THE HEART OF OUR CITIES by Victor Gruen

THE HEART OF OUR CITIES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Report repeated from p. 488 when scheduled for early summer publication, as follows: ""The Heart Our Cities is like a spring tonic for anyone who has amused himself over the winter browsing through the on-going barrage of city-planning literature Gruen, an environmental architect, has devoted himself to the problems of urban blight because 'The city is a creation of man and as such should serve man and should be molded to do so.' He backs the theory of cooperation between private enterprise and government in the transfiguration of the cities' cores, or hearts, and contrasts the striking cooperative success of Rochester, New York, with notably less successful all-government ventures. He assesses the possibilities of plans now on the drawing-boards of Boston, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and many other cities large and small, focuses on the five major types of 'false friends of the city' (such as the traffickist and the projectite), and pinpoints exactly the worst faults of 'civic centers' for government and 'cultural centers' for the arts. He posits a strong case for the revival of pedestrianism in terms of the values of health, relaxation, window-shopping, and sociability. Although he has long been reviled as an enemy of cars, he says -- it is implied throughout the fabric of this book -- that he is afraid, not of the automobile per se, but of 'our present attitude toward it.' His tables and charts are simple and documentary, not awe-inspiring. His text is interesting to read, dynamic and crisply instructive, and is bound to be widely quoted as urban citizens' groups pursue the inescapable arithmetic of (urban) heart failure through the echoing halls of city government.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster