Reclaim The Streets - History

History

The earliest written source for the phenomenon "reclaim the streets" can be found in Marshall Berman's (1981) All That is Solid Melts Into Air. In a chapter entitled "Modernity in the Streets" Berman writes:

"At the ragged edge of Baudelaire's imagination we glimpsed another potential modernism: revolutionary protest that transforms a multitude of urban solitudes into a people, and reclaims the city streets for human life. . . Thesis, a thesis asserted by urban people starting in 1789, all through the nineteenth century, and in the great revolutionary uprisings at the end of World War One: the streets belong to the people. Antithesis, and here is Le Corbusier's great contribution: no streets, no People." (pp. 166-167, emphasis added)

Streets have many times been occupied with the intent of using them for other things than traffic. For example, a group of environmentalists occupied the streets of central Stockholm in autumn 1969. And in 1990-91 the same group arranged a tradition of 20 minutes "culture crashs" in busy street crossings. Like other occupations against car traffic before 1991, these events were not called Reclaim The Streets.

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