Magazine September 21, 2020, Issue

The Death of Public Beauty

Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893 (Bettmann/Contributor via Getty Images)
How city planning went wrong

Have we lost the art of making fine public spaces? The very question is fraught, and not just because it risks insulting the architects, planners, and landscapers who make those spaces. It goes against the idea of progress itself. It affronts our pride to think that we are no longer capable of making spaces as noble as the National Mall, as dynamic as Rockefeller Center, or as exquisitely intimate as Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square. And yet throughout history art forms have died. We no longer paint on vellum or weave intricate battle scenes into tapestries, yet both were once significant forms

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Michael J. Lewis — Mr. Lewis is a professor at Williams College and reviews architecture for the Wall Street Journal.

In This Issue

Articles

Features

Books, Arts & Manners

Sections

Most Popular

BLM Becomes the PLO

I am inclined to think that the Palestinians have some legitimate beefs, historically speaking. I just don’t care very much. You blow up children in pizza shops, and your priorities go right to the bottom of my global humanitarian to-do list. Palestinians want a state? I wouldn’t lend Mahmoud Abbas a cup ... Read More

BLM Becomes the PLO

I am inclined to think that the Palestinians have some legitimate beefs, historically speaking. I just don’t care very much. You blow up children in pizza shops, and your priorities go right to the bottom of my global humanitarian to-do list. Palestinians want a state? I wouldn’t lend Mahmoud Abbas a cup ... Read More
Law & the Courts

On Judge Barrett, Let’s Tell the Truth

Once when I was a kid, my dad held up three fingers and asked, “Does this two look like a three?” Little did I know that this attempted sleight of hand would become a regular feature of the process for appointing federal judges. Watch for it in the days ahead as the Senate considers President Donald Trump’s ... Read More
Law & the Courts

On Judge Barrett, Let’s Tell the Truth

Once when I was a kid, my dad held up three fingers and asked, “Does this two look like a three?” Little did I know that this attempted sleight of hand would become a regular feature of the process for appointing federal judges. Watch for it in the days ahead as the Senate considers President Donald Trump’s ... Read More
World

Europe Makes Its Choice

The president of the European Council does not usually make news when addressing the UN General Assembly. In fact, the current occupant of the post, Charles Michel might be used to giving UN addresses that attract minimal attention. He is, after all, a former prime minister of Belgium. However, today was ... Read More
World

Europe Makes Its Choice

The president of the European Council does not usually make news when addressing the UN General Assembly. In fact, the current occupant of the post, Charles Michel might be used to giving UN addresses that attract minimal attention. He is, after all, a former prime minister of Belgium. However, today was ... Read More
World

War in the Desert, 21st-Century Style

The explosive sound of an Israeli Merkava IV tank firing reverberated from behind a hillside, a cloud of dust marking where the shell had been fired from. The shell flew across a field of shrubs and landed in the distance. Then another tank targeted the same location. The symphony of firing continued for ten ... Read More
World

War in the Desert, 21st-Century Style

The explosive sound of an Israeli Merkava IV tank firing reverberated from behind a hillside, a cloud of dust marking where the shell had been fired from. The shell flew across a field of shrubs and landed in the distance. Then another tank targeted the same location. The symphony of firing continued for ten ... Read More
Elections

‘Sorry, Charlie’

If it is true that rioters are using cans of tuna as weapons, I hope one of them had the wit to pick up a tin, pull down his mask a bit, smirk at the goon next to him and shout, “Sorry, Charlie!” before launching. It would almost be worth it. The president says that the ballistic advantage of a tuna can is ... Read More
Elections

‘Sorry, Charlie’

If it is true that rioters are using cans of tuna as weapons, I hope one of them had the wit to pick up a tin, pull down his mask a bit, smirk at the goon next to him and shout, “Sorry, Charlie!” before launching. It would almost be worth it. The president says that the ballistic advantage of a tuna can is ... Read More