Owen Hatherley, author of Militant Modernism, and RSB interviewee too, of course, has a wonderful entry about that finest of Southern cities, Southampton, up on his sit down man, you're a bloody tragedy blog:
The main reason for all this obsessive city-cataloguing, this rewriting and rewriting of the same piece - other than certain writing commitments combined with residual guilt from endlessly complaining about the place's provincialism despite my (and almost all my former Southampton friends) contributing to this in our small way, by fucking off to London or even further at the earliest opportunity - is that Southampton presents itself as a puzzle. Every time I go there the question 'how did this happen?' presents itself. How did this city, which by all accounts was once the undisputed regional capital (a perusal of The Buildings of England's extremely complimentary 1966 entry on the city is instructive here) get to the point where an entire stretch of its centre, as large as a small town, was given over to a gigantic retail park? How is it that the 16th largest city in the country has the 3rd highest level of violent crime and the 3rd worst exam results, despite being central to one of the most affluent counties? And does any of this have anything to do with the fact that the city contains what was, when built, the largest urban mall in Britain? (More...)
Those dear friends from other fine Southern towns, for instance Portsmouth, are invited not to comment!