World class cities demand something of those who step within their boundaries. To travel to such cities is to be drawn into their unique energy, and to experience elements that can challenge familiar frameworks of thinking. The urban theorist and historian Lewis Mumford emphasized the magnetic attraction of such places, which exert their powers upon people, capital, and culture alike.
This course will examine three prominent North American cities — Boston, New York and Washington, D.C. — through travel and direct observation as well as through course readings, lectures and discussions. Equipped with knowledge of the history, architecture, art, culture, and politics of each of these cities, students will have the opportunity to directly experience the space and sound of these influential urban environs. This course offers students the unique opportunity to reflect upon how each city’s historical, social and political culture is made visible and formative in the experience of its streets.