The Rise of Urbanization
The Inevitable, Accelerating Rise of Urbanization
by Gabe Klein
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"Many Americans seem surprised when I speak about the rejuvenation of urban centers and the reimagining of the American suburb. But those of us who have been working in cities for the past decade or longer are not so surprised. In fact, among my friends I even hear some grumbling that, like a favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurant suddenly overrun with tourists who discovered it through a Yelp review, “everyone has figured out our secret” and “the millennials are taking over” now that cities have been “discovered.”
The reason we longtime urban dwellers are not surprised by this rejuvenation is manifold. For a long time we have been enjoying an amazing quality of life relatively unnoticed—with ten- to 30-minute commutes (often on foot or bike or via transit), a relatively reasonable cost of living (particularly when the higher transportation costs for living outside the city are subtracted), and the energy and stimulation afforded by a diverse population in a dense environment. This means that exciting new businesses, interesting restaurants and bars, and the culture provided by museums, music, and more are all within a walk or a bus or taxi ride.
Those of us who are students of history and cities have also known that the fluke is not that cities are making a comeback. The fluke is that cities for four or five decades became only a place in which to work. No longer were they places to live and raise a family. This mistake in planning, building, and transportation was actually temporary. The psychology goes like this: Let’s say you were born in 1950 (which makes you 64 years old) and grew up in a suburb of a city, as most people did in that era. You likely never saw the buzz of a healthy city, with streetcars running and kids riding their bikes to school. For you, it would be reasonable to see suburbanization as the trend rather a blip in a longer-running trend of vibrant city life.......continued below