Segments in this Video

"The Civilized City" (03:59)


George Nelson created the L-shaped desk and wall clocks, and is credited with the proliferation of the pedestrian mall. In "How to See: Visual Adventures in a World God Never Made," he stresses that seeing is thinking. Cities can be seen as depressed, dirty, and crime-ridden or as an expression of humankind's hopes.

Changes in "The Civilized City" (04:25)

Cities are varied and diverse; some are established on beautiful waters while others contend with harsh landscapes. During the 19th-Century, innovations in steel and glass allowed for skylights and glass roofs. Modern cities include enriched walking surfaces that add visual texture and dimension.

City Street Designs (03:39)

Street types include: vehicular, one-sided, water, curved, bridged, colonnaded, block, and pedestrian mall. People are more relaxed when walking upon a pedestrian only street. Public stairways are ideal for people watching.

Functional Versatility (05:04)

"The Civilized City" allows unplanned or unexpected events and happenings. Devices common to the cities include: clocks, lampposts, telephone booths, and words. Shops often exchange images or symbols instead of words to provide markers for the illiterate.

"No Nos" (01:58)

Each city creates a way to tell its citizens not to proceed, including: symbols, spikes on benches, fences, walls, and locked doors.

Public Sculpture (03:05)

Traditionally, sculptures were created to memorialize heroes or celebrate great events and depicted famous individuals, noble beasts dragons, horses, and mythological creatures. Modern sculpture evolved into abstract or geometric images.

Water, a Necessity Made Beautiful (02:16)

Traditionally, citizens used fountains for cooking and drinking water; now children play in them. Although moving water instills more tranquility in viewers, still water has soothing properties. Worldwide concern arose when experts predicted Venice would sink.

Relieving Stress in the City (03:20)

Stress relieving devices in local cities include: fiestas, parks, sports locations, and improvised entertainment. Floral iron wrought benches are treasured landmarks. "the civilized city" is the greatest collective artwork of mankind.

Credits: George Nelson: The Civilized city (00:24)

Credits: George Nelson: The Civilized city

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George Nelson: The Civilized city

DVD (Chaptered) Price: $129.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $194.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $129.95



An illustrated essay by architect George Nelson on the nature of the urban center in our times and through history.

Length: 29 minutes

Item#: BVL128506

ISBN: 978-1-64023-338-6

Copyright date: ©1978

Closed Captioned

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.

Not available to Home Video customers.