Seems like a simple question, right? I’ve heard many different explanations from a wide variety of people. I have even heard wide-ranging opinions from people with similar backgrounds and formal training/education. So what is a city to you, what comes to mind when you hear the word city, and has your opinion changed over the years.

What a city is to me (Overview):
Wikipedia defines a city as an urban settlement generally with a large population. The definition I had when I was younger was much simpler…I thought of cities generally as the places where all the tall buildings were. Pretty simple, I know, but that was where it all began and where my interest (in cities) stems from.

Since that time the meaning and my opinion, of cities, has greatly evolved. I think of cities as living/breathing places that have their own heartbeat and rhythm. This rhythm is set forth by the cities people and then ultimately that rhythm dominates the culture until a major force acts upon it.

A city is a place of diversity (of all kinds – not just race), it is a place of culture, unique local experiences, uncertainty, and people…lots of people. Sometimes these items can be good, sometimes bad…but in the end they are the things that makes cities – cities. Nowadays when I hear the word city my mind starts racing and jumping all over the place seemingly impossible to tame – kind of like a city I guess.

Image Credit:
Yves Tessier, Tessima/Quebec City Tourism

Interesting related reads:
Who’s Your City by Richard Florida
The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs

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Randy is an award-winning urban planner who founded UrbanCincy in May 2007. He grew up on Cincinnati’s west side in Covedale, and graduated from the University of Cincinnati’s nationally acclaimed School of Planning in June 2009. In addition to maintaining ownership and serving as the managing editor for UrbanCincy, Randy has worked professionally as a planning consultant throughout the United States, Korea and the Middle East. After brief stints in Atlanta and Chicago, he currently lives in the Daechi neighborhood of Seoul’s Gangnam district.