US Macmillan Tradebooks for Courses

Variations on a Theme Park

The New American City and the End of Public Space

Edited by Michael Sorkin

Hill and Wang

Variations on a Theme Park Download image

ISBN10: 0374523142
ISBN13: 9780374523145

Trade Paperback

272 Pages



Request Desk Copy
Request Exam Copy


Sign up to receive information about new books, author events, and special offers.

Sign up now

America's cities are being rapidly transformed by a sinister and homogenous design. A new kind of urbanism—manipulative, dispersed, and hostile to traditional public space—is emerging at both the heart and the edge of town in megamalls, corporate enclaves, gentrified zones, and psuedo-historic marketplaces. If anything can be described as a paradigm for these places, it's the theme park, an apparently benign environment in which all is structured to achieve maximum control and in which the idea of authentic interaction among citizens has been thoroughly purged.

In this bold collection of essays, eight of our leading urbanists and architectural critics explore the emblematic sites of this new cityscape—from Silicon Valley to Epcot Center, South Street Seaport to downtown Los Angeles—and reveal their disturbing implications for American public life.


Praise for Variations on a Theme Park

"A fascinating account of the various kinds of manipulated but very real places in America today, this book is a model of cultural richness, strong critique, and vibrant history."—Gwendolyn Wright, author of Building the Dream: A Social History of Housing in America

'"These witty and properly outraged essays are the best introduction I know to worsening urban scene from sea to poisoned sea. Clarifying and terrifying by turns, they don't let you off with any happy ending. This is the Blade Runner of urban analysis, the rapier at the end of the window, the autopsy of a future already over—unless, perhaps, everyone who loves cities reads this book."—Todd Gitlin, author of Media Unlimited and The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage

"This is a scathing indictment of visual image and power. It shows the American landscape turned inside out: the conviction that all places are the same, that we are in constant movement to get there, that our search for authority and authenticity in the built environment winds up excluding others and buying into a visual theme."—Sharon Zuckin, author of Landscapes of Power: From Detroit to Disney World

Reviews from Goodreads