The Cities We Leave to Future Generations

After a period of spurning our cities, we are again becoming an urban nation.

For years, investments in highways, malls, and residential developments were focused on the suburbs. The infrastructure of America’s great historical cities, so often mired in fiscal difficulty, was left to decay.

Today we are seeing a resurgence of the urban spirit. We have woken again to the social benefits of city life. We appreciate the exchange and innovation, the cultural vibrancy, and the economic and environmental benefits of compact living. Large-scale development projects are underway in the city centers and city governments are again spending on urban infrastructure.

Continue reading The Cities We Leave to Future Generations

Skyscrapers Are Not What’s Going To Save The City

Ed Glaeser’s book Triumph of the City has launched a highly salutary discussion of the virtues of cities. But while it is full of excellent points, Triumph of the City goes off track in its prescriptions by giving the idea that the answer to the density issue is to build skyscrapers. In making that unwarranted leap, Glaeser has risked undermining the impact of his book as a whole. This is a pity, as the core message of Triumph of the City is one that needs to be well understood.

Continue reading Skyscrapers Are Not What’s Going To Save The City

Heyday by Kurt Andersen

Heyday takes place in the annus mirabilis of 1848. In fact, it is as enveloping an immersion into that time as many of us will ever get.

The 1840s are an era often neglected and misunderstood, glossed over by our history survey courses as they rush from the “Age of Federalism” to the Civil War; or, in the case of European history, that is dispensed with along with the whole nineteenth century with a couple of words about the Industrial Revolution and the creation of nation-states. What Andersen understands, and brilliantly conveys, is the depth of this pivotal, exciting, genuinely revolutionary – in several ways – point in history.

Continue reading Heyday by Kurt Andersen