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How to Observe Your City

A new book offers a toolkit to help urbanites look closely and carefully.
relates to How to Observe Your City
Matt Dunham/AP

On a walk through the Madrona neighborhood—one of Seattle’s most historic, stretching toward Lake Washington—Charles R. Wolfe studiously noted what he saw, and what those sights conjured. First-floor retail shops recalled, for him, pockets of Glasgow or Edinburgh; a waist-high wall partitioning a community space from the street reminded him of outdoor seating in Lisbon.

Wolfe, a writer, photographer, and attorney, is a passionate proponent of indexing and dissecting urban landscapes. His new book, Seeing the Better City: How to Explore, Observe, and Improve Urban Space ($30, Island Press) is a toolkit for fine-tuning your observational acumen.