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Urban Extremes In Sri Lanka

The Sri Lankan tourist destinations of Ella and Galle are microcosms of urban trends worldwide: one is a boomtown and the other is a boutique city.
March 3, 2018, 5am PST | Josh Stephens | @jrstephens310
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Galle, Sri Lanka

"Galle is the delightful, and predictable, result of history and density. The irony of contemporary city planning is that, of course, our contemporary accumulation of knowledge and technology mean nearly nothing. Galle could not be built today. It wouldn’t have enough parking. It would be too dense. The walls would block someone’s ocean view. And so we treat places like Galle as rare, precious jewels, as if they can arise only from the furnaces of the Earth."

"On face, Ella is ugly, corny, and as congested as it is remote. People go there largely for a circular but powerful reason: other people. It is a classic backpacker town, where tourists gather to meet strangers, swap stories, have drinks, and, yes, engage in the sort of revelry on which locals might frown. But its human density gives it a spirit that belies the cinder blocks."

"As Charles Mudede wrote recently in The Stranger, Seattle’s alt weekly, all cities are either Seattle or Detroit: “A city losing capital or attracting it. There is no alternative.” True as it may be, that dichotomy is incomplete. There are variations among those two poles. In the “Seattle” category, there are the Seattles and there are also the Houstons. Even in Sri Lanka, this process of urban development plays out in microcosm." 

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Published on Tuesday, February 27, 2018 in Common Edge Collaborative
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