February 19th, 2014


July 26th, 2013




But the simplest and most radical thing that Ridley Scott did in Blade Runner was to put urban archaeology in every frame. It hadn’t been obvious to mainstream American science fiction that cities are like compost heaps—just layers and layers of stuff. In cities, the past and the present and the future can all be totally adjacent. In Europe, that’s just life—it’s not science fiction, it’s not fantasy. But in American science fiction, the city in the future was always brand-new, every square inch of it.




Cities seem very important to you.




Cities look to me to be our most characteristic technology. We didn’t really get interesting as a species until we became able to do cities—that’s when it all got really diverse, because you can’t do cities without a substrate of other technologies. There’s a mathematics to it—a city can’t get over a certain size unless you can grow, gather, and store a certain amount of food in the vicinity. Then you can’t get any bigger unless you understand how to do sewage. If you don’t have efficient sewage technology the city gets to a certain size and everybody gets cholera.


[emphasis added]



See Also: WordSalad.WilliamGibson

November 26th, 2012

What is this building?

unidentified building in Bagdad

I saw this burning during the original month of the Iraqi war; I’ve never been able to identify what it is.

I ganked the photo from, where it illustrates an article on a forthcoming five-star hotel. But this building predates the war, and I believe that the hotel is new construction.

UPDATE: 2013.09.21 It appears to be the (old) Iraqi Ministry of Defense. So it presumably was bombed to a shell.

From the air (google-maps)

another photo

Can be seen in the background of this photo (page in Turkish)

Aaaaand here is somebody who identifies it as That Flaming Iraqi Building – you know the one.

And has shots of it burning, what I remember from the news as well.

I should have thought of THOSE search-terms before….

October 10th, 2012

from reflections on the St. Louis City Museum (BoingBoing):


But here’s the thing about the The City Museum: It is actually built out of the city. It is the city. And the city is ancient.


I’m not just talking about “ancient” in American terms. When European explorers showed up on the banks of the Mississippi in 1673, there was already a city at the site of St. Louis — a huge network of mounds and earthworks dating back to the 10th century. Much later, in the late 19th century, this was the location of the fourth largest city in the United States. People are drawn to St. Louis and they have always been drawn to St. Louis.


The last 100 years or so are an aberration in that pattern. But what’s 100 years to a 1000-year-old city? Meanwhile, in that blip, The City Museum rises, literally built from the cast-off parts that other people left to rot. The welded metal and the glass mosaic; the ferris wheel and the airplanes; cement and rebar; an entire collection of beautiful, carved cornices and architectural details left over from the heyday of Euro-American St. Louis — it’s all been salvaged from the dying city and pieced back together like a prayer.


See Also


the ancient city of tlos

May 3rd, 2012

BoingBoing directs us to cityscapes made (carved) from books.

January 20th, 2006

BLDGBLOG: “The city as an avatar of itself”

Olivo Barbieri’s aerial photographs achieve a distinctive look by photographing from a helicopter using a tilt-shift lens — a method, he says, that ‘allows me to choose what I really like in focus: like in a written page, we don’t read [it as an] image but one line at a time.’

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