The city as a (loose?) collection of fragments

I really enjoyed this week's readings, particularly Poe's Man of the Crowd, Bejamin's piece on the flaneur, and Thrift's Legibility of the Everyday City. In different ways, each relates interpretations of the city which individualize the experience of urbanity. Poe has an intense moment of connection with another city dweller in the midst of the density and vitality of urban crowds. The flaneur consumes the city through his wanderings, collecting images, experiences and affects in order to compose his urban tableau, often a sensuous, male-oriented vision. Thrift discusses different techniques for analyzing the urban fabric all of which deconstruct the city, relying on the inevitably varied experiences of individual participants or specific rhythms of habitation to construct partial and fleeting images of the urban. He also discusses the gap between the images of the City (e.g. New York City, NYC, the Big Apple) and the neighborhoods, streets, and shops that are stitched together to create the city's fabric.

How do these notions of the individual experience and/or interpretation of the city inform contemporary urban design and renewal? Do neighborhoods and communities have the right or ability to present their own image of urbanity in the context of increasingly networked and commodified city planning? What are the rights of the individual to move through the city at their own leisure? Poe's writing in particular centers on his self-control over bodily movement - he transitions from seated observation to a frantic chase over the duration of the story which lasts for hours. Thrift of course presents analyses of the city which in different ways see it as a collection of everyday, performative actions, turning the conception of the city as an eternal, spectacular, out-of-time figure on its head. Instead it is fragmented into a collection of banal activities which do not necessarily add up to any kind of romanticized monument. How important is the image vs. the everyday and how can the two coexist? How is the contemporary Bloomberg-ian model of city management, predicated on efficiency, healthfulness, and investment influencing patterns of life in our cities?