Spontaneity in the City


“Cities make it easier to watch and listen and learn. Because the essential characteristic of humanity is our ability to learn from each other, cities make us more human.” -Edward Glaeser, Triumph of the City

April 12, 2012, Washington, DC: That right there describes the draw of these places. These places allow us to crowd the streets, listen to music, gather for meals, run into friends, meet strangers. Implicit in the idea that cities make it easier to learn from each other is the idea that they facilitate spontaneous connections. We wander out onto our sidewalks and see where the day takes us. It could lead anywhere. We felt this way on Polk Street in San Francisco and we feel this way on 7th St. in Washington.

My appreciation for the opportunities that cities like Washington and San Francisco and Chicago and Montreal and New York provide is fairly recent. I long resisted the notion that I might be a city girl at heart. But unplanned meetings and spontaneity are high on the list of reasons I've become an unexpected urbanist. When we rely on a car to shuttle us between errands, we miss out on these chances for random run-ins. On foot, they happen all the time.

Here are people to watch and to learn from. Here is a daily dose of inspiration. Here are The Capitol Hillbillies with their rolling piano. The music is playing. The day could lead anywhere. Just step outside.

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