Empty City

When I think of the word “city”, I think of crowd, neon signs, late night eateries, traffic in the middle of the night, noises, sirens in the early morning hour, dirty back alleys, and deep sighs that buses make at busstop before day break.

Based on this definition, many so-called “cities” in the US are not really cities. The only one I knew would be Detroit, where people “poured” out into neighboring suburbs after business hour. It is dead after day light departs.

Now I know of another, San Jose.

People who build these kind of cities must have a different set of definition. They install shinny office buildings, wide avenues, palm trees, restaurants, and bars. But it still feels dead, because there is no clutter. Too clean, too empty, too spacious. Like modeled homes. Good looking but not lived, and so not alive.

Curiously enough, it reminded me of another blog i wrote earlier on Santana Row: An Evening in the City-Wanna-Be. They are so similar. I guess maybe that’s the style of San Jose as a whole. Maybe it is the style of many American cities. Maybe one day we will feel nostalgic for cities like these? Who knows.

One thought on “Empty City

  1. I like your city definition, to me, city is defined by the people and the energy, but I don’t like the crime part. Maybe this is what drove most people away from the city…

    A lot of newly built cities in USA look like Disney land or premier outlet malls.

    I do like and miss narrow streets, though it is so not car friendly, Boston, parts of DC, SF, Mahattan, part of Chicago, I don’t know any other in USA.

    Jean’s Reply:
    🙂 I’m not too sure whether American live in one last paradise to enjoy such shiny and brand new cities or that America is ahead of the rest of the world? The pessimist in me thinks that the former is more likely. Sooner or later the population explosion from the rest of the world will catch up with the US… Then cities will be more like San Pablo, Brazil, or New Dahli India… So we better enjoy it when we still can…

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