Prior to reading City Life, I had never thought much about Urban Planning, other than to lament at the failures of civil engineers who designed terrible parking lots or accident-inducing intersections. Rybczynski’s book really made me start thinking about why roads ended up here or buildings placed there.
I read Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America as both an undergrad and a graduate student. The book is pretty much standard reading for all political science students. To be honest, I never really paid much attention to de Tocqueville’s description of US cities. I mostly skimmed through to the parts about democracy (ya know, the parts I was going to be tested on.)
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If you liked the book, you should check out Radio Lab’s podcast about cities, called, thoughtfully, Cities.