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  • Amman’s Heart and Soul II: Jabal Amman’s First Circle Area » CSBE
    and urban character as they had developed during the second quarter of the twentieth century and no area represents that period of Amman s past as well as the First Circle area In addition to having a distinct architectural and urban heritage the First Circle area is also of considerable historical significance Numerous instrumental figures in the creation of modern Jordan on the political economic and cultural levels built or rented their homes there The history of a formative period of Jordan s evolution is etched in its stones Although it used to be one of the city s most prominent districts the First Circle area underwent a period of gentle decline that had taken hold by the 1970s and continued for over two decades until the mid 1990s During those decades most of its affluent residents moved out to settle in Amman s newer outlying neighborhoods and its elegant upscale commercial street Rainbow Street officially known as Abu Bakr al Siddiq Street lost prominence to the city s new commercial districts The area s decline turned out to be a blessing in disguise and in fact ended up saving its architectural and urban heritage As it became a less attractive residential district for affluent Ammanis and as the level of commercial activity along Rainbow Street decreased much of the area was more or less left alone and was spared the process of extensive rebuilding and expansion that has destroyed the unique identity and urban cohesiveness of more active established parts of Amman such as Jabal al Husayn and the Shmeisani district As is the case with many cities throughout the world this elegant older urban district eventually was rediscovered after being largely shunned and forgotten for almost a generation This rediscovery was primarily through the efforts of a handful of individuals and NGOs who began renovating and readapting a number of its older houses for new uses One old house became the showroom for the Bani Hamida rug weaving project as early as 1989 In 1994 the house adjacent to it was renovated to become the showroom for the Jordan River Foundation A few years later a group of nearby houses was converted into Books Café an establishment that features a restaurant internet café and bookstore A few private residences also were renovated at that time These relatively small scale interventions were enough to direct attention to the area s historical architectural and urban significance Soon afterwards a number of cultural institutions established their offices in the area Following that various commercial establishments moved in including galleries restaurants and cafés as well as handicrafts and antique shops Moreover a few years ago a small side street branching out of Rainbow Street was converted on Fridays during the warm months into an open street market The Amman Municipality eventually took an active interest in these transformations and implemented a project for upgrading Rainbow Street that was completed a few months ago For the time being the area s architectural heritage

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/amman-s-heart-and-soul-ii-jabal-amman-s-first-circle-area/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Amman’s Heart and Soul: The Downtown Area » CSBE
    of place may take hold in the city s newest districts its old core most of which dates to the second quarter of the twentieth century already has so much to present whether in terms of historical roots or a mature and sensitive architectural and urban character This core consists of the downtown area and the slopes of the surrounding hills or jabals facing it amongst which Jabal Amman and Jabal al Luweibdeh stand out in terms of historical significance as well as architectural and urban value These areas are all undergoing processes of transformation and this transformation needs to be regularly monitored and assessed as a first step in helping ensure that the qualities of this urban core are maintained This article will address what is taking place in the downtown area and the one following it will address the First Circle area of Jabal Amman Until the early 1970s the Amman downtown was where the whole city came together It is where most of the city s residents did a good part of their shopping It housed a number of the city s public institutions ranging from governmental offices to the Husayni Mosque which for many years served as Jordan s primary mosque Most of Amman s cinemas and many of its restaurants also were located there Moreover before the Amman Intercontinental Hotel was constructed during the early 1960s between Jabal Amman s Second and Third circles the downtown area also had the city s only modern hotel Philadelphia Hotel which unfortunately was torn down during the 1980s after a prolonged period of slow decline With the advent of the 1970s the character of the downtown area underwent considerable change as many of the public and commercial institutions located there moved outwards Since then the area primarily has come to house low budget shops In spite of this downscaling it has remained a very vibrant and active yet over crowded part of Amman Also important is that it is one of the few districts in the city where the automobile has not completely taken over Parking is not allowed along most of its streets it has relatively decent sidewalks and in spite of its heavy traffic the movement of vehicles for the most part remains slow paced Since this transformation of the 1970s the nature of the downtown area has not changed drastically If anything its character as a low budget shopping district has more strongly taken hold The heart of the downtown district consists of the areas surrounding the Husayni Mosque and the King Faysal Square The area surrounding the Husayni Mosque remains more or less as I have remembered it for decades It is packed with shops selling a dazzlingly wide array of products One s senses are overwhelmed by the crowds of people walking along its sidewalks the noise generated by cars and pedestrians as well as the colors and shapes of the extensive variety of products sold there which seem to almost burst out

