Daily Archives: July 30, 2002

Urban spaces

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The least of cities contains spaces that are more interesting than the best of suburbs. Little spots of magnificence, little spots of decay, little spots of history. You wonder, looking at the bare brick on an outside wall, what happened to the building that used to be attached there, when it came down, who may have lived there, just a couple of blocks from the State Capitol. I spent a wonderful half hour in a semi-secret garden behind City Hall, watching the patterns the breeze made in the ivy that climbed up one of Richardson’s more lighthearted designs. (Note to self: be sure Richardson did City Hall.) Just a delightful way to spend time.
I heard not too long ago that one of the things that most distinguishes the human brain is its ability to distinguish patterns (often even when they are not there). It made me think of all the different patterns there are to a river . . . the ripples that you see on the surface, gathering into the patterns of waves and riffles you see as a canoeist, which assemble further into different patterns that are visible from the air, and from still farther away still different patterns. Wind is the same, harder to see. Did this ability help us to thrive and survive? Maybe it’s the thumbs.
Community swimming pools are a very good thing. Just thought I’d mention that. I don’t quite understand owning your own swimming pool, but I’m pretty chore-averse. For the fifteen minutes a day I would spend in the water, I’m willing to let somebody else do all the work.