Urban Transport and Telecommunications

Dual Forms of the Communicative Skeleton of the City

Authored by: Aaron Shapiro

The Routledge Companion to Urban Media and Communication

Print publication date:  October  2019
Online publication date:  September  2019

Print ISBN: 9780415792554
eBook ISBN: 9781315211633
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter explores the possibility that how we imagine the city abstractly, and how we navigate its public and private spaces concretely, are profoundly shaped by the “stacking” of telecommunications and transportation infrastructures in urban environments. Of course, in the “smart city,” this stacking is becoming increasingly apparent as mobile, Internet-, and location-enabled devices proliferate across the urban landscape. But focusing too intently on these more recent technological overtures would miss the historical depth of transport and telecommunications’ dynamically interrelated operations. The first section of this chapter considers the relationship between rational address or house numbering systems and rational spatial orderings; the second examines the utility pole as a technology of extensibility and urban expansion in the 20th century; and the third considers the role of mobile dispatch as a technology of coordination in the maintenance of uneven urban geographies.

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