chapter  7
26 Pages

Historic and Prehistoric Origins of American Urban Space

We have experienced relative space for hundreds of millennia and have figured out how to use the brute fact of spatial configurations in our evolutionary journey. The long revolution from hunter-gatherer and nomadic life to city dweller and civilized life that began without the aid of yet-to-beinvented geometry would take centuries of trial and error learning. How to arrange space to make what would be a city would likely come from matching what a social group built with learned, orally transmitted understandings and a tacit knowledge of spatial patterns. Tacit knowledge of primitive spatial/visual building blocks-ontological primitives underlying spatial configurations-appears to be part of our evolved cognitive/ behavioral

capabilities, and, as toolmakers and users, we have unconsciously employed mental models of these patterns for millennia, eventually creating urban spatial patterns over the last 5000 years. A key innovation in real property five to six millennia ago is a significant part of this story because it provided the foundation for urban public space.