Strength in “Centralized” Numbers? Not Quite.

Image result for populated urban city(Image of New York City skyline, home to the most populated and among the most densely packed group of individuals in the United States.)

A belief engraved in several facets on American culture, from sports to sojourning through town with a group of friends, is the notion that remaining in populated, dense groups provides the most effective form of security and comfort. This practice may evoke a semblance of lowered vulnerability, given that a large quantity of surrounding individuals can serve as added protection should a problem arise. However, denser groups of individuals, buildings, or any physical object also cause a significant issue. The more compact objects are, the easier and more viable of a target they become.

“As a result, older, dense and ‘geographically bound’ cities, potentially impossible to disperse, were considered particularly vulnerable. For this reason and others, American scientists, strategists and other speculators turned New York and Washington into far more popular targets for projected nuclear attacks than less dense cities like Los Angeles and Houston.” (Farish 13)

In this quote, Farish explores two significant aspects behind the movement into the suburbs. Firstly, there existed an innate fear of attack by belligerent forces on large, densely populated cities. Such cities were easily target-able due to size alone, but also because weakening them would cause severe damage to key operations in infrastructure and supplies. Secondly, urban cities approached an almost outdated style of living, as without strategic planning for business and growing occupancy, cities would merely be dangerous centers for wartime threats, lacking the efficiency or economic appeal to outweigh the costs of living in a marked city.

America seemed to attempt to adjust according to Farish’s concerns, as the most populated city in the country, New York, served as the whom to the World Trade Centers, a beacon of global business. However, this did not prevent the attacks of 9-11 from targeting New York, exploiting the large population and density to inflict the greatest damage on the nation in moral and substantial, albeit temporary, damage to the economy.

Images of the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9-11 awaken such powerful fear in the minds of America for a variety of reasons. However, the arguably most poignant of these was that due to its great population and overall significance sociopolitical and economical realms of the country, New York exhibited an aura of being a true stronghold, a fortress. To witness the fall of a prized and powerful city likely evoked beliefs that the entire nation could be susceptible to far worse damage. The attacks may have been limited to a small radius, but striking a dense core of enormous significance brought forth harrowing thoughts of vulnerability for the country as a whole and individual people.



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