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Publisher's Summary

Ours is an urban age. Before 1800, less than one in 10 people lived in cities. Today, more than eight in 10 people in the Western Hemisphere alone live in cities. From Uruk and Eridu in ancient Mesopotamia to London and New York City in the 21st century, cities have long supported and sustained what makes us human. 

But can they survive the next 100 years? If so, they’re going to have to remain livable. In this 10-lecture series, focusing on that livability is at the heart of livable cities, Professor Mark Alan Hughes discusses why we seek out cities and how they create the conditions that allow us to meet our fundamental needs as individuals and as a human community. 

You’ll examine the many innovative ways cities around the world meet our most important needs - refuge, exchange, meaning, freedom, identity, knowledge, health, and nature - through everything from neighborhood design to recreational trails to creative programs promoting political engagement. You’ll also reflect on some of the most controversial issues cities face today, including racial inequality, pandemics, and climate change. And you’ll come away with lessons in livability that offer a toolbox for unlocking their benefits anywhere.

There are millions of stories in every major city. Start here with Livable Cities to learn a few of them.

©2021 Audible Originals, LLC (P)2021 Audible Originals, LLC.

About the Creator and Performer

Mark Alan Hughes is Professor of Practice at the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design and the founding faculty director of the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy. He is also a faculty fellow of the Penn Institute for Urban Research and a research fellow of the Wharton Risk Center at Penn. In 1992, he won the National Planning Award for his research in city and regional planning. Hughes was Chief Policy Adviser to Mayor Michael A. Nutter and the founding director of sustainability for the City of Philadelphia, where he led the creation of the Greenworks Plan in 2009. He has designed and fielded national policy research projects, including the Bridges to Work program in transportation policy and the Energy Efficient Buildings Hub in economic development policy.

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What listeners say about Livable Cities

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Don't Miss Hughes' Lively "Livable City"

If you are a city-lover (or even if you are not), you must not miss Mark Alan Hughes' information-packed and entertaining guide to understanding the dynamics of urban growth and development. Hughes' masterful synthesis of a vast literature, drawn from the social sciences, history, philosophy, science and the arts, illuminates the origins and trajectory of cities in a deceptively simple but highly nuanced series of lectures. Journalistic and scholarly at the same time, Hughes interjects his personal experiences in making cities livable -- he served as Philadephia's first sustainability director under Mayor Michael Nutter, crafting the award-winning Greenworks plan, still being implemented-- to make the story come alive. You will enjoy every minute of this presentation.

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  • 07-01-21

Real and lasting passion for the subject!

These lectures are simply spectacular! The writer/lecturer's passion for the subject is very evident and the conceptual framework is most engaging. An expertly woven story of politics, architecture, and history make this book a must. The author's narration is superb and is such a pleasure to listen to. It is accessible to all but not undemanding in terms of thoughts, themes, and theses.

8 people found this helpful

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Not about cities, but about the author's politics

Most of this course is the speaker's personal opinion masquerading as analysis. It makes sense that he would do this, as he is a political radical and has been a political operative for quite a long time (and in fact, he names a Philadelphia mayor who was his boss as 'one of the most consequential mayors in Philadelphia history'). But that does mean that he is not the best choice to give this course, especially if he's not even going to try being objective and give the facts, rather than his own opinions.

In the most supreme irony of them all, Hughes approves of the widespread rioting and looting that has resulted in dozens of lives lost and billions in property damage, making a lot of cities quite unliveable. He also asserts racism in the case that was the pretext for this rioting, which is an unsubstantiated claim not even the prosecutor made in that case, and the equally radical Attorney General of Minnesota denied explicitly that it was a 'hate crime'. It must be nice to be a college professor and not a prosecutor, so one can make such claims without even a white of evidence.

Other assertions are also made without any foundation, like the claim that "automobiles have driven people out". All those automobiles are driven by people, so I am not sure what he is even trying to say, let alone what the foundation for this claim would even be.

