This is a blog about cities and how we live in them.
Hi, I'm EJ. I was born and raised in Vancouver. After a year in the great city of London, I am now finishing my university studies in Philadelphia.
In many parts of the world, towers are synonymous with poor standards of living. They evoke the vast commie blocks of Sao Paulo, European suburbs where immigrants are crammed together in public housing, and the projects of the Bronx.
But in Vancouver, named again and again one of the “most livable cities” in the world, towers are a way of life. Hundreds of them fill the downtown core. So what makes Vancouver different?
Well, some would argue, there’s the view.
Their is an incentive to be high above the ground in order to get a better view of the natural surroundings.
But there’s more. Vancouver has created a model that specifically defies the problems that have plagued towers in the past, namely a lack of street front. By combining the tower with a podium base, each building has a “face” on the street.
Parks and pathways integrated with the buildings also allow for car free public spaces, which encourage people to come together, and make this kind of living possible for families with children.
Toronto is just like New York…without the stuff.
30 Rock. Hilarious.
As long as cities have existed, there has always been the question of what to do with their former inhabitants. In ancient Athens, for example, burial was banned within city walls. In other instances, graveyards were simply shoved aside, placed in far off corners of the metropolis where people would not frequent.
The Protestant Cemetery in Rome is such an example:
As is Père Lachaise in Paris:
Near where I live in Philadelphia, the Woodland Cemetery is one of the earliest examples of the garden cemetery, which became popular in 19th century America. Built in what was then a fashionable suburb, it provided a greener alternative to the crammed churchyards of center city.
It’s getting to be mid-February now, that time of year when the sun pokes its head up and says “maybe i’ll stay”. Though it is still a long road until full fledged spring, there is definitely hope in the air.
Here in Philadelphia, where it has been quite cold as of late, we find ourselves in the middle of a warm snap. Though it will surely become cold again soon enough, I am reminded of my childhood in Vancouver, a city in which February harks the beginning of Japanese cherry and plum blossom season. Though these trees are rare here, I find myself searching for them, longing for the blossoms.
Blossoms in West Philly
Brooklyn Botanical Garden
Spring arrives in Vancouver (courtesy of the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival)
I visited Chicago for the first time last summer. I had passed through O’Hare many times before, but never had the chance to make it into town, to escape the airport sprawl that looks exactly the same no matter what city you’re in. I had never even seen the towers of downtown, though I had looked for them always. I was only in Chicago for a day and half this past August, but the city made an indelible impression on me.
When I flew through Chicago again in January, I finally got what I had been looking for - an aerial view of what is arguably the greatest skyline in America, possibly the world.
The most productive time waster I have discovered so far. An amazing resource for urban planning/architecture nerds and those that want to be just like them.