What Makes an Attractive City?

School of Life’s video outlines 6 points on What Makes an Attractive City:

  1. Variety and order - Order means balance, symmetry and repetition… Order is one of the reasons so many people love Paris… However, excessive order can be just as much a problem.”

  2. Visible life - There are streets that are dead and streets that are alive. And in general, we crave the live ones.”

  3. Compact - All the most beautiful compact cities have squares… The ideal square must offer a sense of containment not claustrophobia.” 

  4. Orientation and mystery - By definition, cities are HUGE. But the cities that a lot of people love also have lots of little backstreets and small lanes where you can feel cozy and get a bit lost.”

  5. Scale - Modern cities are all about BIG things. Joseph Campbell once wrote, If you want to see what a society really believes in, look at what the biggest buildings on the horizon are dedicated too…’ The ideal height for any city block is 5 stories high - no more… Of course, occasionally there can be a huge building, but lets keep that for something really special - something all of humanity can love.”

  6. Make it local - We don’t want building’s to look the same everywhere.”

NYC checks all of these boxes.

Variety and order. New York City is energetic and bustling, but it doesn’t feel chaotic in a disorganized way.

Visible life. NYC is a walkable city and has the best transit system in North America. As a result, the streets are alive with local shops, pedestrians, and tourists alike.

Compact. NYC has the quintessential grid system, so all the streets are numbers. Most neighborhoods are self-contained communities with everything you need like groceries, pharmacies, and banks.

Orientation and Mystery. NYC is a massive city but whatever scene you’re looking for you can find it here.

Scale. This is an interesting point because one criticism of the city is that many of the tallest buildings are expensive residential properties on Billionaire’s Row, with owners often keeping them vacant as investment properties.

Make it local. There’s no shortage of local shops, restaurants, and brands based in the city.

February 23, 2024

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