The substance is also quite weak. Even though he does mention that definitions of cities go back to Plato and Aristotle, all the works that he actually cites are from 2018 or more recent. I find it hard to believe that nothing intelligent about cities was written about cities between 350 BC and 2018 AD. It seems to be either the professor being ill-informed or just lazy. One of those works even excluded any city that does not have 'ethnic diversity' from the definition of city, which is just bizarre.

7 people found this helpful

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Only for Woke Socialists

Author Mr. Hughes has gone off the deep, left end of logic. SUMMARY: Rich, white people must pay to fund a system where all folks who live in the cities can vote on how to spend the extra money.

Lots of words the socialists throw around like "collaboration," "belonging," "awareness," "work together," yada yada. You know the story. Nothing about those on welfare getting jobs to make the city better. Nothing about stopping crime from WITHIN the community or family. No, Mr. Hughes wants to defund the police and spend the difference on social programs "to help." The performance continually pulls in data from obscure sources to motivate an argument. Usually this data is obviously only the tip of the story and could be looked at in opposite ways, but we just move on. All this data is akin to hearing someone read the phone book - a serious annoyance. The only audible book of hundreds I could not finish.

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A must listen!

An amazing exploration of our global cities, with interesting and thought provoking stories, quotes, and facts that will stick with you long after the program is over. Hughes’ passion for these topics comes across so well on audio. You will love this audiobook!

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A fascinating book - so relevant to our Times

I stumbled across this book, and found it really interesting. Hughes is so well read and includes relevant references and ideas from Aristotle to today. In every chapter (each focused on one of his themes), he offers a number of specific examples of what cities around the world are doing. And his conclusion - about the essential role of cities in human happiness - is pointed and, unexpectedly, positive. Essential reading (listening) for anyone curious about urban planning, policy, equity in this time.

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Cities and climate change

Although short for an entry in The Great Courses, this is interesting. There's a smattering of concepts about cities: are people deserting large cities due to the pandemic and remote work? (The author is a strong proponent of cities - the larger the better.) The author talks about participatory budgeting, superblocks and more.

But principally, this book is a vehicle to talk about climate change. I don't mind that; it is a serious crisis and one we all need to be talking more about. The author talks about rising sea levels, steps cities are taking to handle climate change, and steps particularly forward thinking cities are taking to ban single-use plastics in a few years. He talks about the projections of just how bad things can get. It's disturbing, but important information.

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Phenomenal Course

Great PO!icy course. will need to listen again to get the details I missed. kudos

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Captivating from Beginning to End

I listened to this with an eye on Memphis, where I work, but also as someone who cares about the sustainability, and certainly, the livability of cities. This was an amazing course that I would recommend to my high school age children as readily I would any of my friends. Huhges synthesizes so many disciplines and makes them accessible. I was hooked from the introduction until the survivability section, and inspired about the paths we need to take in cities around how we all can reach our highest aspirations. Hughes challenges us not to take things for granted; such that our cities will always function, have potable water, roads that work, and that there is law and order etc. Dr. Hughes’ series challenges our assumptions about what we may know about cities and what we may think about how they will exist in the next 100 years. As a someone who lives in a city and works in a public facing organization, I am curious about understanding how cities, and American cities, came to be, and how they function… this book does that. I could not stop listening. I highly recommend this series.

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A Multidisciplinary Exploration

From history to architecture to philosophy to politics—this is a rich, multidisciplinary journey through some of the world's leading cities, reminding us why we love to them. LIVABLE CITIES is a series of engaging lectures that take both a broad and deep dive into what makes urban life click. Along the way, author and reader Mark Alan Hughes teaches us that cities are really mirrors that reflect our own humanity—our needs, wants, and aspirations. Find compelling stories about everything from water and energy solutions to local governance. Pandemic Bonus: Travel to some of the world's great cities—Barcelona, Philadelphia, Paris, and Philadelphia without hopping on a plane.

1 person found this helpful