Anthony M. Tung, author of Preserving
the World'd Great Cities.
Welcome. You've arrived at the author's website. In these pages you will find material commonly sought by those making inquiries: a selection of principal reviews, some biographical facts, a sampling of photos from foreign cities, an excerpt from the book, contact information—and an assortment of newspaper articles largely from the author's tenure as a New York City Landmarks Preservation Commissioner. To go to any of these sections click on the appropriate subject heading in the navigation bar to the left.
Thank you for
THE WORLD'S GREAT CITIES:
The Destruction and Renewal of the Historic Metropolis
By Anthony M. Tung
||Clarkson Potter, New York, 2001
||Three Rivers Press, New York, 2001
||Kaiji Shobol Publishers, Kyoto, 2006
||Translated by: Hiroshi Mimura (editor), Yoshifumi Muneta, Yuga Kariya, Noriaki Nishiyama, Tetsuya Kakuhashi, Yushi Utaka, Fumihiko Kobayashi, Takaya Kurimoto, Yoko Kawai
Drawings and maps by the author
Photographs by Janet Vicario and Anthony Tung
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Awakening of a Conservation Ethic
1. The Century of Destruction
2. The City That Devoured Its Glory
and Renaissance Rome
The City That Rewrote Its Past
and Modern Rome
Culture of Conservation in Cities
4. The Heritage of War
5. The Tragedy of the Megacity
6. Ideological Conflict with the Past
7. Preservation and Economic Justice
8. Preservation and Social Conscience
9. The City of the Gods Besieged
10. The Comprehensible Urban Visage
11. Tourism versus the Habitable City
12. Politics and Preservation in the Modern Metropolis
13. Reversing the Culture of Destruction
The Widening Ethic of Preservation
14. The City Redeemed
Moscow, New York, and Mexico City
15. The City As a Living Museum
AFTERWARD TO THE JAPANESE EDITION
by Hiroshi Mimura (translated from Japanese by Yoko Kawai)
This book is a Japanese translation of Preserving the World’s Great Cities: The Destruction and Renewal of the Historic Metropolis by Anthony M. Tung. The original version, which was published in 2001, is a large volume of 500 pages that took me a month to read. The book’s theme is highly pertinent to modern society in Japan. It describes how people across the world strive to preserve the culture of their cities and gives us perspective in regard to our own conservation efforts. By the time I'd finished reading, I found the book both grand and beautiful.
Encounter with the Author
In the autumn of 1993, a fax came to me at the Residential Environment Division, Department of Architecture, Kyoto University, from Anthony M. Tung, with whom I was not acquainted. Mr. Tung was conducting research on the conservation of architectural culture in historic cities across the world. He was coming to Kyoto as part of his research and offered to give a talk about preservation in New York. About a month later, Mr. Tung arrived at Kyoto University with his wife Janet. I described the conservation problems of the city and offered some relevant materials in English. He gave us a lecture on how New York protects its landmarks. I learned that there were several shared principles with those we use in Japan such as providing legal protection for significant "individual monuments," whole "conservation districts," and extended "historic landscapes." It impressed me that even as a center of market-driven capitalism, New York had enacted a strong preservation policy, protecting about twenty thousand landmarks. Several years later, in the summer of 2001, a thick parcel was sent to me by Mr. Tung. I opened it and began to read.
There are many scholarly volumes on the preservation of culture and landscape in the world's historic cities. Yet, this book was uniquely exciting. Why? First, in depicting social conflicts between the destruction and preservation of the metropolis, the narrative is scripted like a drama. The more you read, the more you are drawn into its stories. Second, in an effort to serve the general reader, the author translates architectural and planning jargon into common words. This also helps those of us who are scholars to rediscover issues that have been buried in the complication of academic language. With this book, readers who have visited a particular city, and those who have not, can put themselves within the dynamic upheaval of urban growth. I also liked the fact that the book is not blinded by a bias toward Western theories of architecture and covers conditions in neighborhoods in Asian as well as in developing countries.
Deeply wishing that people in Japan might have access to this work, I started to create a Japanese-language version by contacting professionals who had been in the front lines of the struggle to save our country's heritage. Together, we formed a group called STOK (Sekai TOshi-hozen Kenkyukai, or research group for the preservation of the cities of the world) and started the translation. In September 2004, members of the research group visited the author at his loft in New York as part of a collaborative process.
