HISTORY OF CITIES

The question of the History of Cities is one that is an important one for any society. Cities foster and represents the identity of a much larger space across geographies and time; be it a region, state or nation. Cities arethe places where larger civilization ideas and characteristics are forged and represented. Rather than view cities as an entity represented through statistics of people and economic output, it will be worthwhile to visualize them as essential places where human culture is nurtured and projected. It is a social space that is fundamental to our identity either as individual or groups. Lewis Mumford argued that Cities is the stage where the human drama is enacted; a kind of daily performance of people with others leading to our identities, sense of community and thereby forging the very idea of a city(Mumford 1961).

Cities are the sites of cultural production and a cultural product in itself. The story of evolution of cities in terms of its structure (tangible and non-tangible) and form is really the story of the pursuits and struggle of societies in forging places that represent the key ideas of theirtimes. The layers of history in cities of today carry with them memories of the past which are very much part of our present and define the way we negotiate and mould them for future(Boyer 1996). The idea of City as a place of memory device has been much debated and emphasized formally by thinkers such as Aldo Rossi, in the 20th century, much as a reaction to the Post War modern cities that imagined the urban space as a physical artifact alone(Rossi, Ghirardo, and Eisenman 1984).

The story of cities tells us about the complex relationship of culture and nature. The ability of human being to socialize nature itself is perhaps the fundamental departure that needs to be understood in the context of cities.

Urban History of Form and Space
from beginning till today

Article

EXCERPTS

"...The Greek cities represented these ideals very well. The main heart of the town was the Polis, which was the highest point of the settlement: an open space around which many temples of Greek Gods were organized. The many temples and other allied structure of state functioning together formed a large space that became the place for people to gather and discuss the matters of societal importance; it was the symbolic heart of the city with temples as the backdrop..."

"..The Indian medieval cities in North and western India are good example of cities that were formed by traders and merchants governed by the various princely states with Hindu religious belief system providing the moral conscious to the citizens. Many of these cities show organic street pattern, fort walls, moats, markets and many building of religious significance. Many experts believe that Indian medieval cities cameabout more due to infill’s rather than outwardly growth; The boundary and gates of the city were marked and built first and then slowly the city quarters were filled with buildings over a long period of time..."

Pratyush Shankar