This is one of my half-baked ideas from when I wrote the posts on Speck's document, expanded into a "I didn't have time to write you a short blog post, so I wrote you a long one" post.
So, what is a city?
This seemingly silly question is important because it cuts deep into a lot of the important ideas behind plans like Speck's and highlights the source of the complaints about it: Why do it? Why have cities? If we can't define what we're trying to have here, we can't have a constructive discussion about it.
The dictionary defines a city simply as "a place bigger than a town" whereas a town is "a place that isn't rural." OK, that's totally useless, so here is my definition:
"A city is a place where humans chose to live closely together. They do so to engage in trade and for economic opportunities, for convenience, and to participate in the development, expression, and consumption of culture. The economic basis for the city and its expression of culture -which can only occur in an economically prosperous climate- defines the settlement and contributes to the unique characteristics of a city as well as the cohesiveness of its citizenry."
This definition held well for thousands of years, but over time, it has started to fall apart a bit as technologies have changed. Where does it still hold, where has it lost ground, and what does that mean? After the jump.