Course Details

Course offered Summer 2019

HONORS 230 A: Bones and Blood of the City: How Seattle Works Behind the Scenes (SSc)

HONORS 230 A: Bones and Blood of the City: How Seattle Works Behind the Scenes (SSc)

SLN 11794 (View UW registration info »)

Richard Conlin (Urban Design and Planning)

Credits: 5
Limit: 14 students

Honors Credit Type

Summer A-Term
How can hundreds of thousands of people live, work, and play in close proximity to each other? What keeps them from fouling their dense environment and fighting with each other? What systems have been put in place to enable large populations to stay healthy, move around, secure food and water, and minimize conflict? Cities work because over painful centuries, systems have evolved that protect public health and safety while providing amenities that support the life and work of the people who live in the City. An extraordinary network of facilities and people work to make city life possible. Astonishingly, a very large network or array of services can depend on and be controlled from a single point, and an amazingly small amount of space and resources can serve a very large population. Humans have congregated in urban forms for millennia, but it took a long time to figure out how to manage their water and sewage, to provide power and transportation services, and to manage the sometimes challenging interactions among them and create thriving and diverse communities. This class will delve into the key structures that have been built up over time (and mostly in the last several centuries) to provide formal systems that make urban life possible. This course uses viewing and assessing urban systems and their contexts on the ground to tell the story of the city.

Participants will travel to key locations, meet with the people who run these systems and facilities, and tour the core services. As background, students will learn about the history of urban development and how the ways in which we design and manage cities evolved over time, along with some of the motivations and unintended consequences that we still live with and have to manage for the future.