Cover

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Frontmatter

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Contents

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p. v

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Preface

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pp. vii-ix

This book argues that, contrary to what many detractors believe, today’s society is still creating real human places. Theme parks and suburban sprawl and anonymous functional places such as airports and parking lots are more than nonplaces. To see them aright, we have to measure...

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CHAPTER ONE: Places Today

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pp. 1-27

CRITICS OF TODAY’S CITIES AND SUBURBS often appeal to idealized older places. Earlier, people enjoyed Paris and the hill towns of Italy, or Charleston and small-town America. Now, we are stuck with banal suburban sprawl and vapid city entertainment centers. We have tourist...

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CHAPTER TWO: What Is a Place?

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pp. 28-52

JUST WHAT ARE PLACES, and how do they come about? Places are sometimes opposed to mere expanses of space, and that is one contrast I will be making. Often today places are also opposed to what are called nonplaces in another sense, all those malls and subdivisions and theme...

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CHAPTER THREE: Place Complexity

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pp. 53-80

WE HAVE ALREADY EXAMINED some key characteristics of today’s places and offered a theory about the nature of places; this chapter turns to criteria for evaluating and improving contemporary places. I suggest a criterion using the term complexity. This offers leverage on contemporary...

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CHAPTER FOUR: Commodification, Systems, and Places

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pp. 81-106

THIS CHAPTER EXAMINES place complexity in relation to the claim that contemporary places have become overly commodified. With attention to the second and third dimensions of complexity mentioned in chapter 3 (complex processes of local interpretation, and complex relations...

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CHAPTER FIVE: Full Theme Ahead

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pp. 107-135

THEMED PLACES SEEM EMBLEMATIC of the worst of contemporary places. A student once remarked that she had enjoyed Disney creations until at architectural school she learned that Disney was the Evil Empire. Themed places sin against modernist canons of honesty. They also...

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CHAPTER SIX: Suburban Promises and Problems

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pp. 136-161

AS WITH THEMED PLACES, it is common to cite sprawling suburbs as emblematic of what is wrong with places today. Yet the suburbs remain the destination of choice for most Americans. Can the criterion of complexity suggest ways suburbs could take fuller advantage of the positive...

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CHAPTER SEVEN: Toward More Complexity in Suburbia

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pp. 162-189

THE PREVIOUS CHAPTER ARGUED that suburbs are more complex places than many critics admit. Are there ways that suburbs can become more self-aware about their own growing complexity and involvement in larger linkages and processes? This would not solve all their problems...

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Afterword

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pp. 190-192

UNHAPPY WITH TODAY’S PLACES, Christian Norberg-Schulz denied that they could be real places where we could settle and dwell: “The essence of settlement consists of gathering, and gathering means that different meanings are brought together. . . . the modern world is...

Notes

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pp. 193-231

Bibliography

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pp. 233-250

Index

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pp. 251-267