By Jonathan Guyer
I was in Marrakesh two weeks ago, which is teeming with tourists of all stripes, decked out in tank tops and short shorts. Coming from Cairo, I found the swaths of high school groups, families pushing strollers, and long lines outside museums to be a bit of a shock. We don’t see these folks in Egypt anymore. The outside world’s perception of Cairo as a dangerous battleground has devastatingly affected tourism.
The idea of my postcards from revolutionary Cairo is to re-think Egypt’s tourism industry—the new historic sites here that people across the world must see for themselves. I’m not advocating for war tourism or the fetishization of blight (as a Detroiter, I’m all too familiar with what has so aptly been called “ruin porn”). Rather, I intend to depict sites that Cairenes see everyday and would want to send to friends outside of the country.
Postcards almost always play off of the tourist’s imagination rather than the local resident’s appreciation of “attractions.” While paying homage to the colonial, Orientalist posters of the early 20th century, I hope to tease out the tensions and contractions of marketing contemporary Egypt. The burnt out National Democratic Party building and the half-built Nile Ritz Carlton are vistas as essential to Cairo’s skyline as the pyramids.
Cairo2150 plan proposes to move all of Cairo’s residents to an undisclosed location. The plan also proposes redirecting the Nile + consolidating islands to create a one to one replica of Manhattan island. The island will be home to the world’s largest air-conditioned golf course and exclusive gated malls and homes only accessible to visitors from the Persian Gulf and their friends. Now you can “live above it all” in the middle of Cairo. Buy your new property now in Manhattan on the Nile.
Robert Moses (December 18, 1888 – July 29, 1981) was the “master builder” of mid-20th century New York City, Long Island, Rockland County, and Westchester County, New York. As the shaper of a modern city, he is sometimes compared to Baron Haussmann of Second Empire Paris, and is one of the most polarizing figures in the history of urban planning in the United States. He changed shorelines, built bridges, tunnels and roadways, and transformed neighborhoods forever. His decisions favoring highways over public transit helped create the modern suburbs of Long Island and influenced a generation of engineers, architects, and urban planners who spread his philosophies across the nation.
Never elected to public office, Moses was responsible for the creation and leadership of numerous public authorities which he could control without having to answer to the general public or to elected officials. It is due to Moses that there are a disproportionate number of public benefit corporations in New York state, which are the prime mode of infrastructure building and maintenance in New York, and are currently responsible for 90% of the state’s debt. As head of various authorities, he controlled millions in income from his projects’ revenue generation, such as tolls, and he had the power to issue bonds to borrow vast sums, allowing him to initiate new ventures with little or no approval from legislative bodies, bypassing the usual power of the purse as it normally functioned in the United States, and the cumbersome process of citizen comment on major public works.
Moses’s projects were considered by many to be necessary for the region’s development after being hit hard by the Great Depression. During the height of his powers, New York City participated in the construction of two huge World’s Fairs: one in 1939 and the other in 1964. Moses was also in large part responsible for the United Nations’ decision to headquarter in Manhattan as opposed to Philadelphia.
His works remain extremely controversial. His supporters believe he made the city viable for the 21st century by building an infrastructure that most people wanted and that has endured. His critics claim that he preferred automobiles to people, that he displaced hundreds of thousands of residents in New York City, destroyed traditional neighborhoods by building expressways through them, contributed to the ruin of the South Bronx and the amusement parks of Coney Island, caused the departure of the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants Major League baseball teams, and precipitated the decline of public transport through disinvestment and neglect.
Barcelona is now widely recognised as one of the most successful cities in the world, internationally acclaimed for its innovative urban planning. It has survived the economic, environmental and social changes of the last decades through focusing upon the provision of knowledge-based and information services to place itself in the forefront of a new urban wave, in which city planning provides high-quality opportunities for people to live and work. In short, Barcelona has been transformed into a city that provides a highly impressive urban environment to all who visit it.
The foundation for Barcelona’s transformation has been the city’s Eixample district, a garden city expansion of 520 street blocks planned as long ago as 1859. Its high quality architecture, egalitarian design and ease of access have stood the test of time and it provides the model for modern city developments today.