Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Bellevue: A Citiy of Tomorrow

Bellevue is a Seattle bedroom community, a republican bastion on the East side of Lake Washington, and one of the more anti-human and unhappy cities in the Northwest region. Beyond the consumerist core of the city center, Bellevue Square, I start to notice fewer and fewer places for humans to walk, fewer and fewer places for humans to talk to one another, until eventually, there are no sidewalks at all and I am competing for space with the sport utility vehicles and tinted town cars.

Some time perhaps during the 1970s, urban-planners in general began a movement that has signaled the city center's destruction, disrupted and rejected any bohemian style of living in favor of taller buildings and more road space. Urban and suburban centers, the new message announced far and wide, were engines of wealth creation and the parading spectacle of the new urban lifestyle.

The aim of the Keynesian city-planner is to lubricate the city for the purpose of extracting credit and increasing the velocity at which money travels from one hand to another. The strategy is to extract wealth from residents and use this flow to attract and subsidize developers to build the city's common areas. The goal is to create a stock of residential bourgeoisie. The city center was to be totally economically liquid. How 'cities' - that is, the planners and council members of general purpose areas - ever got to be in this position as the vanguard for any 'municipality' is the same story as with any nation-state vanguard. I view them much like I would view any armed mafia, except these ones have flags.

Bellevue is ironically rated by Money Magazine as one of the 25 safest cities in America. Crime level equivocates with "safety" all too easily. In these inclement climates, a new architecture, a new planning, and entire areas dedicated to the attitude of anti-human politics were erected at the expense of the human population and their happiness. The cities dispel the homeless, the black and Latino, forbid loiterers and close their doors to the non-consumers. The new centers of city life have but one ultimate purpose, to mechanize the general population and influence the flow of consumption.

Further reading:
Hall, Peter Geoffrey. Cities of Tomorrow: An Intellectual History of Urban Planning and Design in the Twentieth Century. Blackwell Publishing: Malden, MA: 2002.
Plant, Sadie. The Most Radical Gesture: The Situationist International in the Postmodern Age. Routledge. link.

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