Using Urban Universals to Frame City Life

The two photographs below say both simple and remarkable things about how urban residents interact with each other, and the streets around them.

Neither photograph is more superior or more insightful. In fact, I see them as the same photograph, across the world.

The images suggest differential costs of building materials, streets, sidewalks and associated features. Yet, in each setting, the idle women stand in similar positions, and inferred, familiar stories emerge from observation of the passers-by.

What are the roles of form, function and design in each photograph? What scenes emerge from journeys from home to work, and the locations between? In the end, what really matters in cities, regardless of place and time?

Answers to these lofty questions lie in wait, for review in the images below.

Images composed by the author in Seattle and Arusha, Tanzania. © 2009-2015 myurbanist. All Rights Reserved. Do not copy.

For more information on the role of personal experience in understanding the changing city, see Urbanism Without Effort, an e-book from Island Press.

This post first appeared in similar form in myurbanist, here.