Friday, April 26, 2013

The meticulously preserved skeletons of past crimes...

...can be found in most metropolitan areas. (this will be a long post).

No, I am not talking about grisly tales of bones being discovered in some urban repository, rather I am talking about architecture.

Architecture has always been a fascinating subject to me.  It lies at a cultural, economic, and technological intersection and typically remains for decades and sometimes centuries.  A record of past epochs and empires...what they thought was they spent their wealth (and even clues as to why they spent it).  The location and concentration of architectural achievement is also telling with respect to the scaleability of the source of wealth providing it.

In the title to this post, I allueded to "crime", but that is probably not fair as that particular term is a very liquid one when referring to the sources of wealth and its "legality".  What is fair to say is that many of the most interesting architectural achievments are concentrated in a few cities, and at times of massive influx of wealth.  Even more interesting is that ostentatiousness appears to be directly correlated with what can charitably be termed "distatstful" sources of income.

Consider for example the City of London, with its regal homes, many of which were built by profits from Opium trading via the East India Company.

Or perhaps the most egregious example, Versailles, which cost  France an estimated 50% of GDP for 10+ years.

Opulence and conspicuous consumption seem attracted to the relative ease of fortune accumulation.

No comments: