Today, our class lecture subject was “The Image of the City” by Kevin Lynch. He was an American urban planer and author, and in the 1960s he published “The Image of the City” which was his most famous book. In this book, he formed mental maps with five elements: paths, edges, landmarks, districts, and nodes. Also, he created the word “imageability” in this book. The book has influenced urban planning and environmental psychology to this day.
Here are my thoughts about urban elements in my neighborhood of North Beach:
Paths fulfill our basic need to go out and travel whether on streets, sidewalks, stairway-walks, trails, or other channels. They can be straight, curving, gradient, wide, narrow, long, or short. I think paths can go point to point by design or naturally.
North Beach has a lot of stairway walks, like the stairway walks on Lombard St and Napier Lane . I often walk in these two places during the weekends. I love to see the bright and colorful flowers and get fresh air outside and do exercise. North Beach is a wonderful place to live and be active. There are also stairway walks in other neighborhoods of San Francisco such as the Mosaic Stairway in the Sunset neighborhood and Harry St.
From left to right: Lombard St, Napier Lane, Mosaic Stairway and Harry St.
Edges are the artificial or natural divisions of a region; they can be the boundary of a city to another city, one building to another, or the natural separating line of coastlines and mountains. We can find boundaries everywhere in every city. It allows us to distinguish one object from another object.
Landmarks show a city’s history and are its cultural symbols. Every city has its own different characteristics and cultures. We can find the meaning of the history and development of a city in its landmarks and in the planning for future landmarks which should follow the spirit and needs of the people living in a city. We always need to protect its witness to history. Every city needs landmarks because it reflects the people’s urban life and spirit.
Districts are necessary for urban development and to divide areas. Even though districts can show many similarities in terms of culture, history, and urban life, when a city is divided into several areas, we can easily find the different characteristics of each area. Metropolitan districts are divided using different designs to follow development plans that are good for each district. These plans enhance urban development and meet the needs of people who live and work in the city. Also they help people from different populations to find the perfect place to live. Districts are an urban planning requirement.
Nodes reflect the design details of urban planning. When planners design excellent nodes in a city, it proves that the city is following an ideal direction of economic development and future planning. One important function of nodes is to allow a city to communicate with the outside world. Transportation nodes create more economic and human development for the city. Therefore, urban planners should design transportation nodes for the public because they make it more convenient to travel to work and other places in order to live. This is one of the most important element of our modern cities.
This is a transportation terminal in San Francisco. It has a simple, modern, and beautiful design.
Urban acupuncture is an urban development planning technique used to make functional improvements within a specific range. Urban acupuncture can give us renewable energy and a dynamic and prominent personality to the city. Planners can use urban acupuncture to revitalize and improve abandoned areas and to preserve history and create value.
I prefer that a city preserves its history and culture with contemporary development planning that combines preservation with our future needs. With economic development and an open society, more people choose to live in the city because living in the city allows people to enjoy more convenience, quality of life, and more jobs opportunities. Cities are growing bigger and bigger, but the people’s living spaces are getting smaller and smaller. So urban acupuncture is particularly important because it would make better use of urban space and landscaping. The photos below show an example of urban acupuncture: the high line park in NYC.
In class, our instructor Amily mentioned parklets and I have found many in my community. I think that people like a modern leisure destination. When we are tired of walking on the street, it is nice to find parklets to sit down to drink some coffee, or read books, or enjoy the sun, or hang out with friends. This is a new trend, and more and more people love this new cultural element. I did some research about parklets and found this quote from a blog on the internet, “Since early 2010, 21 Parklets and the Powell St Promenade have sprouted up across San Francisco, a few ‘parklets’ are making the rounds, and seeds have been planted for more to grow. Speaking of which, proposals for new parklets are due by December 5, the process, application, and guidelines for which are online”. I collected pictures of some neighborhood’s parklets below: