Mumford in his book ‘The city in history’ tackles many ills bedeviling the development of the city from the medieval ages to the present mega polis. The city and its role in human settlement advancements is elaborately explained. Mumford goes on to mention that the city has been in existence for as long as humans settled life has. The advent of farming and the necessity to settle down in doing so, saw the earliest settlements of human beings in organized permanent structures. The growth of the city from a small communion of people sharing similar motions of daily life, to highly populated and diverse mega polis of present the present day, the transition is well lain out.
The advancements in the production and technological occupations of the city life is seen as a main factor that contributes to the dehumanizing of the city. Residents who have no concern for the welfare of the other city dwellers inhabit this city. The city residents of the city of Rome, for example, are contrasted with the residents of the city of Athens. While the city of Athens inhabitants are seen as humane and people oriented, the Rome residents are portrayed as disillusioned and self-seeking. The city of Rome reference to as the dehumanized city in the book due to its perceived lack of social life that was reflective of content and self-actualized human beings. The cities of ancient Greece are portrayed as the polis, or the city of people where civility guided by individual initiative reigns supreme. The relative freedom and intimacy enjoyed by these cities favored the development of a thriving social and intellectual culture in the city of men. The city of Rome however is depicted as a dehumanized settlement of people with interests only to their individual advancements. The city of Rome is employed as an example of what authority and the development of cities into extravagant sizes can do to both the populace and the administration of such regimes.
In the book however, Mumford takes the stand that a city and its conceptual features are directly correlate able with its more prominent features. The size a city develops into and its ability to have meaningful social relations among the city residents, are for instance, correlated to a fault. While it is true that the size of the city influenced the kind of relationships between the town’s inhabitants, it is not definitively relatable the size of a city to the quality of its relationships. There was a major oversight from Mumford in generalizing a trend historically observed to future trends, as human being behavior is highly adaptable due to their advanced intellectual capability. Some cities, in fact, have made tremendous leaps towards achieving a social lifestyle that is concerned for the welfare of the others. While it is impossible to know even a small fraction of fellow residents in the modern megalopolis, the number of people the modern city dwellers interacts with in a social level is far much greater than the residents of the ancient cities. While the low populations in the cities enabled the intimate relationships between residents, the modern city is highly populous and the interactions between much more populous than the ancient city residents experienced
Mumford, in his book makes important assertion and important conclusions, but his generalization of the fate of the city based on its observable characteristics is highly under informed. Modern cities, owing to the ever-surging human population would barely manage to construct models of living as Mumford envisaged as the perfect city. The dynamics at work are much more different and administrative and systems are much more advanced and complicated. Mumford views the current megalopolis as exposing humanity to annihilation through nuclear warfare. The sheer fact of people living in concentrated settlements making them easy targets of war. While this might be true, the population of the world has exponentially risen over the past few centuries. Without the cities as they exist today, human life would be very difficult, if not impossible for the modern man. The need to live in central places far overweighs the need to disperse settlements. It is far mar easier to provide services and products to many people at once in a huge city than it would be economically viable over smaller far apart cities.
Humans did not lose the ability to be humans by inhabiting the modern capitalistic city, they just responded intuitively to changing times and conditions. If humans had preserved the ancient intimate cities, production would not have continued being viable and there would be probably more chaos than presently witnessed. The perfect model for this argument is an observation of the traditional tribes of some developing countries. In Kenya\, for instance, the semi-nomadic tribes of the arid north of the country are in constant dispute amongst tribes over resources such as pasture and watering holes. While their maintenance of their traditional intimate clan setting nurtures their relationship as clan members, they lack touch with the wider populace. The city therefore as we know it today, had several influences upon human life than Mumford gives it credit.