Images, Themes, and Urbanography

  • Lloyd Rodwin
  • Robert M. Hollister
Part of the Environment, Development, and Public Policy book series (EDPC)


This collection of essays explores a symbolic realm of urban images and themes. Too frequently, this realm is treated as a backdrop, whereas it deeply influences the plot and characterization. We tend to be only dimly aware of this city of the mind that is the focus of the analyses presented in this book. The thoroughfares and buildings of this invisible city control our movement as much as do the actual streets of New York, Indianapolis, or Bombay. They are tangible to us as metaphors or symbols—the city as a creature of the state, the city as a machine or as an organism, the central city as a jungle or a reservation. Indeed, the concept of the city as a state subdivision or the likening of the city to a machine may presuppose the existence of a body of deeply held ideas—constraining or mechanistic notions whose power is immensely greater than that simply of an apt (or stale) figure of speech.


Urban Study Thematic Image Urban Problem Thematic Origin State Subdivision 
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  1. 1.
    The forerunner of this concept appears to have been A. Malraux’s notion of a “museum without walls.” A. Malraux, The Voices of Silence (New York: Doubleday, 1954). The idea was later extended to the city by many persons. For one example, see S. Carr and K. Lynch, “Where Learning Happens,” Daedalus 97 (1968): 1277–1291.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
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    N. Long, “The City as Reservation,” Public Interest 25 (1971): 22–38.Google Scholar
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    Holton used the notion of themata or theme to refer to the “dimension of fundamental presuppositions, notions, terms, methodological judgments and decisions… which are themselves neither directly evolved from, nor resolvable into objective observation on the one hand, or logical, mathematical and other formal ratiocination on the other hand”—Thematic Origins of Scientific Thought: Kepler to Einstein (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1974), pp. 28–29 and Chapter 1.Google Scholar
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    The Image of the City (Cambridge: The Technology Press and Harvard University Press, 1960).Google Scholar
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    For a comprehensive review of research on urban images in this tradition, see A. Rapaport, Human Aspects of Urban Form (New York: Pergamon Press, 1977 ). See also Kevin Lynch’s observations in Chapter 9.Google Scholar
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    Land Use in Central Boston (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1947).Google Scholar
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    The Country and the City (New York: Oxford University Press, 1973).Google Scholar
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  25. J. Lokjine, Le Marxisme, l’état et la question urbaine ( Paris: PUF, 1977 ).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lloyd Rodwin
    • 1
  • Robert M. Hollister
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Urban Studies and PlanningMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Department of Urban and Environmental PolicyTufts UniversityMedfordUSA

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