The importance of sidewalks and a call for a manifesto or bill of rights for pedestrians. I wanted to avoid the word ‘pedestrian’ for its obvious pedestrian connotation. But, I also did not want to marginalise the pedestrian who has historical rights to entire roads to a mere sidewalk by using the word ‘sidewalker.’ So, I use both interchangeably.
‘Think of a city, and what comes to mind? Its streets. If a city’s streets look interesting, the city looks interesting; if they look dull, the city looks dull.’ – Jane Jacobs
“When people say that a city, or a part of it, is dangerous or is a jungle, what they mean primarily is that they do not feel safe on the sidewalks.” – Jane Jacobs
“I will [tell] the story as I go along of small cities no less than of great. Most of those which were great once are small today; and those which in my own lifetime have grown to greatness, were small enough in the old days.” – Herodotus
The year 2021-22 marks the sesquicentennial of Allama Abdullah Yusuf Ali. His remarkable life, caught between many worlds, was chaotic and turbulent, with its triumphs and tribulations, and a lasting legacy.
In December 1953, six months after Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, London experienced another severe winter. The same time, previous year, the city had suffered the Great Smog. Wednesday, the 9th, was freezing cold. Movement was difficult. In the evening, in Trafalgar Square, Westminster, the police found an old man in tattered clothes, destitute and disoriented, on the steps of a house. He had a suitcase full of papers, but no money in his pockets. They admitted him to the Westminster Hospital, which discharged him the next day. A London City Council home for the elderly, in nearby Dovehouse Street, Chelsea, took him in. The same day he suffered a heart attack, and was rushed to the St Stephen’s Hospital. He died soon thereafter. Continue reading “Abdullah Yusuf Ali: Triumph and Tragedy”
“In great cities, the great buildings tell you things you don’t know and remember things which you’ve forgotten. It’s a collective wisdom, an engine superior to your own intelligence. Architecture is the biggest unwritten document of history.”
—Daniel Libeskind, We mustn’t forget the deep emotional impact of the buildings around us – Special to CNN – 7/1/2015
“One century’s building is another century’s useful aberration.”
— Jane Jacobs, The Life and Death of Great American Cities
When great cities forget their great buildings,
it evokes images of falling giant trees, burning libraries, blue whale victims losing
their grips over ledges, abandoned parents, distant wails of unborn children,
and wasted memories. A visit to the Victoria Students Hostel was one such
experience, aberrations from the past. Continue reading “The Victoria Students Hostel”