The view from the tower : geographies of urban transformation in Glasgow

Pacione, M. (2009) The view from the tower : geographies of urban transformation in Glasgow. Scottish Geographical Magazine, 125 (2). pp. 127-181. ISSN 0036-9225 (

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Glasgow, along with many other British cities, has undergone a dramatic and at times traumatic process of change over recent decades as a consequence of a host of public and private forces operating at a variety of geographic scales from the global to the local. The economic, social and environmental outcomes of this process are imprinted in the urban landscape. This landscape can be read by the trained observer. In this paper I employ the analytical and interpretative skills of the geographer to explain a number of key processes and patterns of urban change in Glasgow. It should be pointed out that although the empirical focus of this article is on the city of Glasgow the transformative processes and their urban consequences are also evident, to a greater or lesser extent, in Scotland's other cities. The study is organised into six main parts. In the first part I present a reading of the urban mosaic from the vantage point of the Glasgow Tower. Three major perspectives of the city's transformation relating to its history, economy and society are identified and used as a basis for subsequent detailed discussion. In the second part I explain the global and local forces that have conditioned the processes of urban transformation in Glasgow. In the third part I employ an historical perspective to examine the changing physical landscape of the city. In the fourth part I consider recent changes in the city economy, and in the fifth part I examine a number of key social dimensions of urban change. Finally in the sixth part I employ a prospective viewpoint to consider the future view from the tower, and then identify key local contextual factors underlying processes of urban transformation in Scotland's other cities.