Cities No Longer Need Help

Joel Kotkin argues that most U.S. cities that were struggling in the '60s and '70s have forged a comeback and should no longer need the sort of redevelopment and federal attention they've been given.

Kotkin explains his usual position that smaller, less dense urban areas and suburbs have been the true engines of growth, and urban cores are facing massive debt problems and far too much political attention. He sees the shift in power in Congress to more suburban-based Republicans as an opportunity to change direction.

Citing Christopher Leinberger, he says that the redevelopment of downtowns, for better or worse, has had its intended effect:

"As they have developed somewhat stronger downtown cores, lowered crime rates and reduced 'white flight,' the stronger urban cores are better positioned now, though perhaps less so than the boosters believe, to succeed on a market-oriented basis."

He concludes, "Cities need to break their reliance on outside help from a country that is, for the most part, not dense or urban."

Full Story: The Next Urban Challenge — And Opportunity




It's laughable that Kotkin thinks that cities rely on outside help, when, in fact rural areas get far more federal support per capita. I don't disagree that all the federal support should stop, but I'm not so blinded as to think that federal support doesn't happen everywhere. If you want to end it in cities, you'd better be ending all the other forms too (fannie mae, interstate highways, farm subsidies, etc).

Well, if cities like Paterson are going bankrupt...

I had no idea that the term "major" is now appropriate for cities like Paterson, NJ AND New York City, NY (in case you weren't sure which NYC I was referring to).

Michael Lewyn's picture


If cities are doing well, Kotkin says they don't need help. When cities were doing badly, Kotkin said they were obsolete. Cities just can't win with him.

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