I remember with great clarity the greatest urban experience I have ever had. It was in Venice in Winter. In front of the church of San Marco, the great square, which Napolean called the most beautiful drawing room in Europe, was empty. It was cold and foggy and the top of the Campanile barely showed sunlit above the low hanging sea mist. The tide was in, and the black and white stones of the intricately laid pavement were covered with a thin film of water. There was no sound - no automobile exhausts, no buses. Absolute quiet in the very heart of a great city. In the distance you could hear faintly some young people singing. All of a sudden the air became dark with birds, the square filled with the beating of thousands of wings, the noise increased and increased until it was deafening, and the deserted square became absolutely filled with pigeons. The noise was incredible - even frightening. They had come to feed, and when they had finished, they left just as quickly, and the great square was empty and quiet again.

L. Halprin, Cities, Rheinhold, N.Y., 1963, p. 9.

PLACE: Venice, Italy

TIME: 20th c.