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Another City


In 1855, it was predicted that the greatest cities of the 19th century would be urbanized and civilized. This was meant that people would be made inhabitants of the city with the quality and manners of the people in that city. They would become citizens by living in the city and conforming to society. -Gianna Banish

According to Upton, Walking cities are all in essence, superficially similar. Generally, walking cities took on a “T” shape with the top of the “T” being near a body of water and the middle line of the “T” representing the main street of the city serving as a place for local commerce. Institutions usually set up shop around the outskirts of the city because they needed more space and it was generally cheaper to be located farther away from the center of town. However, as location varies so does the experience of living there (i.e. Philadelphia v. New Orleans). -Khalia D.

American people living within cities were themselves changed because of their environment just as much as they changed the cityscape around them. Upton explains how living within and building cities altered urbanites’ understanding of themselves as citizens of a republic. People living in cities relied on others’ appearances and actions in order to judge their character. Within a city filled with a multitude of sensory distractions, it is difficult for city dwellers to focus on the people around them when surrounded by sensory chaos. Excessive smells, sights, and dizzying sounds which characterized cities changed the way people interacted with each other. In order to create a least some visual focus, people of higher social and economic standing attempted to organize buildings within cities. This is what leads to extreme uniformity in some cities as buildings were built using essentially identical floor plans and exterior decorations. Even some pre-existing structures were altered to match new designs. Some houses were built in exactly the same way, with no variation, next to each other. An example of this can be found in New Orleans on Julia Row; the houses were called the Thirteen Sisters. In other areas of the cities, buildings were designed intentionally to stand out against the uniformity of those around them. Such buildings were often home to organizations meant to change or help the people using them. Churches, libraries, and fraternal orders were a great example of this as many built the largest most ornate buildings in order to attract attention. However, most of these organizations could not afford to pay for the ornate structures and often rented out spaces within it to cover the costs and build the community’s trust. ~Morgan G.

Upton’s Another City is mentioning a statement that implies that there is a form of “Intellectual History” of Architecture that is limited to the development and schools of thought. There are judgments made about the world and the way people affect it, that does include things like common politics, social, economic, religious, and even medical beliefs that were all considered intellectual in that ideology. This would play a factor in Architects’, Builders’, and clients’ ideas with what the build environment should be made and used. This explains as to why “architecture” is a heterogeneous category, involving the idea of formally systematic ideas that are limited to the official or trained expositors. They are all acquired outside the audiences who would be using them in the weirdest way possible. These ideas would often be reliant on metaphors and schools of thought shared with extradisciplinary channels, implying that the ideas don’t go in one direction only, but in multiple directions. This would be the reason that we call it an intellectual history of architecture, even with it being much more open-ended than regular histories.

This history is different from the older ones in another way too. The ideas that rarely have lineages that can be tracked in a quasi-genealogical manner. It is difficult to track changes in informal intellectual realms, where those connections and transformations are oblique, multiple, and unrecognized. The Intellectual History of Architecture that Upton wants to examine is the linguistically and experientially based. The architecture itself is linguistic because it is more often imagined metaphorically and analogically rather than being worked out according to formal rules of logic or rhetoric. It being experimental because those metaphors and analogies that acquire their force through the corporeal participation with our surroundings. - Hunter D.

Chapter 1: Cities of Perpetual Ruin and Repair

Upton describes the difference of the New Orleans of 1790 to the New Orleans of 1840; this is an apt description of the theme for this chapter. The dramatic increase in the quality and quantity of these new technologies swiftly overtook the previous methods of city building. Not only did these new transportation options increase the size of the city, but the new building techniques that have become available ruin the old and repair it into something entirely different. (Daniel Noel)

Not just about all of the American cities of the time, Upton goes into detail about New Orleans' uniqueness. Beyond its location, the demographics of those living the area was always diverse. Former sailors, freed black people, slaves, settlers, New Orleans accepted all kinds. The blend of French, Spanish, and English in forms both word and body created a special hybrid: the Creole people. The city even had three municipalities, one ruled by the Americans, one by the French, and the last by a multi-ethnic grouping of peoples. It took until 1852 for these confusing differences to finally be put down and for the city proper to join together. (Daniel Noel)

