On the cover of this book you are placed high in the air above a metropolitan city. Below you and stretching far out into the distance are an unfathomably large amount of amber lights, each one a window or a streetlight or the headlights of a car.
Behind each light there are people …somewhere at least… though there’s no chance of seeing them from this height.
You can make out tall, skinny buildings reaching up to the sky but what you mainly see is a oneness. Like the mass of this city makes up a single identity so large that you can’t even see the boundaries of it.
The scene is definitely beautiful. Not the beauty of landscape paintings of grassy fields and mountains basking in the bright sun or anything like that though. The light in this scene is almost exclusively coming from the city itself, and the choice of the time of day that this picture was taken, dusk, serves to highlight the self-made light of the city.
In this book the sun is setting and is giving way to a million glittering squares of amber. There’s no mistaking the majesty of the city in this picture and it’s easy to get swept up in the hopeful feeling it projects. And for this I think the photo on the cover of this book was a great choice. One only has to read the title and subtitle to see that it supports the promise of the book very well:
That’s a heck of a title and description. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen such an optimistic characterization of cities outside of maybe old 50’s reels about such things as “The City Of The Future”. However, this book cover communicates this level of optimism very well without cheapening it.
Large cities like the one on this book’s cover tend to have reputations of being smog laden, tree-less, and even rat infested zones of human congestion. So the curiosity of what makes cities greener and healthier encourages people to come take a closer look and maybe even thumb through some pages of the book.
I’m not sold on it but I think this claim that cities are ‘humanity’s greatest invention’ is an interesting one, and even just the idea of thinking about cities as an invention is something new for me. However, this Triumph Of The City by Edward Glaeser isn’t a book that I’m going to be adding to my reading list. As interesting as the topic and potential paradigm shift about cities seems, this subject feels like it would be better to read as a long essay or blog post, instead of something to sit down and read through in book form.
Even an entire blog dedicated to this topic I think would be more enticing to me because the reading would be spread out over time and a little more varied. Still, it’s got a great book cover :).