15 Pages


Urban street space is more complex than building space because it is a collective creation. Urban planners, civic offi cials, residents, and users of the streets work together, and sometimes at cross-purposes, in order to create the use of the streets and the space along them. To fi nd one’s way to a specifi c location within a city, one must know or learn that society’s ideas about the proper use of space. Each trip to a shop at the edge of a city or a temple at its center reinforces cultural ideals and power relationships between the creators and users of urban space.4 In some recent studies of the Roman city it has been assumed that the organization of urban space with relation to the streets refl ects elite interpretations of societal norms and that the elite were able to impose their ideals on the physical fabric of the city thanks to the coercive support of the civic or imperial government.5 What has too often been forgotten is that residents of a city rarely agree completely on what societal norms should be. Class or ethnic divisions, for instance, can lead to competition as some people try using street space in new or opposing ways that are tolerated, accepted, or rejected.