THE CITY IMAGE AND ITS ELEMENTS
be a public
of any given city
which is the overlap of many individual images.
there is a series of public images, each held by some significant
number of citizens.
Such group images are necessary if an indio
operate successfully within his environment and to
cooperate with his fellows.
Each individual picture is unique,
with some content that is rarely or never communicated, yet it
approximates the public image, which, in different environments,
is more or less compelling, more or less embracing.
This analysis limits itself to the effects of physical, perceptible
objects. There are other influences on imageability, such as the
social meaning of an area, its function, its history, or even its
These will be glossed over, since the objective here is to
uncover the role of form itself.
is taken for grante<L that in
actual design form should be used to reinforce meaning, and not
to negate it.
The contents of the city images so far studied, which are refer-
able to physical forms, can conveniently be classified into five
types of elements: paths, edges, districts, nodes, and landmarks.
Indeed, these elements may be of more general application, since
they seem to reappear in many types of environmental images, as
may be seen by reference to Appendix A.
These elements may
be defined as follows:
Paths are the channels along which the observer
customarily, occasionally, or potentially moves.
They may be
streets, walkways, transit lines, canals, railroads.
For many peo-
pIe, these are the predominant elements in their image.
observe the city while moving through it, and along these paths
the other environmental elements are arranged and related.
Edges are the linear elements not used or consid-
ered as paths by the observer. They are the boundaries between
twO phases, linear breaks in continuity: shores, railroad cuts,
edges of development, walls.
They are lateral references rather
than coordinate axes.
Such edges may be barriers, more or less
penetrable, which close one region off from another; or they may
be seams, lines along which
twO regions are related and joined
These edge elements, although probably not as dom-
inant as paths, are for many people important organizing fea-
tures, particularly in the role of holding tOgether generalized
areas, as in the outline of a city by water or wall.
Districts are the medium-to-Iarge sections of the
city, conceived of as having two-dimensional extent, which the
observer mentally enters "inside of," and which are recognizable
as having'some common, identifying character.
fiable from the inside, they are also used for exterior reference
visible from the outside. Most people structure their city to some
extent in this way, with individual differences as to whether paths
or districts are the dominant elements.
seems to depend not
only upon the individual bur also upon the given city.