Cities during the 19th century were a place of “perpetual repair and ruin.” Every decade saw an increase in average height and scale of buildings created during the different time periods. Cities were not only forever changing within themselves, but they were also changing the environment around them through “regulation” projects. These projects included draining swamps, widening roads, and building levees in order to expand the city areas outward. Most cities were built around water access, as this was where most of the economic opportunities were located during this time period. Many cities were formed in a bell shape around a T-shaped armature in which the waterfront intersected the armature. This basic, informal design was created due to social and occupational pressures and needs by city dwellers. Despite a city’s natural inclination to grow in this bell shape, some people, like William Penn, attempted to plan new cities in a more organized grid fashion, in Penn’s case between the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers. While at first most of the settlement occurred along the Delaware River, over time it began to follow the grid-like plan stretching towards the Schuylkill River. This was largely due to the improvement of land transportation, which allowed people, who could afford it, to move further away from their place of work. However, this migration eventually created areas within the city that began to exhibit similar social and ethnic characteristics. While no neighborhood was completely homogenous yet, this was the start of neighborhoods becoming exclusively made of one social, economic, or ethnic group.~Morgan G.

A notable and important addition to the city were the institutions for the health of the citizens. With new transportation, the hospitals and asylums could be built away from the sprawling city. They were built in a way that had the city protected in a circle of institutions. As the techniques for making the city bigger and better improved, slowly those to help those who lived within it changed as well. (Daniel Noel) The reason these institutions would be built on the periphery is due to the fact that one, there was simply no room in the city center and two, the costs for land on the outskirts of town was much cheaper than those properties in the city center. -J.Binns

There were many more enslaved peoples in New Orleans, as opposed to Philidelphia, over half the population were enslaved, black people. In New Orleans, enslaved people lived in the Creole cottages, which were very small/cramped, had a courtyard, lifted up to prevent flooding, and very poorly constructed. In New Orleans, there was a sharp change in architecture, Creole cottages would typically “throw off” the vibe that New Orleans was trying to put out. In Philidelphia, slaves would typically live in the home with their masters and then moved out of the cities to build their own homes once they were emancipated. Additionally, the 13th amendment had taken effect in Philidelphia, so enslaved people were gradually being freed, so there were very little blacks still enslaved. New Orleans was much more culturally diverse. There were populations of French, Spanish, American, Caribbean, African, etc. people, creating a melting pot of culture and ethnicity. Philidelphia was not as culturally diverse, they did not have anywhere near as many as other ethnicities/cultures/languages present within New Orleans. - Devin Wright

Chapter 2 “The Relics of Civilized Life”

Upton begins chapter two by discussing “the relics of civilized life,” meaning the odors that come from human and animal waste such as spoiled food and free-range livestock all living in a high-density area mixing with the scents of shops and slaughterhouses. Most cities in the 1800s had little or no effective draining systems. Boston’s sewage was fairly advanced, but places like Louisville used large, deep ditches maintained by slaves and rarely cleaned, causing even more odor and sanitary issues. Those who did not have outhouses dumped their waste into the streets along with garbage, causing waste management problems too great for authorities to handle. Waste dumping was even more rampant at the waterfronts, and attempted remedies, such as water pipes leading out past the waste at the shore, failed.

Relics of civilized life were troubling because people became dependent on their connections with their surroundings. Elizabeth Drinker writes about how she became lost while on a walk with her son because she became deranged by these relics. She lost herself in the smells and led her child in the wrong direction and couldn’t pinpoint where she was until she came across a known landmark. -Gianna Banish

Another aspect of this urban pollution came from industrial cities such as Pittsburg, where factories produced massive amounts of air pollution. The hot and humid climate in places like New Orleans made the air and odor pollution worse, even in places that weren't particularly industrial, causing illnesses, mosquito infestations, and death.

In addition to the odor pollution, city dwellers suffered constant noise pollution from travel on stone-paved streets, manufacturing, “loud and repeated cries of fire,” (pg 46), bells, and street vendors. Constant smells, sights, and overwhelming sounds made worse by weak infrastructure and lack of government regulations caused the sensory overload that was characteristic of cities.These problems, being worse in certain areas of cities, led to changing accounts of the “self” and how individuals related to their environment. City dwellers relied on their senses to navigate their surroundings, and areas of sensory overload often interrupted this relationship, and made the connection between the senses and comprehending one's surroundings less straightforward.

