Invisible Cities: The city of memory

| 0 Comments
In the city, sometimes it's hard to remember what was there before what's there now existed. It may have been a building you used, enjoyed, admired as you walked past. It burned or was neglected to death or demolished for new development. How easily it is forgotten.

There are iconic buildings that are remembered even if never seen in actuality. For example, every time I walk by the "sinking ship" parking garage I see the old Hotel Seattle that it replaced. How could this tiny garage be more valuable than that building? Its loss was the impetus for historic preservation in Seattle. It may have eventually been lost anyway, to fire or earthquake, we'll never know, now.

DSC_0061

We lose bits, or major portions, or even entire cities for reasons preventable or not (think climate change; earthquake). Many places are thoroughly documented in the digital record thanks to omnipresent cameras and cellphones. I'm not up to date on the tech but I believe there are apps that can show you the historic record of the place in the city you are currently looking at. You might see the city in composed layers of transparency and diffusion, like layers of history over time (see poem in previous post).

This reminds me of Italo Calvino's novel Invisible Cities, where Marco Polo is using objects from cities he has visited to explain them to Kublai Khan, who doesn't share a common language. Now (or soon) we can say "there's an app for that".

Leave a comment

Recent Entries

Invisible Cities: The city of memory
In the city, sometimes it's hard to remember what was there before what's there now existed. It may have been…
On design in the context of history
Contrast and balance of past and presentCompressive stone, tensile steelSteady past containing (in part)The springing moment of nowHistory and its…
The Weight of History
I was dismayed to read that this building in London was to be demolished as part of the rebuild of…