Fun in Cities: Feature, Not Bug

From P.D. Smith, a man who knows cities and fun:

I’ve written a piece for Arc 1.2, the new digital quarterly from the makers of New Scientist, about cities and fun:

“Every year for three whole days in the picturesque Piedmont town of Ivrea, Italy, some three thousand people pelt each other mercilessly with oranges, until the streets are covered with eight inches of golden citrus gore and the gutters run with juice. Welcome to the Battle of the Oranges, part of Ivrea’s Carnival festivities. In this age of mushrooming megacities, Carnival is a boisterous reminder that urban life has proved so popular in the last five thousand years not just because of the economic benefits, but because cities are fun.”

Buy the issue – titled Post Human Conditions – and read the whole article, “Built for Pleasure”, here.

via Pleasure Cities | PD Smith | Kafka’s mouse.

I wish more cities recognized this. While you’re waiting for that to happen, do yourself a favor and order a copy of Smith’s City: A Guidebook for the Urban Age, which will hit the U.S. next week. It’s a wonderful book: BldgBlog meets Italo Calvino. Gorgeous, smart, fun, and full of surprises, like wandering all the world’s great cities at once. Here’s the opening of the rave review from Jonathan Yardley at Washington Post:

Half a century ago, Lewis Mumford published “The City in History,” a hugely influential and in some ways controversial book that has been the Bible for students and lovers of city life. But that was half a century ago, and around the world the cityscape has undergone enormous changes. A new look at this great subject has for some time been needed, and in “City: A Guidebook for the Urban Age,” P.D. Smith provides it. A British scholar connected to University College London, Smith is less philosophical and more empirical than Mumford, but if anything this is welcome, as “City” is wholly accessible to the serious general reader.

I’d add that it’s way beyond accessible: It’s irresistible.

And be sure to follow Smith on Twitter and at his fine blog, Kafka’s Mouse.

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