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  • feedwordpress 08:01:23 on 2016/06/16 Permalink
    Tags: , Genseric, , roman, , , , urbanization, Vandals   

    “By its nature, the metropolis provides what otherwise could be given only by traveling; namely, the strange”*… 


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    How did cities emerge? Where were they located? How did they change over the course of human civilization? How did they change their surroundings?

    The answers to these questions are available, but hard to access. The United Nations World Urbanization Prospects, for example, only tracks urban populations and their locations from 1950 on, and so offers only a small, relatively recent snapshot of urbanization. The work of the historian Tertius Chandler and the political scientist George Modelski is much more extensive. The two painstakingly gathered population and archeological records from as far back as 2250 B.C. The problem, however, is that their data exist in the form of tables that are stuffed with hard-to-decipher numbers and notes.

    new paper published in Scientific Data takes a stab at mapping the information Chandler and Modelski gathered. Yale University researcher Meredith Reba and her colleagues digitized, transcribed, and geocoded over 6,000 years of urban data…

    More at “Mapping 6,000 Years of Urban Settlements.”

    * Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities

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    As we take it downtown, we might recall that it was on this date in 455 CE that the Vandals completed their sack of Rome.  Three years earlier, the Vandal king Genseric and the Roman Emperor Valentinian III, had betrothed their children, Huneric and Eudocia, to strengthen their then-new peace treaty, but had delayed the wedding, as Eudocia was only 5 at the time. But on the 16th of March in 455, Valentinian was assassinated, and Petronius Maximus rose to the throne.  Petronius, more concerned to consolidate power than to observe the decencies, married Valentinian’s widow, Licinia Eudoxia, and had his son Palladius marry Eudocia. Genseric was not amused; he sailed immediately with his army to Rome.  The Vandals knocked down the city’s aqueducts on their way to the gates– which were opened to the invaders after Genseric agreed to Pope Leo I‘s request that he not raze the city nor murder it’s inhabits wholesale.  The Vandals satisfied themselves with treasure and with a group of “hostages” including Eudocia and her mother.  Petronius Maximus and Palladius had killed by an angry Roman mob before Genseric arrived.

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  • feedwordpress 08:01:13 on 2014/05/16 Permalink
    Tags: before and after, , , , oral history, , , Studs Terkel, then and now, , urbanization   

    “What I like about cities is that everything is king size, the beauty and the ugliness”*… 


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    … an observation that gets truer with time.  Whether built from scratch…

    Dubai, UAE, 1990-2013

    or rebuilt…

    Tokyo, Japan, after WWII in 1945 and 2013

    in the developing world…

    China’s high-tech hub, Shenzen, 1980-2011

    or the developed…

    Paris, France, 1900-2012

    … cities just keep on changing, as global commerce spurs development worldwide and millions move from rural to urban lives.

    More “then and now” photos of other cities at “Before and After.”

    * Joesph Brodsky

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    As we admit that it’s tough to keep ‘em down on the farm, we might send empathetic birthday greetings to Louis “Studs” Terkel; he was born on this date in 1912.  Trained as an attorney at the University of Chicago, but graduating into the Depression, he decided instead to be a hotel concierge– a post he soon deserted for the stage.  In one of his first gig as an actor, he had a cast-mate also named Louis, and was asked to pick a nickname; he chose the moniker of his favorite fictional character– Studs Lonigan, of James T. Farrell’s trilogy.  

    In 1934, Terkel began to do radio production for the Federal Writer’s Project, which led to his own program, which daily aired on WFMT in Chicago for 45 years.  Over the years he interviewed  Martin Luther KingLeonard BernsteinBob Dylan, Dorothy ParkerTennessee Williams, and Jean Shepherd, among many, many others.

    But Terkel is perhaps better known– certainly beyond the reach of Chicago radio– for his writing, largely oral histories of common Americans– e.g.,  Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great DepressionWorking, in which (as suggested by its subtitle) “People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do,” and The Good War”: An Oral History of World War Two, which won the Pulitzer Prize.

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