Keep up with essential planning news and commentary, delivered to your inbox every Monday and Thursday.
About City Gates and Gateways, With a Political Gloss
In a time of urbanization, refugee and "arrival cities," Wolfe asks, how and why would a city differentiate itself from its barrios, suburbs and exurbs? If so, what form would this entry take, or would it have any form at all?
He then examines the signature, historic, feature of urban grandeur—the city gate—which was once the point of access to and from walled cities, championed by Biblical passages championing safety, and defense. He discusses gates as ornamental artifacts, and how, ironically, public art sometimes remember city gates that that never were, and how cities like New York bestow the "Key to the City" as a symbolic gesture in honor of civic contribution.
With gate-less cities came less restricted gateway, he notes, with the historic, defensive city gate lost to history (with the exception of "gated community" residential enclaves, security-based, but often seen as inequitable). He concludes with a description of modern, often virtual gateways, including a first, virtual visit by Google Street View mouse clicks from across the world. Yet, with irony, he observes: "Even in this age of ubiquity, maybe nothing has changed. In this political year, some among us still need tangible structures to assert the power and defense of times gone by."