Places Without People: The World as a Vessel

Heads up: If you follow me on Google+, you might have already seen this. 

The urban landscape dipped and soared across the horizon, lifeless buildings jutting out of untouched concrete. Only the sound of the trees swaying in the morning breeze interjected the near-harrowing silence. No litter twirled about on the wind, no voices or laughter echoed between edifices, no footsteps tapped the ground.

Would you be able to guess where this place is?

In reality, it could be anywhere from Hong Kong, to London, to Cape Town. The above paragraph could be describing any city in the world. True, it’s not an in depth or descriptive account, but the skeleton provided – the buildings, the ground, the horizon – could be labelled with any name. It would be insignificant, though, without the aspects that make a city come alive.

Paris with no people, isolated paris video, what makes a place special

Screenshot from the video of an empty Paris

Add in the nuances of the people who occupy these spaces, or the colours, sights, smells, sounds, and you might be able to hazard a guess at where in the world this city is.

Sure, certain buildings indicate certain places (we would all recognise Paris when faced with the Eiffel Tower), but they simply become a holding pen when there’s nothing to populate, to create movement, and to provide atmosphere.

Because, essentially, that’s what makes a place; the people, the atmosphere, the rituals, the culture, the specific smells associated with it. Without these, a place is merely a vessel.

Think of a place you love. Are there specific sights, smells, and sounds you associate with it?

My guess is that there is, and that these are the reasons you love it so much.

Bucharest old town, Romania, buildings in Romania

People in Bucharest

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4 replies

    • Completely agree with you Rachel! Usually it’s the people in a place we feel strongly about, whether it’s annoyance towards pushy vendors or joy at people’s friendliness. But, when it boils down to it, it just wouldn’t be the same without them.

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