On the Book's Style and Structure
This volume is not an academic text with references and footnotes. Neither is it a journal of travels for mere entertainment. It is a penetrating book for the thoughtful mind. It reveals the ebb and flow of ideas in the changing metropolis—a presentation made possible because the author visited all the cities discussed here, inspected their destruction in the field, talked with professionals in planning and preservation, and carefully studied the documentation gathered in these journeys. What is most unique about this book is its style; i.e. it tells the reader a “historical drama” in which destruction and preservation are set in competition. Important people and groups appear on stage for every period and place. They insist upon the legitimacy of obliteration, selective destruction, or conservation of the old cityscape—are overwhelmed by the conflict, or produce significant solutions. They are gods, emperors, popes, dictators, investors, the oppressed, travelers, architects, citizens, and mayors. The variety of these characters fills the book with excitement. The stage for these dramas are eighteen of the most renowned cities in the world. All of the scenarios and scenes are based on the author’s meticulous research.
At the beginning of many chapters, Mr. Tung quotes from Le Citta Invisibili, written by Italo Calvino in 1972. A renowned Italian author of the twentieth-century, in Le Citta Invisibili, Calvino writes of imaginary cities by adapting the story of Il Milione (The Travels of Marco Polo), in which the Italian explorer of the thirteenth-century describes numerous colorful urban places for the Emperor Kublai Khan, to whom Polo had become a favored liegeman. In the afterward of the Japanese version of Le Citta Invisibili, the translator, Ryofu Yonekawa, remarks: “Polo's imaginary cities seem to us at first to be absurd comedies and mysteries. Then, beneath their surface innocence, we see a deeper meaning, dark as the ocean, and causing us to shudder. We wander into an endless city, a city without form, a cursed city, a machine city: reminding us of the modern metropolis. Here, fantasies become allegories. This reversed utopia, i.e. a story of non-existing places, presents many meaningful ideas in regard to the urban culture of our modern world.” (Mienai-toshi, 2003, Kawade Shobo Publishing)
Le Citta Invisibili seems to be a favorite book of Mr. Tung. Has he imagined himself as a modern-day Marco Polo gathering stories for the people of New York? Perhaps for Kublai Khan? I believe he has adopted a technique of symbolic representation from the Italian author, showing us the underlying allegorical meaning of the contradiction and anxiety intrinsic to our modern attitudes and thinking. The cities which Mr. Tung visited are, of course, not imaginary ones, and he describes them realistically. Yet, when readers reach Section III, toward the end of the book, they will find that the protection of historic architecture and townscapes in our quickly-changing modern world is a matter of moral significance for the author. Looking through his eyes, we perceive the current condition of preservation as but a phase in the evolving history of urban planning ethics and ideology. What constitutes destruction? What constitutes preservation? I realize that we are still at sea and am keenly aware that we will not attain a fruitful vision for the future without first seeking a virtuous ethic for the practice of architecture and the conservation of our cities.
Challenges in Conserving Cities
Thanks to world-wide efforts in the mid-twentieth century, the value of conserving architectural culture and urban heritage has finally started to be recognized. However, the theories and technology of preservation are still developing. How might we respond to critics that assert the usefulness of creation made possible by destruction? To whom do cultural properties and urban landscape belong? How may we save an urban landscape constituted of many small parts and owned by many different people—some in the private sector, some in the public sector? Who should make such decisions on behalf of society?
As a technical preservation matter, what is the proper approach when regulating permanent structures made of masonry, as compared to less durable buildings made of wood? How do we evaluate highly-renovated structures that may be consistent with the form of original buildings, but are largely made of new materials? How do we reconcile the different way that cultural value is perceived from within a society with how it is admired from without? Is it possible to define meaningful preservation policy in the midst of wars, oppressions, and revolutions? How do we expand the domain of preservation from individual buildings to large parts of the historic metropolis? Can the city be a museum of its history? Can it sustain social progress even in those parts largely composed of antiquated buildings? With our myriad differences of opinion, how might we all work together? The problems are hard and numerous.
This journey of this book will not only shed light on such challenges to the changing historic cities of the twenty-first century, but also allows us the joy of drawing beneficial lessons from a well-spring of allegories. To readers who never been to these places, here is an eye with which to see them keenly.