The Culprits of Urban Decay

This exhibit shows the relationship of safety and crime that are depicted in the works of Jacobs and Hammett. The physical layout and human population of the city determines it's safety. A culture of safety in the city is affected by inequality and crime, as discussed by Jacobs who focuses on diversity and public spaces, and Hammett who depicts crime and mob authority.

The city planning sketch depicts a mixed-use complex which encompasses businesses/headquarters, and convenient housing for workers; a public diverse space which promotes safety (Jacobs 152).
This picture depicts a "claustrophobic environment" produced by a lack of open space/diversity in cities that causes chaos and crime seen in Red Harvest. "The district must have a sufficiently dense concentration of people, for whatever purpose they may be there (Jacobs 151)."
This picture represents the inequality existing within a city, which Jacobs disapproves of. According to Jacobs, "a district must mingle buildings that vary in age and condition, including a good proportion of old ones so that they vary in the economic yield they must produce. This mingling must be fairly close-grained (Jacobs 175)."
This pictures also depicts diversity in public spaces that Jacobs describes. She claimed that areas where more people had their "eyes on the street" were more secure (Jacobs 42). She extended this argument to parks, squares, and other public places, suggesting that these spaces also hosted social ballets worthy of attention. Additionally, "horrifying pubic crimes can, and do, occur in well-lighted areas when no effective eyes are present (Jacobs 42)", relates to Personville where crime is inevitable.
This picture shows the bridge between inequality and crime which Jacobs discusses; racial inequality is possibly depicted in this picture. More importantly, this picture depicts a just system in which criminals are prosecuted when they commit crimes. Contrastingly, in Red Harvest there is a lack of a justice system (police force) for criminals, because there is a mob authority. The crimes occurred as of the corrupt actions of the characters in Personville.
In Red Harvest, Hammett's mean streets of Personville are simply a stage for a massive fiction, where gangsters impersonate as businessmen, capitalists contract with crooks, and no one is the wiser. "Poisonville" is a disturbing world where behavior is unpredictable and motivation is unclear. Crime came from all directions; crime from all directions. "Elihu Willson was Personville, and he was almost the whole state (Red Harvest, 9)" and Dinah Brand, "a soiled dove...a de luxe hustler, a big league gold-digger".
This picture represents the consequence (death) that stems from unsafe and violent cities such as Personville in Red Harvest. The Op "declares war on Poisonville" (Red Harvest, 62), and his intervention results in violent blood-bath that only ends when all of the major crooks, (with the exception of Willson and the Op) are eliminated.Hammett is trying to say that in this dark world, we all fall (die) eventually.
This picture represents the everyday violence occurring in the city of Personville which is guided by the corrupt actions of the mob authority. When the Op first arrives in Personville, he drops his bags off and immediately goes "out to look at the city" (Hammett 3), thus beginning his campaign to map its social geography of criminality in the town. The Op rides a street car though the town, hopping off upon noticing "[t]hirty or forty men and a sprinkling of women" gathered in front of City Hall (Hammett 5). Thus, he initiates a program of social surveillance that involves linking each observed subject to a particular type of urban space that reveals his or her position in the city's class structure. As Hammett's narrative moves forward, it enforces the associations between class, space, and crime with increasing intensity.Yet as the Op "looks at the city" (Hammett 3), he does so with an eye for collecting and sorting information about class and criminality with the intent of discovering patterns of regularity in its apparent confusion.
Credits: All media
This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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