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The Image of the City (Harvard-MIT Joint Center for Urban Studies Series) Paperback – June 15, 1960

ISBN-13: 978-0262620017 ISBN-10: 0262620014 Edition: 1ST

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Product Details

  • Series: Harvard-MIT Joint Center for Urban Studies Series
  • Paperback: 194 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; 1ST edition (June 15, 1960)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262620014
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262620017
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.2 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,073 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"...a readable, tautly organized, authoritative volume..." Architectural Forum



"This small and readable book makes one of the most important modern contributions to large-scale design theory. David A. Crane Journal of the American Institute of Planners

About the Author

Kevin Lynch (1918-1984) studied with Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin and later obtained a Bachelor of City Planning degree from MIT. After a long and distinguished career on the faculty of the MIT School of Architecture and Urban Planning, he was named Professor Emeritus of City Planning.

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Customer Reviews

I recommend anyone interested in urban design read this book.
Falconress
Lynch's methodology is really fascinating- he was basically the pioneer of mental mapping and this research method shows up quite well in his piece.
kate n.
This book describes mental maps obtained from residents in several cities such as Boston, Los Angeles and Jersey City.
Frank Frazier

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

106 of 109 people found the following review helpful By Frank Frazier on December 22, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book describes mental maps obtained from residents in several cities such as Boston, Los Angeles and Jersey City. The mental maps were materialized on paper through an interview process and combined with maps from many individuals. And the results are surprising. Each map is a composite image of the city (and hence, the book's title) that reveals not only the character of the place, but gives you a feeling for it. In Boston for example, the streets are very disorganized, so people give directions by using landmarks almost exclusively. On the other hand, in Jersey City, with extremely uniform architecture, directions are given by street number and points of the compass. An unusual discovery concerns very long streets in Boston. They appear on the map with missing sections - these sections are totally invisible to the people interviewed. In many cases individuals were unaware that Washington street in one neighborhood is a continuation of Washington Street in another neighborhood. These blind spots affect how people move around, it affects the directions they give to others and it contributes or reinforces fears they may have about certain neighborhoods. The book moves from these maps and observations and tries to develop rules of thumb for urban design. People feel more comfortable and perhaps more anchored if they know where they are in space and in relation to visible landmarks. Some cities provide this comfort level more effectively than others - this book tries to find root causes. It's no wonder this is a classic.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By John F. Dreha on July 17, 2006
Format: Paperback
Given that this book was written in the 1950's, it is still relevent to current urban design thinking. It must have been very innovative in the 1950's.

Once the reader gets past the unusual layout of the book and the out of date language, there are many useful urban design concepts to be found in this little book.

Pathways, boundaries, disconnects and nodes are all discussed from varying points of view, using notable USA cities as examples.

One point of relevance is the statement that there is not one city in the USA that could be considered a great example of urban design (as stated in the 1950's). As an Australian, I could say the same of Australian cities. The Australian cities of Sydney and Brisbane are terrible examples of urban sprawl. The north-south spread of Greater Sydney now covers almost 200 kilometres.

The principles stated in this book are still relevant to urban designers today.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Mert Cubukcu on April 30, 2001
Format: Paperback
The urban setting is a composition of nodes, landmarks, paths, edges and districts, accorsing to Lynch. This physical summary of urban landscape may not be satisfactory for some. However, for others, including me, this book is a great help in forming a design perspective at the city level. It does not matter at all if you have just started forming your perspective or working on the final details. The book should be in your library, and the design guidelines should be in your mind, not only when designing a peace of urban space, but also when you are just wondering around.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By kradomski3 on December 7, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Reading Kevin Lynch is like getting a new pair of glasses. Nothing has actually changed in your surroundings, but you see things differently. Legibility, or readability, is an important part of navigating the city landscape. To study this "we must consider not just the city as a thing in itself, but the city being perceived by its inhabitants" (Lynch 3).

The city is a constantly growing experience. As you move through a city you are experiencing things in an expanding way. "At every instant, there is more than the eye can see, more than the ear can hear, a setting or a view waiting to be explored. Nothing is experienced by itself, but always in relation to its surroundings, the sequences of events leading up to it, the memory of past experiences"(Lynch 1). There is always something more to add to how you experience the city. These memories and experiences of a city become meaningful to the people who live there. To Lynch, visual quality of a city and the mental images associated with it are of upmost importance when studying the urban landscape.

A city can be considered a very important and powerful symbol of a society. In The Image of the City Lynch explores the cities of Boston, Jersey City and Los Angeles revealing the knowledge of the inhabitants and how they view their city. When asked to describe a city, any person would say that a city is a collection of "streets, buildings, sidewalks, bridges," but Lynch prefers to describe the city as a interrelated connection of paths, edges, districts, nodes and landmarks. Paths are the channels through which the observer moves and that constitute the predominant element in their image, whereas edges are linear elements that are not paths- they are lateral references, sometimes boundaries.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Brandon P. Deneault on June 16, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My teacher suggested that we buy this book while I was in an Urban Planning class and I am very happy I listened to him. He often referred to this book as the "Bible of Urban Planning" and I see why. Kevin Lynch created a precedent over 50 years ago and his ways are still being practiced today. The fact that, as I said, the book was written over 50 years ago and it is still extremely credible speaks volumes for how advanced his thinking was. Cities from Boston to Los Angeles are designed based off of the ideas mentioned in this book. For the final project in this class I was required, with my partners, to redesign an urban area using what my teacher called "Lynch-ese," referring to the architectural language described by Kevin Lynch. I firmly believe that this book is a must read for anyone remotely interested in urban development and design. In my case it helped open up a new window for me and allowed me to learn an aspect of architecture I never really researched before. Since this class and reading this book I've found myself loving being able to study the urban aspects of areas and figuring out how Kevin Lynch's ideas are shown in a particular space. After my positive experience with this book I don't know how anyone can possibly have anything negative about Kevin Lynch's "The Image of the City."
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