The streets, squares, and monuments of the central city are the places where - at least in the traditional European view, and despite their partial exclusion of many groups (e.g., women, slaves, foreigners) - history is made. This has prompted twentieth century totalitarian regimes [...] to co-opt these traditional city spaces in their attempts to rewrite history. [...] The intermittent democratic re-liberalization of public urban spaces demonstrates their ongoing symbolic value to the citizenry, especially in an age of "placeless" global media. These urban spaces still symbolize the city's promise of freedom from oppression.
- David Grahame Shane, Recombinant Urbanism
My classes have lately held discussions on the built environment's influence on social and economic change. This section from my urban design reading stood out in my mind as commentators and journalists mapped out the spaces of Egypt's cities.
Today's New York Times addresses this issue here.