Prata em Mumford (1938)

Considering this new urban area on its lowest physical terms, without reference to its social facilities or its culture, it is plain that never before in recorded history had such vast masses of people lived in such a savagely deteriorated environment. The galley slaves of the Orient, the wretched prisoners in the Athenian silver mines, the depressed proletariat in the insulae of Rome – these classes had known, no doubt, a similar foulness; but never was human blight so widespread; never before had it so universally been accepted as normal – normal and inevitable. The point becomes all the more appalling [198] when one realizes, not only the absolute unfitness of this environment for human life, but its extraordinary quantitative multiplication. In 1850 there were but six towns with over one hundred thousand population in the United States, and but five in Germany. By 1900 there were thirty-six such places in the United States and thirty-three m Germany. (Mumford 1938:195/8)

“On Sunday after Our Dear Lady’s Assumption, I saw the Great Procession from the Church of Our Lady at Antwerp, when the whole town of every craft and rank was assembled, each dressed in his best according to his rank. And all ranks and guilds had their signs, by which they might be known. In the intervals, great costly pole-candles were borne, and three long old Frankish trumpets of silver. There were also in the German fashion many pipers and drummers. All the instruments were loudly and noisily blown and beaten. (Mumford 1938:63)

The open air shop, the outlet for the workroom in the rear, tended to disappear, too: the new type of shop took shape behind glass windows, greatly enlarged to cover the whole front and serve as a center of display. No effort was spared to decorate the interior smartly, particularly in the more modish commodities. To fit up a pastrycook’s shop with plate glass windows and pier glasses and glass lanterns and twenty-five sconces for candles and six large silver salvers, and to paint the ceiling and carve the columns and gild the lanterns took a pretty sum. It is a modern custom, observes Daniel Defoe in The Compleat English Tradesman, to “have tradesmen lay out two thirds of their fortune in fitting up their shops. … ‘Tis a small matter to lay out two or three, nay five hundred pounds.” (Mumford 1938:99)

MUMFORD, Lewis. 1938. The Culture of Cities. San Diego: Harvest/HBJ.