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/amman-s-heart-and-soul-the-downtown-area/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Public Art » CSBE
    Most Beautiful District Amman Street Maps A New Frontier Soundscapes of Amman Airport Road Parking in Amman Privilege or Right Time Zoning To Commute or Telecommute The Shopping Mall Apartment Living Sidewalks of Amman Riyadh Property Rental Laws Beirut Public Transportation Cities of the Arab East Zoning Urban Sprawl The Domination of Amman Introduction An Anatomy of the City Using Public Transportation in Amman Publications Resources Urban Crossroads Public Art Public Art Urban Crossroads 83 The Travelers Project an installation of twelve sculptures that move through Sanridge Bridge Melbourne Courtesy of Nadim Karam and Atelier Hapsitus One way of categorizing art is according to accessibility At one extreme are works of art located in private collections and therefore accessible only to a limited few A good part of the world s artistic heritage however is housed in museums most of which are open to the public but one still has to set aside a good chunk of time and make the effort to visit a museum and very often has to pay a hefty fee to enter At the other end of the spectrum is public art This is art located in public spaces and is therefore accessible to all One may regularly drive or walk by it or specifically visit it as a destination It may be relatively small in size as when located in an intimate public space but very often is overwhelming in scale and may be seen from considerable distances The most conventional examples of public art consist of works of sculpture or fountains located within a public space such as a city square or park Although this is what comes to the minds of many when thinking of public art it only presents a fraction of available possibilities as public art encompasses all art forms ranging from the conventional to the outer limits of the avant garde In addition to sculpture public art therefore may include murals landscape compositions street furniture lighting arrangements for a building or site expansive fabrics animated LCD images or even moving sculptural elements Of course public art also may consist of an actual structure such as a building or a bridge Consider the Eiffel Tower in Paris the Cairo Tower or the Abdun Bridge in Amman Some may like those structures while others may not but many would agree that at a certain level each of them functions as an example of public art In fact the limits for what constitutes public art are very hazy For some even a fleeting event with a strong visual component such as a street parade would qualify A main role of a work of public art is to make a visual statement The more powerful and original the statement the more effective is the work in terms of engaging the viewer Public art also may have a commercial message usually a subtle one as when a corporation sponsors it It also may convey political or nationalistic messages and often incorporates national and historic

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/public-art/ (2016-02-13)
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  • The City’s Creative Energies » CSBE
    Florida identifies the Creative Class to include a core group of professionals such as scientists professors poets novelists artists entertainers actors designers architects writers editors researchers and analysts Beyond this core group is another set of creative professionals that consists of those involved in the high tech sector financial services the legal and healthcare professions as well as business management Florida states that these people engage in creative problem solving and draw on complex bodies of knowledge in seeking innovative solutions They require high levels of formal education and they regularly are required to think on their own The success of a city is strongly linked to its ability to attract and retain a sizable Creative Class In order to do so Florida stresses that the city must possess three critical factors Technology Talent and Tolerance or what he refers to as the three T s The nature of creativity Creativity as a concept is not easy to define In its most general sense it encompasses novelty and innovation Of importance is that creativity expresses a marked tension between the need to maintain stability equilibrium and security in our lives on the one hand and the urge to seek new possibilities and experiences on the other Whenever the preference for safeguarding characteristics of the past or present is overwhelmingly dominant creativity is stifled When considering creativity the arts often are the first to come to mind There is a widespread conception that creative people are primarily involved in fields such as the visual arts literature theater and music A natural correlation between such fields and creativity definitely exists The artist concentrates on observing commenting upon and critiquing the natural physical and social worlds around him or her In doing so a good artist explores new frontiers and attracts attention to new voices concepts possibilities and opportunities He or she brings ongoing debates regarding where a society may be heading into sharper focus and generally keeps people aware of the significant creative potentials of human thought Creativity however extends far beyond the world of the arts The great leaps that different societies have made throughout history often are linked to a realization of their creative potentials and a mushrooming of their creative capacities Many human accomplishments ranging from scientific discoveries and inventions to revolutionary business ideas are a direct result of the creative mind at work Creative energy in Amman How do Amman as well as the other cities in the Arab Middle East relate to the debate on creativity and the city I recall how as a child growing up in Amman during the 1960s and 1970s creativity unfortunately had no place in our education Our studies depended greatly on memorization and this applied to almost all our classes whether in the humanities or the physical sciences With the exception of a weekly drawing class our school curriculum did not even feature any activities in creative writing music or theater This clearly has been changing I have taught university students

