To Save Our Cities，We Must Let Them Breathe
Andreas Whittam Smith 安德烈亚斯·惠塔姆·史密斯
hat is it that makes a successful city？Perhaps Jane Jacobs best put the requirements for a successful city in her book The Economy of Cities. This American author， journalist and urban activist said that the most successful cities are those that have more than one kind of success; and are continually able to reinvent themselves.
Let's put London， Paris and New York to Jacobs'tests.
More than one kind of success？ London and New York have very similar achievements. They house the largest financial markets in the world， with New York bigger than London，and Paris very small. But Paris has a different strength. It is the world capital of fashion and haute couture.
But here are their secondary successes. In the visual arts， all three cities are strong on a global scale. The National Gallery， the Louvre， the Metropolitan Museum: who could choose between them？ Their collections are genuinely international and of the highest quality.
What about Jacobs' second test？ Not only must successful cities have more than one kind of success， they must also be able continually to reinvent themselves. This is more difficult to assess except in the case of London， where you have only to stand on， say， Westminster Bridge and look east towards the dome of St Paul's to see reinvention going on all around. For St Paul's is usually surrounded by tall building cranes.
In contrast， Paris absolutely does not engage with reinvention and doesn't wish to do so. It rigorously preserves unchanged the beautiful， satisfying city that lies within the inner ring road. It is largely 19th century， together with the old medieval street plan still visible on the Left Bank opposite Notre-Dame. In addition， there is a generous scattering of 17th and 18th-century town houses spread throughout the city.
Paris's prohibition of contemporary architecture dates from the disaster of the Tour Montparnasse， the first and last skyscraper to be erected in central Paris. Built on top of a metro station in 1973， its 59 floors made it the tallest skyscraper in France. As a single tower jutting up from the Paris rooftops， it is undeniably ugly. It has given rise to the endlessly repeated joke that the tower offers the best views in the city because it is the only place from which you cannot see it. Two years after its completion， the construction of buildings over seven stories high in the city centre was banned.
In the end， however， lack of reinvention is dangerous. As the capital of a large， prosperous， advanced country， Paris will always have a major role. But the fate that awaits it is to become a Washington rather than a New York， or a Canberra rather than a Sydney.
Equally， however， London is taking a risk by giving property developers free rein. Jane Jacobs called the sort of investments made by speculators and developers in league with architects and planners “cata-clysmic money”， for they wreak havoc on communities with their big， sudden transformative projects – which all ultimately look the same.
Shopping malls or shopping centres are a good example. For instance， to pick two shopping centres I happen to know， the Metrocentre near Gateshead in the north-east of England closely resembles the shopping mall in the centre of Paris on the site of the old fresh food market， the Forum des Halles.
You can find copies all over the world. It bears the same relationship to an authentic slice of city （which is necessarily complex， not simple） that a Starbucks does to a family owned Italian cafe.
Thank goodness， therefore， for campaigning by citizens. The officials running cities should never ignore the possibility that the people may be right. Look at Sheffield， where plans to cut down thousands of trees lining the city's streets have engendered increasingly violent protest. Finally， two weeks ago， the local council announced an immediate pause in its controversial scheme.“Save our cities” is a cry that resonates.