Saturday, July 26, 2008

The 'Demographic Inversion' of American Cities

'We are not witnessing the abandonment of the suburbs or a movement of millions of people back to the city all at once. But we are living at a moment in which the massive outward migration of the affluent that characterized the second half of the twentieth century is coming to an end. For several decades now, cities in the United States have wished for a "24/7" downtown, a place where people live as well as work, and keep the streets busy, interesting, and safe at all times of day. This is what urbanist Jane Jacobs preached in the 1960s, and it has long since become the accepted goal of urban planners. Only when significant numbers of people lived downtown, planners believed, could central cities regain their historic role as magnets for culture and as a source of identity and pride for the metropolitan areas they served. Now that's starting to happen, fueled by the changing mores of the young and by gasoline prices fast approaching $5-per-gallon. In many of its urbanized regions, an America that seemed destined for everincreasing individualization and sprawl is experimenting with new versions of community and sociability.'
--from a thought-provoking cover story in the current issue of The New Republic, by Alan Ehrenhalt, the long-time editor and now publisher of the excellent Governing Magazine, which recently published an article on similar demographic trends in Atlanta. As long as you're over at Governing, you might as well also read this great piece on the prosecution of public corruption cases, an especially charged topic after the Bush-Rove attempts to corrupt that process.


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