Taking a Stroll With a Guide to Understanding Cities

In his critique of "Urban Code: 100 Lessons for Understanding the City," San Francisco Chronicle Columnist John King says how the book's formula for a city doesn't do justice to its authenticity.
September 28, 2011, 1pm PDT | Kristopher Fortin
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King takes out the book for a stroll during an afternoon in San Francisco to put the "100 Lessons" to the test.

"Many lessons were applicable as promised. People indeed walk in the sunshine (No. 1), often at a pace that shows they have a destination in mind (No. 87). I zigzagged a jaywalk through the perennial molasses of Third Street near Market, a variation of lesson No. 83, that 'pedestrians walk on a red signal, if traffic is slow.'"

Yet King was not in complete agreement with some lessons.

"Other lessons, though, are too New York-centric ('Wares are stored in the cellar,' No. 38), or too tied to the retail behemoth that SoHo has become. Almost two dozen dissect the behavior of shoppers and vendors, as if that is the key to neighborhood vitality."

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Published on Wednesday, September 28, 2011 in San Francisco Chronicle
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