The air pollution and stench of the city, as many thought back then, was the cause of disease is spread throughout the city airborne. Many people shot off guns, lit gunpowder, carried garlic with them, and dosed themselves in vinegar in response to getting rid of the smell. The upper-class neighborhoods were at an advantage due to a closed sewer system installed near them, opposed to the open sewer system given to the lower class citizens, which was one of the major causes for the disease to spread, and a lack of sanitation. - Benny S

Dell Upton’s Another City goes through how cities changed over time. Building structures started to change with regulations and different techniques, for example, draining swamps, widening streets and cutting down hills. Building influences also came from different parts of the world. In New Orleans that had creole cottages which were a style that came from the Caribbean. Not only did Louisiana provided influences of building styles but also multiplicities that provided different laws. The multiplicity provided three laws and governments each different from each other. They were Old Vieux Carre by the French, Faubourg Sainte- Marie also known as American Sector and Faubourg Marigny. The multiplicities soon disbanded in 1852. Upton explains not only how they cities develop for the better but also the challenges that cities faced. Upton mentioned how cities had sanitation problems which affected air quality and the waterfront. Poor caused people to have health problems and to wear a mask when going out into the city. – Jasmine Williams

Chapter 3: The Smell of Danger

The smell eighteenth and nineteenth-century cities must have been a vial. But the understanding that smell caused disease is interesting to think about. The idea may be wrong, but the theory is not really that far off in some cases. The smell does not transfer illness, but illness can be transferred through the air. It is interesting to think that people believed that smoking a cigar could prevent illness. Upton tells us that Americans lilt bonfires, and burned tar, gunpowder in the streets. Did the smoke help in any way and repel the mosquitos that were causing yellow fever? Deborah Hunnel

What they didnt realize until much later was that the true reason people were catching yellow fever was due to Mosquitos. Mosquitos carried the disease and infected those within their range. Despite not knowing the truth of the matter, people drew the conclusion that certain areas of the city were safer than others to live in. People at the time also believed that moral standing correlated with health. The idea was that the more morally upright one was, the less likely they were to contract diseases. - Khalia D.

Cities during this time period smelled horrendous. Also, during this time diseases spread very quickly. Eventually, people attributed the bad smells to the spread of infectious diseases, believing the smell itself was the cause of the infection. This could be considered the earliest form of Germ Theory.

Mosquitoes and yellow fever were a huge epidemic. People took many measures to stay healthy. They believed smoking, drinking and having good morals were all ways to prevent people from getting sick. -Sherronda Robinson

Chapter 4: Noise and Gabble

One of the elements of noise that was most disturbing to white Anglo-Americans was the multiplicity of languages present in many of the cities across the U.S. An illustrative example of these fears is ‘flash,’ a code language favored by criminals meant to obscure conversations from those not in the know which was frequently portrayed by contemporary accounts as some sort of incomprehensible babble that allowed unsavory elements to fleece the well-to-do without their knowledge. Anglophone America had a similar, if less hysterical, reaction to the non-English languages which flooded into the working-class districts of many coastal cities. An interesting illustration of language anxieties can be found in New Orleans where “language became a weapon in the struggle between English- and French-speaking factions” (72). Anglophones insisted on the exclusive use of English to exercise control over their environment while French became a language of resistance to American domination. -Jason Elms

Despite all the complaints about the noise of urban life, there were those who actually found the noise a necessity, Noise not only served some practical purposes but was also just a sign of life. It was also representative of urban social interdependence. During this time, people who were figuratively on the bottom of the totem pole were able to find their voice despite not having the “credentials” to be able to speak to an audience. -Khalia D.

Chapter 5: Seeing and Believing

The nineteenth century urban dandy illustrates the concept of gentility by his overbearing excess. A dandy is, per Upton, someone who “distorted the conventions of gentility in an effort to be seen” (91). While gentility prized the bounding of the human body to meet contemporary beauty standards, the dandy took this to extremes, such as padding their shoulders or wearing ostentatiously large versions of traditional gentile fashion. While his body was too constrained by clothes, his actions were not constrained enough. Be it his awkward movements brought by his restricting clothing or his lack of proper respectable manners, the dandy made a mockery of the ideals of cultured and respectable virtue which the urban gentility aspired to. -Jason Elms

Black Americans were particularly discouraged from attempting to dress in gentile fashion. It was considered ridiculous for blacks to attempt to emulate the dandy fashion. It was thought that the body type of African Americans weren't suited for the silhouette that dandy fashion called for. To make jest of blacks who tried to dress in gentile fashion, “Zip Coon” emerged. This very silly looking caricature served as a way to show what supposedly happens when African Americans attempt to dress like dandies. -Khalia D.

upton_another_city.txt · Last modified: 2019/05/07 13:32 by