This is a reply to Baldagyi Hatipoglu's latest Expecto-Rant.
Whew, that was a long one, Resty. Reposting my reply in your comments, here:
(Yes, Resty) Central Business Districts rarely have any soul. Check around any city -and the CBD would be the last place you will find authenticity.
It's in the Village, in Upper West Side, in Soho, in Tribeca that you will find people and a sense of place. Not in Lower Manhattan or Wall Street.
Same goes for London - the City and the Square Mile, even the new Canary Wharf are not where you will find the beat of the city. It will be in Covent Garden or Soho and the West End or even Notting Hill.
In Shanghai, the soul beats in the Bund and the old city -not in Pudong.
CBDs can't be the soul of a city -because CBDs are designed for soul less commerce. It is the sale and mamon that reigns and the spaces are designed accordingly. The green spaces or artwork you'll find will just be baubles and ornamentation to help the commerce make another sale or to help business put on a fancy face.
And yes, workers in CBDs -no matter how tall the offices, how proud the skyscrapers, how squeaky clean the sidewalks -will never feel a sense of pride in the CBD. That is where they work, and unless you work for an innovative, cutting edge, creative workplace (if you do, you probably don't work in the CBD), you're just another cog in the machine.
No. If we are to find our megacity's soul, we will have to find it in the authentic places. In the older restaurants and houses in Malate. In the bars along Espana. In the eateries in the University District. In the offbeat stalls in Quiapo.
(Doesn't Quiapo, with it's layers of grime, feel way more genuine than the shiny streets of the Makati or Ortigas CBDs?)
And CBDs, by their very nature, are not exactly the places to celebrate the individuality of our culture. In the age of global commerce, CBDs are meant to make the visiting businessman as comfortable as possible.
As to the gated communities. Your sense of exclusion is intended. That's why they are gated. And gated communities exist in nearly all cities. The rich would rather not rub elbows with the poor.
It is the task of good urban planning to make democratic cities -where there is inclusion rather than exclusion; where diversity and culture and quirkiness are celebrated.
If you feel like a second class citizen in the CBD, or if you feel like a second class citizen in the city -then you have two choices:
- As you said, (why not) relocate and just be a second class citizen in another city in another country in another culture. Or,
- You can work to make your city the kind of city where there are NO second class citizens. A city where everyone shares in the amenities. A city that gives you pride of place.
We all have a fundamental choice to make: to be citizens or to be strangers. To accept our alienation or engage the work of community. I hope you choose the latter.