The Crescent in Urban Planning, A distinctly English feature / by Ginevra Held

On my walk to the V&A the other day I had to turn left at Pelham Crescent, which got me thinking, what a distinctly English feature of Urban Planning this is.  In Paris, they have many “Place” but I can’t say I’ve come across any Crescents.  The place, like the Place des Vosges (my favorite) is square and modeled on the medieval town square.  Place des Vosges is extremely similar to a Medieval village square in that all the buildings are facing inward, and there is an arcade on the street level! Amazing.  American cities don’t really have this.  If we do, it certainly doesn’t have the arcade, and is often of an overbearing scale.

Here is Pelham Crescent:

Title: There and Back Again, a Hobbit’s Tale.  jk. I’m an elf.  

Here is Place des Vosges:

Place des Vosges

Place des Vosges

There are many crescents in London, the other one I’ve made a point to visit in the past is   Lansdowne Crescent in Notting Hill, and that is because Jimi Hendrix died there.  I will have to make a point of visiting it again.

Anyway, I just thought this was really interesting.  As I am writing this, I just thought of how both New York and San Francisco have the triangular block which gives rise to a triangular building.  The flatiron building in New York, and Columbus Tower in San Francisco(which is owned by Francis Ford Coppola the home of Coppola’s Cafe Zoetrope).

Side by side of Flatiron and Columbus Building:

The Flatiron building in New York, and the Columbus Building in San Francisco.

The Flatiron building in New York, and the Columbus Building in San Francisco.

What is so interesting about this, is that the carving of a city, determines the type of architecture.  So when you have a crescent, your buildings are curved, when you have a public square they face in and may have an arcade, and when you have a triangle, you get, well a triangle!