CITIES AREN’T DOING AS WELL AS YOU THINK

Joel Kotkin in The New Republic:

Hip cities like San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, and Boston are the new role models, [Richard] Florida has argued; and non-hip locales are duly forewarned, as a headline in The Washington Monthly put it, that cities “without gays and rock bands are losing the economic race.”

In some respects, of course, the last ten or so years have been a good time for American cities. Most urban areas, particularly New York, became safer and cleaner than they were in the ’80s. And, certainly, we are no longer living in the dark days of the ’70s–an era symbolized by the 1981 cult classic Escape from New York. These trends have made urban life more attractive to some and thereby stimulated residential construction as well as slowed–and in some cases reversed–the flight from cities of jobs.

But these developments notwithstanding, the renaissance of American cities has been greatly overstated–and this unwarranted optimism is doing a disservice to cities themselves…

More here.

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