Sunday, August 17, 2014

Peter Hall 1932-2014


Peter Hall died last month. I won't try to assess his legacy, as I wrote an Editorial in Cities some years ago when he was knighted. Then, I expressed thanks for all the support he gave to the journal, for which he was a Board member for a long time. 
I was saddened by his sudden death. He had acted as a mentor to me, and gave me my first job in 1976, at a time when they were few and far between. I had been badgering him for some time to write a paper for CRoC but he claimed that at his advanced age he was cutting down on his commitments [but went on to produce at least two more books!].
I was pleased to see that he was featured in the Economist [for August 9] but that turned rapidly to disgust as I read the hatchet job that someone had assembled [correspondents tell me that this was not the only unkind assessment of Peter's legacy]. 

I wrote to the Editor with the following complaint. 

"Your obituary of Sir Peter Hall (August 9th 2014) does a disservice both to the man and his profession. Rather than the obsessive trainspotter-cum-hack that one might imagine from your account, Dr. Hall had a research doctorate and began his career at the LSE, which should give him some legitimacy in your eyes. He held a chair at the University of California, Berkeley for many years, and was still active as a Professor at UC London at the time of his death. He wrote and edited over fifty books and published hundreds of scholarly articles in addition to his more polemical work.  Many of his books remain in print decades after they were written, including pioneering work on city regions and on urban creativity, which predated the current fad for 'the creative class'." 

This does not really make the case for what I wanted to say, but then an astonishing scholarly legacy should stand above such mealy-mouthed critiques. This excellent summary [including an evocative photograph] is what anyone who is unfamiliar with Peter's legacy should know about this wonderful man. 

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