“We all come to know each other by asking for accounts. by giving accounts and by believing or disbelieving stories about each other’: pests and identities.” writes Paul Connerton in How Societies Remember. Social memory relies on story-telling, but what specialists call place memory can be used to help trigger social memory through the urban landscape. “Place memory” is philosopher Edward S. Casey’s formulation: “It is the stabilizing persistence of place as a container of experiences that contributes so powerfully to its intrinsic memorability. An alert and alive memory connects spontaneously with place. Ending in it features that favor and parallel its own activities. We might even any that memory is naturally place-oriented or at least place—supported.” Place memory encapsulates the human ability to connect with both the built and natural environments that are entwined in the cultural landscape. It is the key to the power of historic places to help citizens define their public pasts: places trigger memories for insiders, who have shared a common past and at the same time place often can represent shared pasts to outsiders who might be interested in knowing about them in the present.
Place memory is so strong that many different cultures have used “memory palaces” —sequences of imaginary spaces within an imaginary landscape or building or series of buildings— as mnemonic devices.