The Rules of the City

In Dashiell Hammett's "Red Harvest" and Jane Jacob's "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" there are many coinciding themes that have to do with city life. The theme I have chosen for this art gallery is the Rules of the City as I discuss different “rules” of the city that can be found in both Hammet’s and Jacob’s book. A city can be a dangerous place and when designed incorrectly, or if the government fails to govern properly, there are some deadly consequences that can follow. Each exhibit will contain a rule that must be followed in order for a safe city, it could be in planning the city, living in it, or both.

If these rules are not followed, the city will go into chaos, this can be seen in Hammet as Personville is dubbed Poisonville though the op is skeptical at first he states "A few years later I went to Personville and I learned better." (Hammet 1) This chaos is represented in the child smoking, dead everywhere and thieves ruling the town in this piece.
The rules represent control, and when they are followed, there is peace. This is far from true in Personville as corruption controls the town and when Donald Willsson brings in the Op to help, he is shot dead. Jacobs suggests factors of safety such as controlling the strangers on the street, and keeping eyes everywhere so crime is deterred (Jacobs Chapter 2). This piece shows that control which is lacking in Hammet but is suggested in Jacobs, in this case taken by the National guard.
The First rule is beware of corruption. This piece represents the shady character who is up to no good, in which every city has some of these guys, Personville consists of mainly these folks. The Op is constantly being lied to as everyone is corrupt. Jacobs solution for government is public forums in which the people get involved with city planning and other events. (Jacobs chapter 20)
The second rule of the city is a focus in Jane Jacobs and that is that citizens eyes must remain on the street when inside because the second it doesn't, is when crimes are liable to occur. (Jacobs, Chapter 2) This illustration is great as it shows the eye overseeing the pyramid, which resembles the eyes of the neighborhood watching the streets for crime.
Another rule for the city, is to avoid dull neighborhoods, both living in and planning.“Dull, inert cities, it is true, do contain the seeds of their own destruction and little else." (Jacobs, Chapter 22) Looking at Personville it is easy to realize that it is a dull city as crime is the only excitement that goes on. This portrait displays a lady who is leaning on a quilt, bored from living in a dull city, and is likely to move out for better places.
A good rule to go by is never take shortcuts as the risk is not worth the time you'd save. “...frequent streets and short blocks are valuable because of the fabric of intricate cross-use that they permit among the users of a city neighbouhood.” (Jacobs 186) These long roads such as the picture seen here will cause people to use alleyways to get to their destination faster which does not have neighborhood eyes watching over, so it must be avoided. "I was two pavements from my destination when somebodey S-s-s-s-s'd at me. I probably didn't jump twenty feet.” (Hammet, XXIV) This is a loose example of how longer blocks of roads can cause trouble, and why streets should be shorter between blocks, as they also get dull with more buildings.
The final rule for surviving the city is with power, brings corruption, politicians and our government need to be kept in check or dire consequences will be met. “To get what he wanted, a man had to give other people what they wanted.” (Hammet 147) This favor for a favor thought process in politics leads to the corruption of Personville, and Jacobs suggests that public hearings are to be held to let the citizens voice be heard, which can help fight corruption (Jacobs, Chapter 21). This picture ties both books together in this rule due to the image of a politician thanking his supporters who he probably did favors for to obtain their votes.
The major rules of the city/environment are helpful in surviving the city but no matter how many people follow this rule there will always be problems and corrutpion in the city. In Personville even though the op succeeds,Elihu Willsson is still in control of the local government, and the town is “all nice and clean and ready to go to the dogs again.” (Hammet XXVI) This represents an endless cycle, that goes on forever in which a black hole is a good representation for.
Credits: All media
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