Manipulating cities

Urban areas often fall victim to many stereotypes that affect the mindset of their residents and, effectively, the physical environments. In Jacobs and Hammet's works are manipulations of certain aspects of city life with the effect of gaining power, improving, or destroying the traditional functionality of cities in their current state.

Perspective on the physical aspects of the city manipulates the behavior of those living in it. "The result was an ugly city of forty thousand people..." (Hammet 4) In the case of Red Harvest, an ugly city reflects upon its leaders, ensuring crime and disorder on its streets. Jacobs attempts to resolve this issue, "There must be a clear demarcation between what is public space and what is private space. Public and private spaces cannot ooze into each other as they do typically in suburban settings or in projects." (Jacobs 35)
"It was a nice half hour's ride, with everybody getting a chance to sit in everybody else's lap." (Hammet 121) While Hammet satirizes the assumed crowding that is a stereotype of the urban environment, Jacobs seeks to functionally transform the cityscape, "Too much dependence on private automobiles and city concentration of use are incompatible. One or the other has to give." (Jacobs 349)
In every city are isolated places of refuge that warp the community around them to serve as small presentations of natural beauty in a modern world. Jacobs challenges the tradition of completely removing these sectors from routes of daily life as an asset to the general functionality of the environment and the wellbeing of its inhabitants. “They can belong to the world of the street and, on their other side, to the world of the park, and be charming in their double life. They should be calculated, not as rims shutting off a park (that would be terrible) but as spots of intense and magnetic border activity.” (Jacobs 266)
Within cities, there is a certain expectation of communal responsibility to keeping the streets safe, traditionally by maintaining an effective police force, "The Herald said the chief of police could show his own lack of complicity by speedily catching and convicting the murderer or murderers." (Hammet 13) Jacobs suggests that the physical presence of shops and lighting on the streets must be an added protection standard, "Second, there must be eyes upon the street, eyes belonging to those we might call the natural proprietors of the street. The buildings on a street equipped to handle strangers and to insure the safety of both residents and strangers, must be oriented to the street." (Jacobs 35)
Undoubtedly, in an area with so many people, like urban environments, there is both good and evil. Unfortunately, evil often perverts the landscape of the city and the minds of its people, “Play with murder enough and it gets you one of two ways. It makes you sick, or you get to like it.” (Hammet 155)
The expectation of mobility and urgency is one of the most recognized in urban areas. “Everyone is aware that tremendous numbers of people concentrate in city downtowns and that, if they did not, there would be no downtown to amount to anything--certainly not one with much downtown diversity.” (Jacobs 201) While residents typically have a positive collective identity, implying a certain pride in their hometowns, Hammet's characters reveal no such fondness, in light of its corrupt quests for power. "I first heard Personville called Poisonville by a red-haired mucker named Hickey Dewey in the Big Ship in Butte... Later I heard men who could manage their r's give it the same pronunciation." (Hammet 3)
Perhaps one of the most visible manipulations in any city is that of money. Often heavily unbalanced, it leads to tension and suffering. “Thus, from this process, one or few dominating uses finally emerge triumphant. But the triumph is hollow. A most intricate and successful organism of economic mutual support and social mutual support has been destroyed by the process.” (Jacobs 243)
“This damned burg's getting me. If I don't get away soon I'll be going blood-simple like the natives.” (Hammet 154) The ultimate manipulation of a city is the individual's desire to make his or her mark on their environment, rather than blend in like so many around him. “Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.” (Jacobs 238) Jacobs believes this is the foundation of an effective city, allowing everyone to manipulate their own personal environment to benefit each person in his own way.
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