Handbook of Cities and the Environment
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Handbook of Cities and the Environment

Edited by Kevin Archer and Kris Bezdecny

With an ever-growing majority of the world's human population living in city spaces, the relationship between cities and nature will be one of the key environmental issues of the 21st Century. This book brings together a diverse set of authors to explore the various aspects of this relationship both theoretically and empirically. Rather than considering cities as wholly separate from nature, a running theme throughout the book is that cities, and city dwellers, should be characterized as intrinsic in the creation of specifically urban-generated ‘socio-natures’.
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Chapter 2: Urban imaginaries of City and Nature

John Rennie Short

Abstract

In this chapter I will explore the historical connections between Nature and the City. The capitalizations represent the more general themes rather than the specific objects. I will consider four broad themes that correspond to a sweeping historical trajectory, with ruptures and continuities. In “Nature Incorporated” I will look at how the early cities incorporated Nature. From the frescoes of Çatalhöyük, when the division between Nature and the City was new and slight, to the urban gardens of today’s contemporary cities I will show how city residents incorporate Nature in different ways. In “Nature Planned” I will examine the rise of the more formal incorporation of Nature in city parks that arose as a Romantic response to rapid urbanization. I will look at the evolution of city parks, such as the Bois de Boulogne in Paris from royal preserve to bourgeois play space to its present role as a setting for the nighttime sexual economy. In “Nature Overcome” I will look at the rise of the modernist city and especially its premise of the mastery and defeat of Nature. Urban modernism for all intents and purposes involved the marginalization of Nature. In “Nature Recreated” I will look at the present day greening of cities from New York’s High Line to Seoul’s Cheonggyecheon and especially the resurrection and creative recreation of an urban Nature.

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