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Urban culture
City Mayors examines the contributions history and culture make to urban society and environment

Historic Cities
Living Cities

City Mayors' series 'Historic Cities - Living Cities' features thriving towns and cities from 71 countries, which have made significant historic contributions to urban development. Many of the cities, initially chosen for the series, are World Heritage sites or contain historic institutions and monuments and have contributed to social, political, cultural and architectural achievements in Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa. More


Museums draw more visitors than
US sporting events and theme parks

9 April 2013: The website of the American Alliance of Museums has a section titled, “How do I start a new museum?” It’s a fascinating question, suggesting that anyone can start a museum. In fact, most of the museums in the United States were started by private individuals and are privately funded and privately operated. Most American museums are also readily accessible to the general public and most of the art museums are located in cities. More

Railroad station turned theatre plays
important part in Newburgh’s revival

16 May 2012: The old West Shore Railroad Station stands alone on what used to be the main north-south route through the city of Newburgh, New York State. Until recently the building was in a state of near collapse – an apt reflection of the city, whose long history is one of boom and bust. Now though, the building has been revitalised, turned into a theatre and given a purpose once more; to provide a home for playwrights to workshop and showcase new plays, to present local, national, and international artists of all genres. More

Songs written for
American cities

28 December 2011: It is said there is a song for every city in America. While some songs never got much further than the city limits others became international hits. Gerard Kenny’s 1978 ode to his hometown ‘New York, New York - So Good They Named It Twice’ spelled the re-birth of America’s largest metropolis after it almost went bankrupt in 1975 and one year after a city-wide blackout shut it down for 25 hours. The song ‘If you're going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair’ sung by Scott McKenzie in 1967 became the anthem for the worldwide flower power movement. More

Damascus: A historic living city
must not become a theme park

16 October 2009: How can ancient cities benefit from the UNESCO world heritage badge and simultaneously avoid becoming a ‘Walt Disney’ for tourists? Syria’s capital, Damascus, is the oldest continuously lived in city in the world and is in danger of this phenomenon. With its five-star hotels and so-called ‘VIP pockets’, the locals are being driven out in droves. More

Fukuoka – one of Japan’s doors to
the world for more than 1000 years

19 August 2006: Fukuoka, with a population of some 1.3 million people Japan’s eighth largest city, traces its history back to the 8th century. In medieval times, Fukuoka became one of the few active international trade cities, hosting many foreign merchants, and in the 16th century, wealthy merchants went overseas to seek more profitable business. In May 2006, the city announced that it would bid to become the official Japanese candidate for the 2016 Summer Olympics. More

Fought over for many centuries, Madurai
is one of India’s most remarkable cities

Madurai is one of the oldest cities of India, with a history dating all the way back to the Sangam period of the pre-Christian era. The glory of Madurai returned in a diminished form in the earlier part of this millennium; it later on came under the rule of the Vijayanagar kingdom after being ransacked by the ravaging armies of Delhi (Malik Kafur). During the 16th and 18th centuries, Madurai was ruled by the Nayak Emperors, the foremost of whom was Tirumalai Nayakar. The Sangam period poet Nakkeerar is associated with some of the Tiruvilayaadal episodes of Sundareswarar - that are enacted as a part of temple festival traditions even today. More

Ouro Preto, a city conceived
by artists and built by slaves

A beautiful example of Brazilian baroque architecture, Ouro Preto is a rare jewel carved in the mountains of Minas Gerais. It was conceived on European models by artists, and built by slaves. And the result was the creation of a national style. But as mining activities declined at the end of the eighteenth century, so did the city’s intense social life. The city was reduced to an organ of state-administered bureaucracy and when the seat of government – the state capital - was transferred to Belo Horizonte, the isolation was complete. More

Dresden: Building a modern city
on 800 years of European history

Seventeen years after the Berlin Wall came down and communism finally disappeared from the German map, the City of Dresden, the capital of the East German state Saxony, continues to develop without respite and is already acknowledged as being among the most beautiful cities in Europe. More

Gupta Vrindaban
A Secret Garden

The year was 1759. The new ruler seated on the Mogul throne in Delhi was Badshah Alamgir, as he was popularly known. The mood was sombre and introspective in Delhi, unlike the earlier era of Akbar when spiritual discourse and interfaith discussions were encouraged. The new King had forbidden the practice of spiritual music, particularly in the ancient style of music called Dhrupada. When artists employed in the courts of Shah Jahan, who specialised in singing about the romantic escapades of Krishna, were no longer able to earn a living they found a welcome mat at a place far from Delhi in the East, in the Parganas of Bengal. More

La Laguna Mayor: World Heritage status
has brought rewards and responsibilities

After a career in banking as well as local and regional government, Ana María Oramas y González-Moro was elected Mayor of La Laguna, Tenerife, in 1999. She is a founder member of the Coalición Canaria (CC), which was formed in 1993 and was then made up of eight different parties, including nationalists, conservatives and former communists. It governs the Canary Islands Autonomous Region as a minority administration and is also represented in the Spanish parliament, where it traditionally supports the government coalition. In 2005, the parties that originally made up the CC were dissolved. In an interview with City Mayors’ Spanish correspondent, Daniel González Herrera, Mayor Oramas discusses her city’s regional, national and international importance. More

