The City’s Floor: Paving and People

Authors: Karen Franck*, new jersey institute of technology
Topics: Cultural Geography, Urban Geography, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: sidewalk, street, pavement, materiality, maintenance, public space
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Mid-City, Sheraton, 8th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Increasing attention is being paid to the material character of the ground surface in and elsewhere and the consequences that ensue for human activity and experience. In The Ground Beneath Us (2017) Paul Bogard has descried the over-paving of the earth’s surface and the consequent lack of connection people have with the soil (2017) while Joseph Amato, in On Foot (2004) suggests various advantages of different kinds of paving for human (and animal) movement. Drawing on a variety of texts and images, this paper will present a description of key changes in the materiality of urban streets and sidewalks from the 18th century to the present, in the US and Europe. It will examine the consequences that ensued for maintenance and for people’s experiences, activities and interactions in the eminently public spaces of street and sidewalk.

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