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/the-city-s-creative-energies/ (2016-02-13)
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  • A New Amman, for Better and for Worse » CSBE
    Nasr al Qal ah al Nuzhah I have asked older residents of Amman about the seven hills and they also can recall only five or six of them I am almost certain that the notion of Amman as a city on seven hills is more an urban legend than a reality Exploring how this legend came into being would make for a very interesting topic of investigation but that is another subject for another time This seven hills legend still involves an element of truth Until the early 1970s much of Amman was located on a group of hills definitely more than seven that surrounds its downtown area which brought the city together geographically socially and economically One usually had to go through the downtown area to get from one jabal to the other primarily using the shared taxi locally known as service system Also many of the city s important commercial establishments and public institutions were located in the downtown area It was there where Amman s residents would shop for a wide variety of goods go out to eat or go to the cinema And it was there where the country s Central Bank the elegant headquarters building of Jordan s largest bank the Arab Bank the central post office and a number of government ministries were located The western hills of Amman the jabals of Amman al Husayn and al Luwaybdah generally were its more affluent parts but Amman s residents did not think of the city exclusively in terms of relatively affluent western hills and less affluent eastern ones but also thought of Amman as a ring of hills surrounding a shared downtown core This began to change during the 1970s as Amman experienced a phenomenal wave of growth and began to spread beyond those hills As a result the downtown core and the surrounding hills were diluted within a much larger sprawling metropolitan area Many of the public institutions located in this older Amman were moved to the newly emerging surrounding districts Also a good segment of Amman s commercial establishments especially its upper end ones now were to be found outside this traditional zone and sizable shopping areas emerged to serve the city s new districts A number of these new districts even came to be associated with specific commercial or business activities The city s banking district for example came to be situated in Shumaysani Shmeisani and al Suwayfiyyah Sweifieh emerged as the city s major shopping area particularly for clothing While Amman previously could be understood as a city of hills surrounding the downtown area by the 1990s it became very difficult to draw such a tidy mental image of the sprawling city In turn the new Amman that emerged was conceived as consisting of two zones Eastern and Western Amman This division not only expressed a geographic distinction but more importantly also referred to two entities with differing socio cultural characteristics a more affluent rather cosmopolitan Western Amman and a less

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/a-new-amman-for-better-and-for-worse/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Bottom-Up Urban Development » CSBE
    Urban Sprawl The Domination of Amman Introduction An Anatomy of the City Using Public Transportation in Amman Publications Resources Urban Crossroads Bottom Up Urban Development Bottom Up Urban Development Urban Crossroads 80 Kampung Kali Cho de Indonesia Gregorius Antar Aga Khan Trust for Culture There are many tasks that municipal authorities can and should do for the city They need to ensure that it functions in a reasonably smooth and efficient manner and to support the quality of urban life for its residents This includes keeping the city clean overseeing its traffic maintaining upgrading and expanding its infrastructure as well as managing growth and land uses through developing and implementing suitable zoning and building regulations In doing so municipalities usually function in a top down manner carrying out their tasks through a bureaucratic structure that administers staff and machinery A generally forgotten half of this equation relating to urban dynamics involves a bottom up arrangement This depends on the city s residents coming together often through grassroots community based organizations to work on improving the quality of their urban life Examples of such an arrangement abound in both affluent as well as poor settings One example is the local neighborhood based volunteer zoning committees often found in North American cities These committees work in association with municipal authorities The municipality presents all building permit applications or proposed zoning modifications affecting the neighborhood to such committees and their members review the proposals and provide the municipality with their feedback and recommendations Although the recommendations of these committees are not legally binding municipalities generally take them seriously These committees consist of volunteer representatives from the local community who actively care about their neighborhoods and the quality of life in them The committees also function as an important asset for the city in that they create a link connecting the neighborhoods residents with the centralized bureaucratic municipal structure Through these committees neighborhood residents are provided with direct access to the decision making process taking place in the municipality and also are provided with the opportunity to have a say in it rather than feeling helpless and alienated in relation to a faceless impersonal and occasionally inefficient bureaucratic machine From the point of view of the municipality while such committees may not necessarily always support its actions and often may take on the role of an irritating watchdog they nonetheless provide the municipality with a much needed open channel of communications with neighborhood residents and a mechanism for understanding their needs and concerns Comparable though different structures also exist in impoverished parts of the world A great example is what has been taking place during the past couple of decades in a number of kampungs or informal settlements in Indonesia The relevant authorities have carried out upgrading projects in these kampungs as with developing certain infrastructure services including the installation of sewage lines and paving paths Impressive improvements however also have resulted from the initiatives of local residents who have come together to form

