"This is what dreams are made of" - The Maltese Falcon

The following exhibit illustrates the juxtaposition of leadership in two cities; 1950s lower Manhattan in The Death and Life of Great American Cities and the town of Personville/"Poisonville" in the novel Red Harvest.  It compares the themes seen in each of "what their dreams are made of." 

"...neighborhood physical planning for cities should aim at these purposes: First, to foster lively and interesting streets." (Jacobs, 1989) This is the first of many city planning strategies she gives us to rehabilitate a neighborhood. Jacobs's dream for the city of Manhattan is one in which communities come together on wide, busy sidewalks. When people are given places to express themselves, walk to work, and feel safe, they will be less likely to engage in crime in other public places.
"Second, to make the fabric of these streets as continuous a network as possible throughout a district of potential subcity size and power." (Jacobs, 1989) The desire to see this picture manifested for the city, is what Jacobs's dreams are made of. She imagines a group of hands working together to promote networks within the community that will extend throughout larger areas.
"Third, to use parks and squares and public buildings as part of this street fabric." (Jacobs, 1989) An ideal urban environment, in Jacobs's vision, is one in which each piece of the landscape, from the skyscrapers to the green-space, is all focused on community togetherness and promotion.
"Fourth, to emphasize the functional identity of areas large enough to work as districts." (Jacobs, 1989) This final piece represents only the fourth of many strategies Jacobs outlines for us. What is crucial for us to remember, is that her theory is based on a basic love for the city.
"He had given his city to them and he wasn’t strong enough to take it away from them. He couldn’t openly break with them. They had too much on him. He was responsible for all they had done during the strike." (Hammett, 2010). Personville was a doomed city from the start because its "dreams" were manifested in a corrupt mind. Elihu Wilsson was so desperate to cling to power that he was willing to place its survival in the hands of criminals, destroying the city further in the struggle.
“Mr. Willsson wants to issue a ten-thousand-dollar check to the Continental Detective Agency... The letter is to state clearly that the Agency is to conduct the investigation as it sees fit.” (Hammett, 2010) The "dreams" of the city are motivated by the money fueling the Continental Op. In the end, like the shell money, coins and bills hold only as much value as we give it but its power is blinding.
Personville's dream is uncovered, in the end, as a nightmare. To cleanse the city and promote its welfare, those in power brought it violently to its knees. No one was safe from the pull of its corruption, the Continental Op included.
"I spent most of my week in Ogden trying to fix up my reports so they would not read as if I had broken as many Agency rules, state laws and human bones as I had." (Hammett, 2010) The Continental Op believed that he was working toward the goal of cleansing the city. What he didn't know was that there were many hands guiding his course. He was ultimately only a moment in the larger history of personal vendettas and corruption brought on by Elihu, Thaler, and Noonan but the effects on the city (and its people) were massive.
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.
Translate with Google