In honor of the 100th Anniversary of Greater New York, the directors of the seven major historical institutions of New York City met to discuss their perspective on the city at a conference sponsored by The Bronx County Historical Society and the Institute for Applied Philosophy at the College of Mt. St. Vincent. The proceedings of this conference along with thirty-eight magnificent paintings by noted New York artist Jan Munro has now been published and is available from the The Bronx County Historical Society. The essays in this new publication furnish a rich and intricate view of New York City over the past one hundred years. One can digest these perspectives by looking at the city from a critical point of view and hold it up to a standard of how it should be. This is the utopian view. It's as old as Plato who saw the flaws of democratic Athens. He proposed in The Republic a perfect city run by philosopher-rulers where everyone would be happy because they would be doing what they were supposed to do. Plato did not suggest that his city could actually exist, indeed he explicitly stated that it could not. He was making the point that if you don't have any idea how things should be, you can't see how far off the mark you are, and you can't do anything to get closer to the goal. We have a modern utopian thinker in Lewis Mumford, who looked at cities in this way.
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