How Cities Derive Their Identities
While visiting Paris, a city with a strong identity, San Diego landscape architect David McCullough reflected on his own city. He noted the impression many people have that Southern California cities are largely the same.
In the end, he comes to a conclusion that applies to all cities, even those in California—the newest of the new world cities. It's a conclusion that would make Jane Jacobs proud: San Diego's—and all cities—identity is in its diversity:
I believe that diversity is equivalent to character and diversity cannot be created. It has to happen organically or it’s ingenuous. I believe it happens over many years. So, the longer a community has to evolve typically the richer it is . . .
I believe planners and policy makers should take a second look at the things we may have missed. Like or dislike them, we should build upon them and definitely try our best to preserve or make them better. Most importantly, never destroy them for “progress.” We should encourage diversity, on all fronts. The richness of a great city is truly in its diversity. We need to embrace this. We should stop over-planning and let our society evolve naturally and organically. We need to remember that diversity is not just an aesthetic, it’s evolution over time.