Environment: Understanding Cities

When most people visit a city, they consult the regulation guidebook, dutifully trudge around to examine the local museum, the famous landmarks, and the historic sites—and then think they know all about the place. Nothing could be farther from the truth, says Richard Saul Wurman, 37, a Philadelphia architect. Only when Americans really understand the thrust and logic, or illogic, of their cities can they start to improve the urban mess around them.

Easier said than done. But Wurman is convinced that the man-made environment of cities holds few mysteries if urban information is...

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