25 November 2011

the geologic city at work

Asphalt folding and flowing around a taxicab's tires. Midtown Manhattan, early fall 2011.

For those who have not yet picked up a copy of the Friends of the Pleistocene's Geologic City: a Field Guide to the GeoArchitecture of New York, I strongly encourage you to do so. The guide delves into the geologic underpinnings of New York City, from the Chilean origins of the rock salt that is spread on the city's streets every winter to the Indiana limestone that clads many of the city's iconic buildings. Geologic City is a small book that has the ability to radically change how we see urban places, to situate the flows of human and natural elements at various speeds from the speed of light or the speed of sound, to the flow of water or the erosion of stone, among the cultural and economic exchanges that are more commonly foregrounded as the work of a city such as New York City. My favorite part of the book is the inspiration it offers to conduct similar explorations of other places. While I would enjoy seeing another North American city treated in a similar fashion, it would be great to see this approach applied, for instance, to an African city or an Asian one.

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