The Image of the City

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The Image of the City
First edition
Author Kevin Lynch
Language English
Subject Urban Planning, Architecture
Publisher The MIT Press
Publication date
Pages 194 pp.
ISBN 0-262-62001-4

The Image of the City is a 1960 book by American urban theorist Kevin Lynch. The book is the result of a five-year study of Boston, Jersey City and Los Angeles on how observers take in information of the city, and use it to make mental maps. Lynch's conclusion was that people formed mental maps of their surroundings consisting of five basic elements.[1]

Lynch's Five Elements[edit]

  • Paths
    • These are the streets, sidewalks, trails, canals, railroads, and other channels in which people travel;
    • They arrange space and movement between space.
  • Edges
    • Boundaries;
    • They can be either Real or Perceived;
    • These are walls, buildings, and shorelines, curbstone, streets, overpasses, etc.
  • Districts
    • Medium to large areas that are two-dimensional;
    • An individual enters into and out of these areas;
    • Have common identifying characteristics.
  • Nodes
    • Large areas you can enter, serve as the foci of the city, neighborhood, district, etc.;
    • Offers the person in them multiple perspectives of the other core elements.
  • Landmarks
    • Points of reference person cannot enter into;
    • These are buildings, signs, stores, mountains, public art;
    • Mobile Points (such as Sun) can be used as well.


  1. ^ Lynch, Kevin (1960). The Image of the City. The MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-62001-4.