Vitruvius - Satyric Scene

"One need only contrast this definition with the realities of the eighteenth-century city to see how radically suburbia contradicted the basic assumptions that organized the premodern city. Such cities were built up on the principle that the core was the only appropriate and honorific setting for the elite, and that the urban peripheries outside the walls were disreputable zones, shantytowns to which the poorest inhabitants and the most noisome manufactures were relegated.
[…] From its earliest usage in the fourteenth century until the mid-eighteenth century, a 'suburbe' - that is, a settlement on the urban fringe - meant (in the definition of the Oxford English Dictionary) a 'place of inferior, debased, and especially licentious habits of life.' The canon's yeoman in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales says of himself and his master, a crooked alchemist, that they live 'in the suburbes of town. We lurk in corners and blind alleys where robbers and thieves instinctively huddle secretly and fearfully together…'
In Shakespeare's London so many houses of prostitution had moved to these disreputable outskirts that a whore was called 'a suburb sinner,' and to call a man a 'suburbanite' was a serious insult."

- Robert Fishman, Bourgeois Utopias

AuthorChris Hamby