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In 1872, Ismail Pasha, the khedive of Egypt, was the first to adopt the European custom of positioning heroic statues on public display as a symbolic message of the continuing authority of the ruling Muhammad Ali dynasty to which he belonged, but it was not until the early twentieth century and the determination of sculptor Mahmoud Mukhtar that such public art gained general acceptance, and today statues stand, ride, or sit in the streets, squares, and gardens of Cairo. Each sculpture adds a piece to the jigsaw of history spanning personalities and events that shaped the city and wider Egypt from 1805 to 1970, and here Cairo-based author Lesley Lababidi provides a unique perspective on Egyptian history through looking at more than fifty statues and monumental sculptures and the stories behind them.
Between statues, she explores Cairoâs growth and its multidimensional identity, as manifested in the development and changing use of city space over the centuries, and examines the relationship of Cairoâs modern denizens with the landscapes, districts, palaces, archaeological sites, cafés, bridges, and gardens of their great and maddening city, the Mother of the World.
Illustrated throughout with color and black-and-white photographs by the author, Cairoâs Street Stories presents a unique and lively view of the history that fashioned the cityâs streets and open spaces, and of the many and often unexpected uses to which its inventive inhabitants put them.