Kind of a weird one, but is there a good coffee table style book that shows the evolution of cities from earliest times to modern ones, specifically on their overall infrastructure?
I’ve got this oversize book at home which looks at the development of several major cities over time. Can’t remember the name though. However, while looking for that I found this:
That could be even more accessible and is certainly much, much, more recent than the huge musty old brick of a tome I’ve got.
Here we go, I’m home now. Edited by Arnold Toynbee, it’s called Cities of Destiny (pub.1967) and while a coffee-table book, certainly, it’s not all that glossy and pretty by today’s standards. There are many illustrations and maps but the whole thing is very text heavy.
From the inside cover flap:
From Jericho to New York. This is a magnificently illustrated history of the city - it’s origins, development and ultimate domination of the civilized world. In the words of Arnold Toynbee, ‘This book is addressed to the worldwide public, and its field is the whole world since the earliest cities made their appearance.’
Three crucial stages in urban history - city-state, capital state, Meglalopolis - are defined in Professor Toynbee’s forwards to the corresponding sections of the book, which bring together nineteen chapters by the world’s leading historians describing key cities at the height of their greatness. Here, rendered with unusual vividness, are Athens in the Age of Pericles, Goethe’s Wiemar, Imperial Mexico City, Muslim Cordoba, eighteenth-century St. Petersburg, medieval China’s fabulous Chang An, Christian Constantinople, the Paris of Abelard, Medicean Florence, Victorian and Edwardian London, and more until, finally, the complex variety of New York and Constantinos Doxiadis’ startling essay on Ecumenopolis, the coming world wide city.
You know, actually, musty and huge or not this really is a cool book.
The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs is not what you’re looking for but it might be what someone else intrigued by the thread title is looking for. I hear it’s a great book about city planning and can change how you view the urban environment. That’s good enough to earn it a place on my “read before dying” list.
As for illustrations, the book says this: “The scenes that illustrate this book are all about us. For illustrations, please look closely at real cities. While you are looking, you might as well also listen, linger and think about what you see.” I like the cut of her jib.