Thursday, October 26, 2006

Humanizing the City

In all of the literature that we have examined throughout the semester, the city has played a role of vast importance, even to the point where it can be considered a character. And as we have seen, regardless of the location of the city, be it in Sub-Sarahan Africa or in the South Pacific, we have observed that the city, in general, is connected by many of the same elements. There is this humanizing element of these novels that create a metaphor, connecting the city to a living, breathing human being. In Black Rainbow, there is a connection between the streets in the city and the veins in a human being. "The city throbbed around us. We were in one of its veins. (Wendt, 28)" This passage gives the feel of a beeting heart, and gives the city importance on a level other than as a place to live. The city is, in fact, a place that lives. The Women of Brewster Place is the latest example of such a metaphor. Very early on in the novel, on page two, in fact, the reader obtains that imagery: "...it seemed as if Brewster Place was to become part of the main artery of the town."

As I read the descriptions of Brewster Place, my mind could not be redirected from the image of two iconic housing developments in the Lower East Side of Manhattan: Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town. These are two examples of middle class housing projects -- not upper middle class, not lower middle class, simply middle class. The neighborhoods have been making headlines lately, as MetLife has just sold them to a private real estate developer. Residents fear that this sale could eventually lead to the destabilization of rent, or even find themselves homeless, if the developer decides to re-draw the Manhattan skyline. To these people, Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town are much more than bulidings, they represent their familis, their lives and in turn, have become part of their families. Much like Brewster Place, Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town have transcended the typical definition of "city" and have become human.

The idea that a city can take on human traits is important, especially as we explore and discover Baltimore. Oftentimes, it is easy to write something off if we do not know anything of it, yet it becomes that much harder to do that when we take the time to get to know of it. I have uncovered more of the City of Baltimore in this one short semester, than I have in the previous three years that I have spent atttending school at Loyola. I believe that I am begining to see Baltimore on a more intimate, individual basis, rather than generalizing and drawing conclusions based on that. Ether way, we must asknowledge that Baltimore is a living, breathing entity that is hurting for our help.