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- Most people, no matter where they live know intuitively what a city is, and there are numerous brief and quite
reasonable definitions which describe the city. Spiro Kostoff in "The City Shaped" (Thames and Hudson Ltd, 1991)
puts a gloss on all of these with a list of nine simple premises about cities.
Kostoff's definition is interesting, and one which most people would probably be comfortable with. If we can agree
that there is much about our cities that is worthy of conserving, and that it is important to think in terms of their
character, it becomes particularly relevant because it effectively demonstrates that conservation is not just about
physical form, but must include many other considerations.
- Cities are places where a certain energised crowding of people takes place.
- Cities come in clusters.
- Cities are places that have some physical circumscription, whether material or symbolic, to separate those
who belong in the urban order from those who do not.
- Cities are places where there is a specialised differentiation of work - where people are priests or craftsmen
or soldiers - and where wealth is not equally distributed among the citizens.
- Cities are places favoured by a source of income.
- Cities are places that must rely on written records. It is through writing that they will tally their goods, put
down the laws that will govern the community and establish title to property.
- Cities are places that are intimately engaged with their countryside, that have a territory that feeds them
and which they protect and provide services for.
- Cities are places distinguished by some kind of monumental definition, that is, where the fabric is more
than a blanket of residences.
- Cities are places of buildings and people.