The development of urban areas in Europe, the US and Canada marked the rapid progress of the western civilization. The unparalleled growth of cities in the epoch of industrialization was accompanied by the consistent economic, social and cultural progress, while the contemporary western society is predominantly urban society to the extent that it is even possible to estimate that the modern western civilization is the urban civilization. In such a context, it is quite natural that a typical western city reflects the human and cultural geography of the western civilization, which is comprised by European countries and North American states, such as the US and Canada. Hence, the western city can provide a researcher with ample information on the culture and socioeconomic life of the western society.
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First of all, it should be said that the development of cities in western countries, namely in Europe, the US and Canada was the natural result of the dramatic and profound changes that took place in western societies. In this respect, it is worth mentioning the fact that western civilization was traditionally oriented on the development of its cities as the major centers of its cultural, political and socioeconomic life. For instance, since the ancient epoch of the Roman Empire and Hellenism, cities absorbed the major advances in socioeconomic life, technology and culture. Today, cities have not only preserved its function as centers of the western culture, socioeconomic and political life, but increased their significance even more.
To put it more precisely, today the life of western societies is concentrated in urban areas. In fact, it is large urban areas, huge metropolises that define the development of western society. In this respect, it is even possible to speak about certain similarities between western cities even if they are located on different coasts of the Atlantic. For instance, on comparing a large American city, such as the New York City and London, it is possible to say that they are similar in principle, though there are certain local peculiarities, which are not really significant because they do not make both cities really different on the civilization’s level. In other words, on analyzing the human and cultural geography of both cities it is possible to definitely estimate that they belong to one and the same civilization. At this point, it is possible to speak about the fact that the structure of western cities, such as London and New York, reflect the social and economic structure of the western civilization. For instance, there are financial centers, such as the City and Wall Street, where the financial activities of the US and the UK is concentrated. These areas are closely associated with financial and business centers and symbolize the economic advancement of the western civilization for huge deals are made and enormous capitals are circulating here. On the other hand, there is practically always, the other side of the modern city life, which is far from prosperous and rich business and financial centers, such as the City. For instance, there is the East End or Harlem, which, being relatively different, reveal the fact that the modern western civilization is far from perfect and the rich, posh parts of the western city may be contrasted by poverty stricken neighborhoods where standards of life are consistently lower, while the crime rate is consistently higher than in rich parts of the city, which are financial and business centers, or residential areas where representatives of the middle and upper class reside.
At the same time, the entertainment industry is traditionally widely represented in western cities. In this respect, sport is probably the most popular in the modern western city. Wherever the city is located there are stadiums and other sport facilities, where people can not only practice sports but also entertain themselves. The popularity of sports facilities reveals the importance of the healthy lifestyle for the western society.
In addition, modern western cities are centers of the political life of western societies. Each large city is a political center of a particular region or even the entire country. For instance, the White House or Downing Street are closely associated with the center of the political life of the US and the UK respectively. It is worth mentioning the fact that the western city is also a place where the democratic liberties and rights are basically observed for political protests, meetings and other political significant events can take place in large western cities.
In such a situation, the question arises: whether the western city is a positive or negative achievement of the human civilization. In actuality, it is hardly possible to give a definite answer to this question. On the one hand, the western city symbolizes the progress and achievements of western civilization. The concentration of the population in cities contributed to the considerable economic growth and the scientific breakthrough. In this respect, it is important to underline that the industrial and scientific revolutions could hardly be possible without the urbanization and growth of western cities. It proves beyond a doubt that both revolutions needed the huge human resources because in case of the industrial revolution, the large amount of employees was needed, which lived and worked compactly, while, in case of the scientific revolution, it was necessary to provide large masses of people with knowledge, form essential skills and abilities in order to conduct the scientific researches and make a considerable scientific progress on the bases of well-educated elite and educated masses who could apply scientific achievements in practice.
On the other hand, the growth of cities and urbanization of the western civilization had a number of negative side effects. First of all, the concentration of the population in urban areas led to the overpopulation of cities. As a result, many large cities faced a problem of a serious socioeconomic crisis. To put it more precisely, the large masses of people that migrated from rural zones to urban areas needed work and food to survive. Obviously, western cities at first stages of their development could not supply both, i.e. work and food, for all people. As a result, the problem of unemployment and poverty affected consistently the life of people in urban areas. As the matter of fact, this problem persists till present days contributing to the huge socioeconomic disparity between different classes of the urban population. In actuality, a considerable part of the urban population lives in poverty and, what is more important, this part of the urban population is deprived of absolutely equal opportunities with representatives of the middle and upper classes. What is meant here is the fact that the urban poor are deprived of the opportunity to get a good education as well as higher education. Also, they often face the problem of unemployment. Such a bunch of socioeconomic problems leads to the high crime rates, which make poverty stricken neighborhoods socially dangerous because of the high crime rates and the growing dissatisfaction of the local population with their socioeconomic position compared to the privileged elite of the rich parts of the city.
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that western cities reflect the human and cultural geography of the western civilization. On the one hand, they are socioeconomic, cultural and political centers, while, on the other hand, they have serious socioeconomic problems which threaten to the stability of western societies. In such a way, western cities incorporated all the achievements and controversies of the modern western civilization.
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