McKenzie’s Top 10 History of Cities Facts, Week 4/5

I have compiled a list of what I consider to be ten of the most interesting facts regarding the History of Cities! Take a look!

  1. To understand the history of a city, it is first important to understand human civilization before cities officially established themselves. According to chapter two in our textbook, humans appeared on earth about 200,000 years ago. Before cities and established civilizations lived small groups of nomadic tribes. These groups, which were between 25-50 people, would follow the animals they hunted in accordance to the seasons and the vegetation of the land. When the animals moved on, the camps would follow them seeking food and other resources such as skin and fur for clothing. These groups were hunters and gatherers and relied mainly on animals and the constant change of nature in relation to their region’s elements.!/4/4@0.00:14.6
  2. Jericho is considered the oldest city in the world. Located where present-day Israel stands today, along the Dead Sea, Jericho was already an ancient city when pyramids were being built in Egypt a solid 10,000 years later. Jericho has been known for its immaculate and ahead-of-its-time innovations. Jericho was the first to use sun-dried brick to build their houses, have a tower, and a wall surrounding the city which suggests that there was a strong and organized division of labor. Jericho would see ruination and rebirth a couple more times over the next few thousands of years, proving not only it’s resilience, but also the strong and important relationship between technology and the city. Jericho is interesting on a sociological level because it provides insight into humankind’s ability to create a structured and functioning infrastructure. It proves that humans have always been able to adapt to their surroundings. Below is Jericho, surrounded by it’s huge wall creating what is known as the World’s first real city. Image result for ancient jericho
  3. Rome is known to be one of the, if not strongest, cities in all of history. Rome has always dominated. By the time Jesus Christ was living and breathing on Earth, Rome had already been established as the dominant city in Western Civiliation, fueled by military and politics. Romans took pride in being bigger and better in all aspects and was not shy in its admiration of wealth and power. According to the textbook, the Roman workforce built over 50,000 miles of road which would lead out into all different directions from the city, allowing for accessible ways to trade and travel. Rome also had an aqueduct system that was considered to be one of the most remarkable engineer feats in the ancient world. The Romans built 11 separate aqueducts, which together could deliver up to 264 gallons per person to its 1 million residents. To me, the Romans created one of the first real cultures in history.  Rome is fascinating not only because it is one of the strongest and smartest cities that existed before the Dark, Middle, and Modern ages, but also because of it’s cultural practices, like gladiator fights. The whole city would come together and witness men fighting each other to the death. Unlike today, where we tend to avoid witnessing murder, ancient residents of cities that practiced these traditions used these events as a way to come together as a whole and feel a sense of spirit. Kind of like today’s version of major sporting events. rRelated image
    4) The Medieval Ages came along on the coattails of many ancient cities’s demise. Things were most certainly changing which would force people to be creative and develop new patterns of life and survival. As major European cities were collapsing, people began to spread out into smaller towns to build a life outside of the once thriving metropolis. Trade and commerce were still important means of survival which would require people to not spread away from each other too much. There wasn’t much wealth in these smaller cities, which usually were built around the castle of a leading Lord/Lady. Everyone was poor except those with power, and most of the common people rarely bathed and they all lacked education, including the basic skill of reading and writing. Rats prominently ran through the streets which were covered in human and animal waste, exposing everyone to disgusting opportunities for disease. Filth was more prominent than ever, which would quickly pave the way to events such as the Bubonic Plague, ultimately claiming the lives of 60% of Europe’s entire population in the mid 14th century. It was most certainly, a weird time in history, where the future of cities were unclear.
    5) London is considered one of the strongest and best cities ever. Established around the Renaissance age, people from all over settled in this city nestled along the Thames River, which provided extreme opportunity for trade and commerce with other cities and countries. London has always had a high number of immigrants that came from countries such as India and Pakistan. I find this interesting because what has always been such a diverse city, eventually found its character as vastly different cultures came together creating an abstract city life. An Old-World “Melting Pot”, if you will. The original.  Speaking of culture, London has been the home to many, many brilliant artists and scholars. From Shakespeare to  Marx to Mick Jagger, culture and innovation seems to live in London’s roots.
     Image result for london
    6)Technology plays a HUGE role in the progression of city’s development. Over the course of the history of human civilization,  we’ve seen technology start with building useful tools for trade and commerce such as carts and ships, develop into technology which allows cars to drive themselves. The modern city didn’t get it’s start until the Industrial Revolution which provided  technology advances and electricity distribution. The Industrial Revolution started in Europe around 1750 and would last for about 80 years. It created many opportunities for the advancement of urban civilization and growth. Inventions such as transportation tools (buggies, carts, cars, trains…) and electricity have created entire realms of possibility for the future of cities world wide. Factories, established after the Revolution, are mass means of production which have allowed merchants to create their products in mass to distribute. The picture below shows a negative side to the Industrial Revolution: gnarly air pollution given off by industrial plants and factories that would infamously paint the picture of 18th and 19th century London as a dark, dreary, and smoky place. Image result for industrial revolution
    7) There are cities around the world based on their religious background and beliefs. Religion plays such an important part of established civilizations, as it tells the history of the people that inhabit that land. Mexico and other Southern American countries center their lives around Catholicism, and the strict beliefs that orbit around it. Most of the time, churches or cathedrals sit in the middle of the city. For example, in the square of Puerto Vallarta, a Mexican city on the West Coast, sits Our Lady of Guadalupe(pictured below), one of the most breathtaking cathedrals I have ever been to. Even in the medieval cities, churches were situated directly in the middle of the town. I find it remarkable that over the course of the world’s history, religion which is ancient and sacred, still screams it’s presence and marks it’s territory. An example of it’s everlasting presence on the way people live their lives in relation to their customs and beliefs. Image result for puerto vallarta our lady of guadalupe
    8) There are cities that live in great spiritual and cultural wealth. Fes, one of Morocco’s ancient capitals, was built by the prophet Mohammed’s son. It has been considered one of highest populated Islamic cities in the world. With over 9,000 streets, Fes has many neighborhoods and Burroughs, each which tell their own history and contain different social groups relating to their craft. Shoemakers, weavers, potters, and carpetmakers make up these subgroups. A city which is known to be car-less, prides itself on the culture it has created for itself. Walking through the streets, one will find there are loads merchants whose shops drip in color and loud energy. Cities like these use their art, their craft, to tell the story of past generations that created their city, their home. Everything is inter-related, spirituality, art, expression… it’s magical. 
    9) America’s foundation was built on the idea of achieving wealth and status by obtaining land. As major trade cities and states were established, disputes over religion, land, and politics would eventually break out thus causing several wars on American soil. I recently learned that my father’s hometown, Hampton, VA, is the fourth oldest city in America (1610), and Kecoughtan, VA (1610) is the fifth! These cities were established after the American Revolution, as they sit along the Chesapeake Bay, providing many ports along the coast. Cities along coasts of major bodies of water that lead out into the ocean historically have always had a relationship with war and trade.
    Old Point Comfort Lighthouse, Fort Monroe, Hampton
    10)Currently, global population is  more than 7 billion  and is estimated to top out at 10 billion. Statistically speaking, developing countries are getting the highest growth which can be a problem as they have fewer resources for their residents as it is. According to the link provided below, clean land, food production, renewable energy, and more residences being built vertically are all factors that future cities will persue for a new-age sustainable way of living. Sustainable production is something that will both benefit the small-town farmers and merchants, while also benefiting the land and the residents of the city. A way to maximize all resources for continues success in civilization.

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