Fetishizing Families: Review of ‘The Human City’

Kotkin has long been a contrarian and critic of contemporary planning — sometimes a perceptive and welcome one, especially when urbanists, myself included, have gotten too cute or too smug. “The Human City” is probably his most comprehensive critique and surely his most off-putting.

California’s Immaculate Conception

At roughly the same time that the Founding Fathers were ringing the bells of revolution on the East Coast, California was nearly empty. It had no cities and only a modest fur-trading economy. It was a land crying out for a story — an empty soundstage, if you will. The role into which Serra grew, according to Steven W. Hackel in Junípero Serra: California’s Founding Father, was that of “a pioneer, a religious icon, and as a colonial imperialist.”

The Original Big Digs

The gridlock in American cities today doesn’t compare to the crush on streets in Boston and New York City in the mid- to late-1800s. In The Race Underground, Doug Most chronicles the occasionally synchronous development of the nation’s first subways.