I’m not from a big city with big buildings and large amounts of people scurrying about. I’m from a small suburb in New York where I have essentially lived my whole life. During this time, I have come a long way understanding the streets and the people and many other sights, leading me to feel a sense of safety and security. I also only travel to New York City about two or three times a year, so I’m never really situated in a big city or even a smaller one like Perugia.
With that being said, I have never taken the time to think about city neighborhoods and what makes them feel safe or comfortable or secure. Last class, we discussed Jane Jacobs’ The Death and Life of Great American Cities, trying to figure out what it was that made a city safe. Jacobs talks about three important qualities that a city must have in order to acquire a sense of safety. The first is that there must be a distinction between public and private spaces. There must be private spaces that are for certain individuals or people as well as public spaces where any city person has access to. This can certainly cause some issues when considering things like malls or parks at night. The second quality is that people must watch the streets; people-watching must be a thing. When there are eyes always on the street, it is as if there is a natural guardian overlooking the city, forbidding anything bad to happen. And the third thing to having a safe city is that there must always be members of the community on the street. A street without anyone on it is boring and dull, abandoned even. There must be people on the street to keep it alive.
It is interesting to think that Jacobs gives no mention to law or police or anything of that matter. It is all about the people being good people and relying on each
other. This makes me think about that Bruce Springsteen song Ray showed us in class. In the song, Bruce sang that no one crowds you and the people are mostly strangers. Yet, you’re never alone and there will always be a neighbor for you to rely on. In order to make the city streets feel really safe, we must connect the community together and provide a familiar and comfortable environment where people enjoy keeping their eyes on the very streets they live.