Kunstler describes the street as embodying the public realm in America because we lack “the thousand year old cathedral plazas” of Europe. It may be overwhelmingly true for most of the United States, even absolutely so if the thousand year qualifier is added and one assumes no active precolombian places of worship, but here in Puritan Massachusetts we have nearly 400 year old church plazas:
There is no longer an absolute consensus among all residents that what is now called Court Square (though the church site predates any courthouse by some time) is our public meeting space and living room, but, together with the contiguous City Hall steps, it is the most often used location for demonstrations, celebrations, manifestations, and festivals.
Would the people of the city and perhaps the region know intuitively that it should be the rallying point for any significant democratic or populist show of force? Of that I would not be so sure. I have seen gatherings at the state office building and at the federal courthouses old and new. I suppose it is a measure of people’s perception of subsidiarity which causes them to select one or another location.
Be that as it may, we have a well defined, attractive public space which is flexible enough to give individuals in numbers ranging from 10-10,000 a location to join together as a citizenry. Maintaining that tradition and even re-establishing it with those to whom the concept is foreign would be an excellent way to repay our ancestors for gifting us such a lovely location to hear and be heard.