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/bottom-up-urban-development/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Urban Life and Rising Commodity Prices » CSBE
    The rise is partly due to increased global wealth a good portion of which is coming out of the world s two emerging economic power horses China and India The economies of these two countries are growing rapidly and a higher percentage of their sizable populations now has considerable disposable income and aspires to lead the same standard of living as the vast middle classes of the Western world Their emerging middle classes are engaging in new consumption patterns that include buying more cars and more energy intensive household appliances as well as consuming larger quantities and more expensive types of food items Considering that these two countries have over a third of the world s population these new consumption patterns are drastically affecting demand on commodities throughout the world and placing considerable strain on their supply How does this affect urban life in a city such as Amman Well the world has become highly interconnected in ways unimaginable less than a generation ago when international trade remained relatively restricted as a result of factors primarily connected to national protectionist policies Even though we have come to live in a world with increasingly strict national boundaries that aim at keeping outsiders who are too poor or too different out we also are living in an increasingly globalized and interrelated world This world depends greatly on highly advanced telecommunica tions networks that span the globe and is characterized by extensive levels of international trade featuring massive and continuous cross border movements of people capital and goods These forces of increased globalization are impacting city life everywhere with tremendous force The residents of Amman therefore are finding themselves strongly affected by changing consumption patterns taking place in China and India The price of oil which is Jordan s largest single import item consequently is skyrocketing We all feel the pain of this increase most directly in transportation and in heating our homes and indirectly in the rising costs of just about every available consumer product or service particularly foodstuffs Interestingly enough even the international prices of food and of energy are becoming inter connected in unexpected manners This extends beyond the fact that energy is needed to produce food For example corn is being increasingly used to manufacture ethanol fuel and no longer is only grown to feed people and animals thus greatly increasing demand on it and further pushing up its price As a result of the increase in oil prices the energy needed for transportation which often takes up about a quarter to one third of a country s total energy consumption is going up drastically as is the cost of heating buildings This eventually will force us to completely rethink the configuration of the city and its buildings Compact cities where people only need to cross relatively short distances to get from one place to the other are far more efficient than sprawling ones where one has to drive and to traverse significant distances whether to get to work

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/urban-life-and-rising-commodity-prices/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Urban Change: Management and Resistance » CSBE
    of its residents to change Change often is imposed by external factors and not usually initiated by those it affects let alone embraced by them This applies to all societies but more so to those for which change has not been institutionalized and built into their political and cultural systems Human beings are conservative by nature and generally are very comfortable continuing to do things the way they always have They may accept change if it is of the quantitative easy kind that allows them to continue doing what they always have done but with more ease They may grudgingly accept change that finally is implemented after being instituted or legislated for some time And change can be embraced under certain circumstances as when reaching a tipping point at which the status quo no longer is tolerable Otherwise people generally are comfortable sticking to their usual routines although such routines may not necessarily maximize efficiency or pleasure in their lives When asked to change those routines even if for the better the reaction often is that of resistance People generally are comfortable with what they have known and tried and apprehensive towards what they do not know or have not tried There is no shortage of such patterns of reaction to change in urban life Consider street cleaning and garbage collection If municipal authorities implement easy quantitative changes that feature increased street cleaning and garbage collection city residents generally would welcome such changes as they would make the city cleaner but would not require any significant modifications to their behavior or lifestyle To take this a step further if the city initiates a campaign aimed at more effective enforcement of anti littering regulations this probably would be met with a grudging acceptance Such enforcement would require residents to institute changes in their behavior These regulations however have been there for some time though not seriously enforced and therefore already have been mentally internalized by most Moreover they are intended to serve the public good On the other hand if the city puts in place a compulsory recycling program that requires residents to make the effort of separating their garbage and penalizes those who do not a wave of public complaints and resistance very well may break out If the city authorities are persistent in the face of such complaints and resistance and implement the garbage recycling program effectively and efficiently residents eventually will accept the change imposed on their lifestyle and at one point even may embrace it This may result from increased environmental awareness The city authorities also may build up support for the program by showing for example how the income generated from selling recyclable garbage provides additional financial resources that help improve garbage collection and street cleaning services Another example is that of traffic If a new traffic artery is built that provides an easier and more direct link between a central and suburban part of the city most residents will welcome it as this is an

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/urban-change-management-and-resistance/ (2016-02-13)
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