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City by David Macaulay


post written by Emma Filbrun

City by David MacaulayTitle: City
Author: David Macaulay
Major Themes: Architecture, Engineering, Science, Rome
Synopsis: Over the period of 125 years, a city was laid out and built in northern Italy.

We’re slowly working our way through David Macaulay’s books about architecture. Our latest one was City, a story of Roman planning and construction. Once again, the details in the pictures are wonderful!

In 26 BC, the emperor Augustus ordered that a city be built in northern Italy. A team of military engineers were sent to the area, and 2,000 soldiers were retired to there as well, with orders to help build the new city as well as become the first settlers there. After the priests and surveyors located a healthy site which would be easy to build on, the new city was laid out and construction began.

Roads, bridges, and the city wall were built first, followed by an aqueduct to bring water to the new city. I think the aqueduct was what caught my boys’ attention the most. They were quite intrigued by it. The system that supplied water to the whole city was very interesting, as well.

The building of the forum, markets, amphitheater and theater are also described, as well as individual houses and shops. As the city grew, some areas had to be demolished and rebuilt to accommodate the growing population. It was quite interesting to follow that progression.

Anyone who is at all interested in architecture will find this book fascinating. In fact, almost anyone would enjoy looking at the pictures. They are extremely detailed line drawings that bring Roman times to life. If we had a coffee table, this is the kind of book I would leave laying on it at times for people to pick up and look at.

WARNING: On page 8 a priest examined the livers of animals to determine the healthfulness of the area. On page 68 a shrine to the gods is mentioned. Page 86 shows a man drying off after bathing, with his back to the viewer.

Age Levels:

Read Aloud—Ages 8 – 12
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12, 12 – 15


Links to buy City:

Amazon: Paperback | Hardcover

AbeBooks: View Choices on

Book Depository: Paperback | Hardcover


Architecture, Engineering, Science, Ancient Times, Rome

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