Metro Mensch
A refugee on the Northern Line
The other fat woman is probably from a circus. My dad often took me to a circus. There were many fat women in colourful costumes. My father pointed them out to me and laughed. He loved my mother but also liked other women. When I was thirteen I found a magazine with English women in his tool cupboard. I think he wanted to love an English woman too. He is dead now. More

Dear Mom
Children fear us here. By the time they are ten, they hate us. Old people ignore us. When we are out on patrol, we feel like aliens from another planet, look it too in our combat gear, helmets and shades. Sometimes boys come up to us, touch our M4s, beg for candy. I gave one kid my shades to put on, he run off with them. Mom, the next day I saw him on top of a wrecked car, burning our flag, wearing my shades. More

Father and Son
Erika waited almost two weeks before she went to the police. Michael had explained how he flew to Cologne, stayed in a cheap hotel near the Cathedral. In some bar he started to talk to a young guy who was about to be drafted into the army. They met again the next day and the day after over beer and shish kebab. The guy told Michael about his 16-year old girlfriend, the squat they lived in and his baby boy. Michael met the mother, a skinny girl, who found it hard to focus. The baby needed feeding and changing. Michael took care of both.

The girl wanted to be paid in dollars. German notes can be traced, she said. Michael offered five thousand and eventually gave her eight. Two days later he was back in Berlin. More

Juan chooses order then chaos
Maria, Juan’s mother, was not told about the accident until after the match, which ended in a nil-nil draw. She took the call at Barajas Airport where she worked as a cleaner. David was already dead by the time the ambulance arrived more than an hour after the driver of a yellow Fiat had hurled him against a 100-year old plane tree. More

The porcelain shepherdess
François and Claudine had become lovers in September. He bought a hamper for late-summer picnics on the banks of the River Rhine, she booked ten dance lessons. They rode through the hills of the Voges on a hired Harley Davidson and got drunk on new wine in October. Their lovemaking caused neighbours to complain, which only excited them more. In November, he asked her to marry him and she set a date for December. More

The history of Tirana a fusion of
Islamic and Christian influences

Tirana, the capital of Albania, is an ancient city with an early history enriched by the interplay of cultural forces originating in the Islamic and European Christian worlds. Records of the first land registrations under the Ottomans in 1431-32 reveal that Tirana then consisted of 60 inhabited areas, with nearly 1000 houses and 7300 inhabitants. More

Nanjing sets out to protect
its east-west architecture

Riding their bicycles past it every day, Nanjing residents are very familiar with the complex of elegant, old two- and three-storey houses along Zhongshan Avenue, amid a forest of modern structures. They and other buildings completed after the First Opium War (1840-42) in the capital of East China's Jiangsu Province, especially those built when Nanjing served as the national capital from 1912 to 1949, are an important and unique part of the architectural history of China. More

Melina Mercouri’s legacy:
European Cities of Culture
The European City of Culture was the result of an initiative by the late Greek Minister of Culture, Melina Mercouri. In November 1983 she invited European Community (EC) culture ministers to Athens and presented them with a project for creating knowledge of European cultures within the EC member states. At the time, the Greek minister felt that culture was not given the same attention as politics and economics. She told her European colleagues that the voices of artists should be heard as loudly as those of politicians and economists. “Culture, art and creativity are not less important than technology, commerce and economics,” Ms Mercouri said. More

Zaha Hadid becomes the first woman to
receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize

Zaha Hadid, an Iraqi born British citizen, has been chosen as the 2004 Laureate of the Pritzker Architecture Prize marking the first time a woman has been named for this 26-year-old award. Hadid, who is 53, has completed projects in Europe and the United States. More



The City Mayors Foundation's latest book title 'Hard Constants: Sustainability and the American City' by Tony Favro has now been published. You may order your FREE copy now. Order form


City Mayors' latest book title
Hard Constants: Sustainability and the American City
Americans can imagine a sustainable world, but can they attain it?

The answer may lay in the deeply-help beliefs—the hard constants—that Americans carry with them.  Sustainability, after all, means changing one’s behavior by using fewer resources, adjusting consumption patterns, altering daily habits, and thinking long-term.

In Hard Constants, we see how these beliefs influence many of the activities that ultimately determine the prospects for sustainability: job hunting, grocery shopping, purchasing a car or home, electing a mayor, following the news, and, especially, planning and designing the urban areas where most Americans live.

Tony Favro shows that sustainability is neither obvious nor assured.  The future of sustainability—if sustainability has a future—will be located in an acknowledgement of universal values, in participatory democracy, and in human-scale design.

Hard Constants reveals the hard truths about sustainability—and what we can do about it.

Hard Constants: Sustainability and the American City is now available free of charge from City Mayors. To receive a pdf copy, please complete our order form. Libraries of academic institutions may receive a hard copy. Please provide contact details such as name, occupation and any organisation. Order form