Session at the European Association for Urban History Conference: Cities in Motion 2020
As cities became cut-through and extended by infrastructural networks, the relationship between the city as an idea and the city as an object has been increasingly mediated by tools that try to give form to a seemingly formless urban realm. In this session, we aim to explore how statistics, maps and diagrams represented the moving city, made urban flows manageable, and fostered new planning ideas.Session content: As cities became cut-through and extended by infrastructural networks, the relationship between the city as an idea and the city as an object has been increasingly mediated by tools that try to give form to a seemingly formless urban realm. Infrastructural networks added a particular mobility to the city that became difficult to comprehend without recourse to specialised maps, models and management tech-niques. In this session, we aim to explore how statistics, maps and diagrams represented the moving city, made urban flows manageable, and fostered new planning ideas.
In the 1830s and 1840s, public hygiene, urban statistics and mapping techniques made a leap forward, infrastructural networks were introduced into European cities, and concepts of circulation became central to political thinking. Since then, traffic networks and sewage systems extended the city above and beneath the surface. Statistical maps and tables recorded the resulting flows and demographic move-ments, and network diagrams made new coherences visible which questioned old city limits: by 1900 the production of urban data became common practice in municipal planning. These new representational techniques guided political decisions and changed urban planning insofar as cities had become abstract entities composed of streams, zones and networks. By the 1960s, the image of the networked city had emerged, when new subway systems formed city regions of unprecedented scale. This urban growth was again accompanied by scientific interpretations offered by cybernetics and systems theory that promised technical control of all the movements made by the growing multitude of commuters.
The session focuses on the representational techniques and conceptual models that make the city-in-motion visible and addresses their impact on urban politics and urban planning. Studies of singular cities and cases are welcomed as well as histories of the formation of new planning ideas. While the 19th and 20th centuries are clear examples, we welcome papers from a broad geographical and chronological field that extend the session’s theme. The main point is an epistemological one: How do figures of knowledge and abstract notions emerge from concrete urban histories and how does this knowledge inform urban development?
- Spokesperson: Laila Seewang, Portland State University
- Co-organizer(s): Christa Kamleithner, Humboldt University Berlin
- Keywords: Infrastructure | Mapping | Planning
- Time period: Modern period
- Topic(s): Architecture and urbanism | Intellectual
- Study area: More than one continent