A few days ago I noted Brad Enslen noting that it’s possible to design cities that can accommodate sociality even during social distancing measures. Two relevant items came across Places Wire yesterday.

In the first, Michael Kimmelman, writing for The New York Times, examines how pandemics seem to strike at the heart of what a city is meant to be.

Pandemics prey on this relentlessly. They are anti-urban. They exploit our impulse to congregate. And our response so far — social distancing — not only runs up against our fundamental desires to interact, but also against the way we have built our cities and plazas, subways and skyscrapers. They are all designed to be occupied and animated collectively. For many urban systems to work properly, density is the goal, not the enemy.

In the second, Dianna Budds, writing for Curbed, examines the urban design issues raised by public health, including pandemics.

During the industrial era, modern sanitation and water systems were originally created to fight the pathogens that cause cholera and typhoid. Before indoor plumbing and sewer systems were common, it was typical for raw sewage to flow out of buildings and directly onto city streets. It wasn’t until a severe cholera outbreak in London in the 1850s that a physician proved contaminated drinking water caused the deaths. Prior to that the prevailing theory was “miasma,” the medieval understanding that disease was spread through contact with “bad air,” like vapors emanating from rotting organic matter.

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