RRR's The Urbanists – summer replacement for "The Architects" on RRR. Urban planning program about the way the modern city does (and doesn’t) work
One of my birthday presents this year was a set of books from the Deakin University course “The Australian City”, published in 1978 and found by Mel at the op shop. Book 2 of these is “The ‘new’ inner city”. The inner city that’s talked about is that of the writers and counter cultural university types, particularly Helen Garner and the world of “Monkey Grip”.
I was quite impressed by the mental map shown on page 9 (see below). There’s a close-up of the Lygon Street Carlton vicinity, including some establishments that remain in 2012 (e.g. Jimmy Watson’s, Shakahari, Readings), and some that are gone (e.g. The Pram Factory theatre). There’s then another map with concentric rings showing the known world as laid out by Helen-Garner-type late 1970s people: the inner city (centred on Lygon Street), then immediately the “green belt – country & seaside” with a pocket for the CBD and St Kilda, then portals to edgy holiday destinations “Cambodia/Thailand”, and “inner city Sydney”. The effect is that there is detail in some parts of the world but that the rest is thinly sketched: “The world is firmly criss-crossed by the paths of counter-cultural bicycles, and beyond them gradually falls away” (p18). The suburbs and country areas where most of the inhabitants of the ‘new inner city’ lived are anonymous, insubstantial, even if they loomed on a physically and socially much larger scale.
One obvious take-home message is that some things change and some things stay the same. Carlton, for example, remains but in remaining inevitably isn’t what it used to be – I often marvel, for example, at the sheer fanciness of Jimmy Watson’s in comparison to the toilet pictures in my “Australian Graffiti” book. I assume Lygon Street is still the centre of the universe for some people, probably near retirement age by now. Other people’s universes centre on Northcote or Brunswick, with portals to Castlemaine and Venus Bay, Belgrave, Fremantle, Byron Bay, Bali, (Elmore?). Other people exist in blissful indifference to the entire hierarchy of deified cafes and locales and bicycle paths. Real estate agents circle the whole affair eagerly pin pointing the values of these “centres of gravity” in financial terms. Anyway it’s an interesting map, let us know if you have thoughts on this or your own spatial universe!