwise assume, and where one would almost certainly want to protect one’s self. This is the nature of the city as a center-periphery place with historic monuments in the center of the city. With the river running through Paris in such a dramatic way and so many important relics in the middle of the city, people tend to visit and spend their time in this space. This is critical because it is also where some of the impoverished neighborhoods are. This means that people will get a bird’s eye view of the poverty all around them, and it can shape their perceptions of what Paris is as a city.

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The author describes, as well, the scenes of revitalization within the city. Ultimately the city had to be reborn over time. It was knocked down and many new things were planted and created, including two dozen squares, two major parks, and a huge amount of new roads. The idea was to create the so-called “City of Lights,” which was really just another way of saying, “City of Pleasure.” What this left was a conglomeration of public spaces that would butt up against some of the things that had not yet been re-done. “Old Paris” still remained and provided some charm right in the middle of the city, and this could go either way. When many people look at Paris and think that it is like many different cities all in one, what they are really looking at is a specific plan on the part of the city planners to try and keep some of the city’s core history to go along with the newer elements. This is why the author believes that it is wrong to think of Paris in terms of its different parts rather than how those parts contribute to a functional whole. Importantly, the author suggests very strongly that the old city, the new parks, the squares, the monuments, and everything that has been built out around these things are very important implements working together. This is why the city is considered by some to be one that represents the ideal of the European city. It has its age and its history, with both monuments and natural history being right in the middle of the city. It also has pleasure, culture, and the ability of people to experience something magical. This is the model of the European city, and Paris in its design and some of its changes has achieved this in some ways.

2. London is thought to be the quintessential global city for a number of reasons. Much of this moniker has to do with the economy in London. It is the banking capital of Europe, with financial institutions being long-standing in the country. The insurance business was launched there, and it hosts banks and other implements from all over the world. A person coming to Europe from the US, from Asia, from other parts of Europe, and from Africa will feel comfortable coming to Europe. Another reason for this is that London has itself gone all over the world in its history. The British Empire at one point owned more territory than any other empire in history. They owned India, South Africa, the United States, Australia, and much more. This means that English culture, to the extent it exists, is all over the world. Likewise, the British have been more liberal in allowing people to come into the country in the wake of its own behavior. This has often led to there being little pockets of immigrants in London that have helped to create the global city feel. When one goes to London, for instance, the thing one might want to eat first is Indian food. Even before finding fish and chips or some other London-based food, one would want to find a place with good Indian food because of the heightened Indian culture within England. This is critical to the core of its being and even to its survival as an international city.

Another reason why it is an international city is because it features all of the culture that people expect from these cities. While some parts of England have pushed away the rest of the world, London has opened itself up to the rest of the world in some ways. Take, for instance, the biggest cricket match that takes place each year. The Ashes is a battle between and among the English cricketers and the best from Australia. This is an international event that brings intrigue. On top of that, London has a number of theaters that are world class, bringing to bear stories from places near and far. It has stores, shopping, and parks that allow people to experience everything England has to offer. Beyond that, its technology has been upgraded so much that people can travel relatively easily. Getting to and from Heathrow Airport is one of the simplest things around, allowing travelers the opportunity to see all that the city has to offer.

Ultimately England’s role as a leading international city is because it offers a little bit of everything. It has a stable government that is predictable enough to give people the confidence to come into England. It has economic opportunity, and until Britain decided to split from the EU, it had the support of an entire continent. It has a legal system that has long been seen as one of the fairest and steadiest in the world. This has helped to attract some of the top talent as well as some of the richest people on the planet, as well. All of these things have combined to give the country an edge and truly cosmopolitan feel. One would have to venture outside of the city to truly feel that they were in an “English” town. In London, they could feel as if they were in New York City or even Hong Kong, except that the accents would be a bit different than in those places.

  • Jerram, Leif. Streetlife: the untold history of Europe’s twentieth century. OUP Oxford, 2011.
  • Pryke, Michael. “An international city going ‘global’: spatial change in the City of London.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 9, no. 2 (1991): 197-222.
  • Rearick, Charles. Paris dreams, Paris memories: the city and its mystique. Stanford University Press, 2011.

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