All posts tagged: tourism

the nostalgia machine.

I’ve been thinking a lot about nostalgia lately.  Here I’ve written a lot about history, about memory, about temporal multiplicy in the urban fabric and the importance of historical context for civic engagement and cultural identity.  But what happens when we think that in order to remember, we must freeze something in time?  Or, to reconstruct it to how we imagine that it may have been, a la Carcassone?  Even further: when we commodify and articulate that history-myth for economic gain or political power? I’ve raised these issues before.  But what I haven’t seen is a broader discussion of this problematic outside of the realm of historic preservation.  But consider: what are food trucks for?  What is a bike path, or a greenway, or a pedestrianized plaza?  Are they so different from what urbanists have done before, in pursuit of a competitive, attractive city? Consider, for example, Ebenezer Howard’s scheme for the Garden City of To-Morrow (1898). Today we recognize in this plan for a world of “slumless, smokeless cities” a master plan that eventually …

working landscapes, fantasy landscapes, cultural landscapes.

I just got back from a road trip through the Pyrenees, from the French Riviera to Barcelona.  It was a gorgeous trip, a relaxing trip, a very, very food oriented trip (like you’re surprised).  But you know what was surprising?  How industrial, how work-oriented the landscape that we traveled through was.  From Marseille and its warehouses to the industrial agriculture and viticulture of Languedoc, from large-scale salt production in the Camargue to the incredible manufacturing history and massive port of Barcelona, the places we traveled through were not exactly straight from the fairy tales.  When we passed a nuclear power plant we were reminded that France gets 75% of its energy that way, and as we passed through the Pyrenees and saw the vast fields of air turbines we marveled at their size, the sheer engineering of them, and the marvelous contrast that they made against the romantic misty landscapes and medieval villages that surrounded them.  It was so exciting to see up close the work of making a country run, the kind of thing …

an anti-logic of streets: getting lost in Rome and at home (and thoughts on arts-experiments in planning)

Long title, lots of ideas here.  Stick with me. I spent last week in Rome, which is actually where la flaneuse first was born, six years ago.  I didn’t yet know then that I would be wandering around cities as my profession, but as a writer for Let’s Go: Italy, I learned to love the solitude and spontaneity of exploring cities on foot, watching roads and residents as I went.  Though I got to know Rome very well, especially as I tirelessly visited every restaurant, mapped every vicolo, and scouted every sightseeing deal, returning was a whole different ballgame.  I was struck by the city’s layers, its character, the way it has grown haphazardly over time and then lurched under massive redesign campaigns by powerful leaders seeking to make their mark.  I saw Rome with new eyes, and I want to share some of my observations with you. First, though, I want to give credit for these new eyes to the ladies of Platform 2, an incredible conceptual art/performance/social engagement collective here in Boston.  A …

from the archives: kobenhavn

Copenhagen/Kobenhavn is known throughout the world as a model for urban living.  And how.  A mix of scales, public spaces, excellent public transportation and lots of beautiful people on bikes, beautiful waterways, and a gorgeous host of architecture from 17th century to uber-contemporary…all of these attributes make for an incredible city to visit and, I’m sure, live in.  Feast your eyes on some photos of what I think makes Copenhagen seem imminently livable.  What do you think?

local food traditions

Today I want to talk about food.  Okay, I always want to talk about food, but today I have a specific topic. I write a lot on this blog about cultural resources and recognizing community assets, and this past summer I got to thinking a lot about everyone’s favorite asset, food.  And more specifically, local food traditions that are profoundly seasonal and place-based, that make a big part of understanding life wherever we are.  We talk a lot these days about obesity, packaged food, industrial food system contamination, and the problems of factory animal farming, and I think it’s important to keep in mind all of the incredible local, cultural food traditions that we all do still enjoy and engage in our daily lives.  So, I want to share a little bit about my experience with New England’s food traditions, which I spent a lot of time thinking about (and enjoying) this past summer. Please share in comments food traditions in your own area that you love! Ok, well you can’t talk about New England …

if you build it will they come? creating urban amenities

So, this was going to be a post about the Bumpkin Island Art Encampment. But I didn’t get there.  Let’s just say, do not trust Boston Harbor Cruises to get you to anywhere you need to go. That aside, my friends and I had an incredible picnic on George’s Island (complete with red snappers from Maine) and afterwards spent some time walking around  the waterfront and Rose Kennedy Greenway. The Greenway is often cited as, essentially, what is wrong with urban planning.  Big empty space, uninspired design, poorly conceived maintenance systems, flagging state support and consistent failure to realize extremely lofty goals for large, new civic buildings such as a museum.  And I agree with a lot of these assessments — a lot of the time, the Greenway just ends up feeling like empty public space.  The lesson?  Just creating a space, however attractive or well-located and well-marketed, doesn’t mean that people will use it.  But people were using the Greenway, and its attendant spaces, quite a bit on Saturday.  It was a BEAUTIFUL day, …