The Image of the City | Study Guide

Kevin Lynch

Download a PDF to print or study offline.

Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic


Course Hero. "The Image of the City Study Guide." Course Hero. 12 Oct. 2020. Web. 6 Oct. 2022. <>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2020, October 12). The Image of the City Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved October 6, 2022, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2020)



Course Hero. "The Image of the City Study Guide." October 12, 2020. Accessed October 6, 2022.


Course Hero, "The Image of the City Study Guide," October 12, 2020, accessed October 6, 2022,

The Image of the City | Quotes


Nothing is experienced by itself.

Kevin A. Lynch, Chapter 1

The Image of the City examines the ways people experience several characteristics at once to create a singular image or understanding of a city. Lynch accentuates the importance of finding balance to create the most navigable and pleasurable urban settings. Lynch argues that these elements come together in a person's mind to create a mental map that is unique to each person who navigates the city.


Structuring and identifying the environment is a vital ability among all mobile animals.

Kevin A. Lynch, Chapter 1

Lynch highlights the importance of navigating a city. He argues that all mobile animals including humans have an innate need to navigate their surroundings efficiently and safely. City planners should keep this need in mind when designing cities.


Strain and anxiety accompanied even the best prepared expeditions.

Kevin A. Lynch, Chapter 1

Lynch surmises that becoming lost induces a feeling of impending disaster and that people will take many precautions to avoid becoming truly lost. He encourages city planners to keep in mind the fear and strain human beings experience when traveling to unknown locations and give people a pleasant experience with the city by making them easy and pleasant to navigate.


Los Angeles seemed to be hard to envision or conceptualize as a whole.

Kevin A. Lynch, Chapter 2

A resident of Los Angeles points out flaws in the city's urban design. Lynch emphasizes that the use of space should have a function and purpose. Spread-out cities might sound appealing on paper, but city dwellers found that a city that is too sprawling or without focal points lacked character and navigability.


There was an emotional delight arising from a broad view, which was referred to many times.

Kevin A. Lynch, Chapter 2

Lynch observed that residents of Boston, Jersey City, and Los Angeles reported that they liked to see a panoramic view of their city. Lynch notes the emotional and aesthetic pleasure of viewing a city in a broad view is an important element urban planners should try to incorporate in their city designs.


Elements and attributes became remarkable in terms of their setting in the whole.

Kevin A. Lynch, Chapter 2

Lynch's study suggests that researchers and city planners should evaluate ways the elements of a city come together to create a lasting impression on city dwellers. Studying the elements of a city without considering how they affect and are influenced by other important characteristics creates an incomplete understanding of how citizens view and navigate their cities. Cities that have a weakness in one or more these elements become difficult or unpleasant to navigate. Lynch's research informs ways cities are built or revitalized.


Each individual picture is unique, with some content that is rarely or never communicated

Kevin A. Lynch, Chapter 3

Lynch notes that the mental maps that people create are unique to each individual, and there are elements of each mental picture that are rarely or possibly never communicated with other people. Memories, emotional connections, or personal histories create special emotional landmarks that may not be shared with other people. City planners cannot plan for these connections but they are important in the creation of mental maps.


There are other influences on imageability.

Kevin A. Lynch, Chapter 3

Lynch acknowledges that his study is missing some elements of what makes a city imageable. Elements such as social function, historical importance, or the name create an emotional connection that is as important as the physical characteristics that are the focus of Lynch's study. He notes that this study focuses on the ways physical attributes create a mental map but the importance of emotional connections should not be ignored. An emotional connection could be a memory of an important event or a reminder of a loved one rather than the physical features of the area.


City images ... can be classified into five types: paths, edges, districts, nodes and landmarks.

Kevin A. Lynch, Chapter 3

Paths, edges, districts, nodes, and landmarks make up the main study of The Image of the City. Lynch spent five years identifying and refining the definition and meaning of these characteristics and studying the ways they work together to create a mental image of a city. Cities that incorporate all of these elements have a more memorable and navigable design.


The image of a given physical reality may occasionally shift its type with different circumstances.

Kevin A. Lynch, Chapter 3

Lynch's research highlights the ways paths, edges, districts, nodes, and landmarks work together and affect each other. He notes that these definitions are not exclusive and that some elements may serve different roles for different people. Lynch's research emphasizes the importance of individual perspective and the interplay of these characteristics on the overall understanding of a city.


Complete specialization, final meshing, is improbable and undesirable.

Kevin A. Lynch, Chapter 4

Lynch surmises that city spaces can and should serve multiple functions. For Lynch other art forms such as paintings, flowers, or music served only to create an aesthetic. City forms should be aesthetically pleasing as well as have practical functions in the city. Lynch's research encourages urban planners to consider the function as equally important as the form of new urban developments.


The common hopes and pleasures, the sense of community may be made flesh.

Kevin A. Lynch, Chapter 4

Lynch notes that the physical characteristics of a city should reflect the culture and personality of the community living in the area. New developments should point to a bright, safe, and growing future. Lynch notes that these elements contribute to a positive image of a city in the minds of city dwellers and visitors.


Then it will become a true place, remarkable and unmistakable.

Kevin A. Lynch, Chapter 4

A city transforms from a mere location on a map to a place that has emotional meaning for the observer when citizens imbue their surroundings with their own hopes for the future. The ultimate goal for city planners is to create spaces where citizens impart some of their own personality, hopes, and future dreams into the physical characteristics of the city. The city becomes part of the fabric of the individual person's psyche.


Every scene is instantly recognizable, and brings to mind a flood of associations

Kevin A. Lynch, Chapter 4

Lynch describes the city of Florence, Italy, that is widely recognized for its beauty and romanticism. The city's characteristics are not perfectly constructed but Lynch argues that the city becomes an integral part of inhabitants' lives because of the imageability and emotional connection the city offers.


If art and audience grow together, then our cities will be a source of daily enjoyment to millions of their inhabitants.

Kevin A. Lynch, Chapter 5

Lynch concludes his book by acknowledging that more research and study are necessary to understand the intricacies of city form, mental maps, emotional connections, and the way environments affect city observers. He compares city planning to a complicated and intricate art study that is forever shifting and growing. He encourages future developers to keep searching for balance, innovation, function, and pleasure to best serve the people who will work, visit, and live in American cities.

Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about The Image of the City? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!