Document details

The Heart of Our Cities
The Urban Crisis: Diagnosis and Cure
Victor Gruen


THIS BOOK comes straight from the battle lines of the daily fight for a better urban environment. To all the heated discussion of the sociological, historical, and psychological theories of city planners, Victor Gruen adds the vitality that can only come from hard, practiced experience-in planning, in designing, in actually building. He not only knows the history and theory of his subject but he has encountered and often conquered political, financial, and administrative resistance to wise choices. The freshness and vigor emanating from this experience, tinged with the author's native wit and skepticism, make the reading of this book both a jolt and a delight. In a prepublication review, the critic Virginia Kirkus calls it "a spring tonic for anyone who has amused himself browsing through the ongoing barrage of city-planning literature."

Mr. Gruen is himself very much a human being. As the distinguished architect Philip Johnson has said, "His is a civic art, a civic sense…. You can't say there's anyone like him." This architect-planner places the highest values on civilization, health, comfort, convenience, and enjoyment. His entire book is informed with this point of view. In the planning of cities, he says, all other considerations have to be subordinated to this fundamental aim. A simple philosophy, but a profound, practical, and energizing one.

Major attention is paid to the problems of the core of our cities, which Mr. Gruen calls their heart. Believing that the heart of our cities plays the same vital function in the urban organism that the heart plays in the human body, he feels that the revitalization of the heart area of our cities is one of our most urgent tasks.

In spite of the keen awareness of the manifold problems and threats to urban life that is apparent throughout the book, the work is basically constructive and optimistic. With wit, urbanity, and irrefutable logic, Mr. Gruen analyzes the problems, diagnoses the sickness, and not only discusses ways and means of curing the disease but explains them through actual workable examples.

Over 150 illustrations, chosen by the author from his own files, graphically show both the present state of urban deterioration and the emerging new urban pattern.



Source type Book
Language en
Document type Book
Media type text
Page count 378
Pages pp. 1-378


Id 7267
Availability Lendable
Inserted 2024-02-21