What is it about the city that I love so much? The lights, people everywhere, the noise, and just the overall feeling that comes over me when I’m in the city. What’s interesting about a city are the things that come together to make the city what it is; things that on their own, wouldn’t classify as a city, but when brought together measure up to a city. It is the things that I mentioned earlier, like the buildings, the cars and public transit, the people, etc. that make a city a city.
Beyond that, there are some cities that are intentionally created as cities, and others that accidentally become cities when all the components come together on their own or by accident – as Dostoevsky writes in Notes From Underground, “Cities can be intentional or unintentional.” Here he refers to St. Petersburg as being an intentional city that was planned and erected all at once, both spatially and intellectually, instead of coming together over time. Are cities that form unintentionally perhaps more authentic and enjoyable to live in? Who knows, but the Underground Man might think so, as he is not fond of St. Petersburg in part because it is so precisely and methodically planned out. The city’s plan, more so than just being physically planned out, also seems to have a plan for its residents; people are expected to be and act a certain way and the Underground Man doesn’t like it.
Cities that I am particularly fond of – Chicago, Rome, Paris – have been partially planned out to a certain extent during certain time periods, but not entirely planned out all at once like St. Petersburg. They have gradually come together over the centuries and are still continuing to form and develop. So what is it that I like about the city so much? There is something about a city that encapsulates infinite possibilities in a way that the country does not offer, to me anyway. The country, which seems to go on forever in every direction certainly can seem to possess infinite possibilities, and it may well do so, but in a different way than a city does. When you look out onto a city, a big one anyway, it also may seem to go on forever in every direction, but that is not the kind of infinity that I mean. I mean, that cities seem to offer infinite intellectual and cultural possibilities for what one can become as person in that city. And this is what I like about the city…all the things that one can do in the city, and all the things that one can become in the city.