The fate of cities
However, modern Rome underwent both of the processes that have transformed out major cities. First, beginning in 1585 Sixtus V laid out a series of grand boulevards, linking major monuments. These inevitably involved confiscations. More serious were the private seizures of the princely families, such as the Colonna and the Torlonia, which gradually devoured the popular quarters, replacing them with great palaces. In London “urban clearance” was accomplished by the Great Fire of 1666. Here in New York City real-estate greed, as seen in the tragic destruction of Penn Station, accomplished this work. I hear that serious changes are occurring in Rio de Janeiro, one of the most beautiful cities in the world. All of our great cities, it seems, are at risk.
What hope remains to allow cities to escape these sackings? It seems that only smallish, out-of-the- way places like Siena, Troyes, and Charleston are immune.