Back Yard to the City
What makes a great city? Is it the streets and avenues, the parks and shops, the storied mansions and splendid fountains?
I’d like to cast a vote for the alleyway.
This alley in Vancouver, BC, won’t appear on a post card. But as part of a network of alleyways, it helps to make Vancouver a great city. Step into the alley and you catch the mingled odors of samosas, urine, and dust. People come and go delivering socks and diamonds, potatoes and coffee beans. And you’ll notice Vancouver’s intestines are located here: power lines, sewers, recycling bins, access for fire trucks, and pathways for the night watchman. Streets belong to the people, not to delivery trucks and power poles, because alleyways are there to serve them.
For composer John Cage, silence was as important as sound. Cage wrote 4'33" No. 2 for musicians who sat on stage for four minutes and 33 seconds without making a sound. Instead, the audience got to hear the music around them.
An alleyway is like silence in a city.
So the next time you’re in town, take a moment for the alleyway. It’s worth a detour.