I wish the album made it clear what it means by "these cities." I agree there are many cities that do not seem much better than insect colonies.

But I'd dare any insect colony to build something as marvelous as Prague, Venice, or Kyoto.

I have not been to Kyoto but heard about it from sensei. I visited Prague many times and spent a week in Venice long time ago.

These places are hardly a detachment from nature. Venice in particular is built in accordance with nature.

Traditionally, European cities were built along either a major river or near the ocean/sea (with Venice being on several islands), so their inhabitants were only a boat trip away from nature. The cities often had numerous parks, as well as trees everywhere.

Their builders did more than snap up blocky apartments. Each building was unique. It was designed as a natural blend with its surroundings, but it was also built to be beautiful. It is a true joy just to walk through the streets of most major European cities.

Most American cities are the exact opposite, I am sad to say. The one thing I seriously miss in the US is architecture. If you have seen one American town, you have seen them all. Large sities do have some character (e.g., New York is certainly different from New Orleans), but many were designed on paper to have streets and avenues parallel to each other. They are just blocks of concrete and steel, built strictly for their functonality with no regard for beauty.

I think all American architects should be required by law to spend a year in Prague, a year in Venice, and a year in Kyoto, plus visit Rome, Lucerne, and Paris, before being licensed to practice architecture. I am not suggesting they should just copy those cities (that would be quite impossible anyway), but they would know what a city is supposed to feel like.

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