Urban Utopias pp 269-279 | Cite as

Epilogue: The Promise of Urbanity—How the City Makes Life Worth Living

  • Robert Pfaller
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Urban Anthropology book series (PSUA)


Urbanity is in the first place, as Lewis Mumford nicely puts it, a “promise” (Mumford 1961, 3)—in other words an ideal, a utopia. Not all utopias may be urban, but all urbanity is definitely utopian. Yet the designation that urbanity is utopian, or a promise, does not imply that this utopia has never and nowhere existed or that this promise has not ever been held. Jerusalem, Athens, Rome, Florence, Paris, Vienna, Berlin, London and New York, for example, have at specific heroic moments of their history provided to observers and theorists an image, an instance of what merits the name of urbanity. This raises of course, with increased challenge and urgency, the question of what the constituent features, the necessary conditions of this utopian quality of urbanity may be. Just as with pornography, also with urbanity it may therefore appear easy to tell once one sees it; yet it may turn out equally difficult to name the criteria—that is, the crucial features and the conditions required for this promise becoming reality.


Public Space Social Bond Urban Space Life Worth Living Naive Observer 
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© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Pfaller
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Arts and Industrial Design LinzLinzAustria

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