Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Brief History of Cities

The first urban areas began approximately 7,000 years before present times, in what is often referred to as the Formative Stage. In these times, as in the millennia to follow, cities were mostly associated with the formation of the state, which gave rise to the concept of city-states such as in southwestern Asia, particularly in the Tigris and Euphrates basins, the Indus valley, the Nile valley and China. Urbanization also developed in Central America, the Maya Aztec area, and the Andean area of South America. These early cities were theocratic, where the rulers had divine authority and were in essence "god-kings”.  Urban growth required an urban elite, a group of decision makers and organizers who controlled the resources, and sometimes the lives of others. This stratified society which during the preceding agricultural period had remained largely egalitarian.5
From here on, cities expanded into Greece where city-states became the dominant principle and Rome with its extensive focus on infrastructure, transport and city planning in order to sustain the ambitions of the empire. Both city types focussed around an open market place which became the focus of city life: the agora in Greece and the forum in Rome. During the medieval period, faced with the technological advancements in weaponry, cities became fortifications but the wealth of European cities greatly declined during the Little Ice Age of the 18th century, which gave rise to disease ridden slums for the majority of citizens with ever increasing stratification between the classes. The pre-industrial city evolved further from here on and the consolidation of political power and the expansion of states were reflected in the growth of the cities, with eventually certain cities becoming so pre-eminent in their nations that they were referred to as primate cities (e.g. Amsterdam, London and Paris).

more about the hoitory of city and urbanization:

The history of British and Irish towns

Real Estate Brokerage to Unfettered Development: A History of Sprawl


Urban Origins and Preindustrial Cities

Form and Meaning in the Earliest Cities: A New Approach to Ancient Urban Planning

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