"Downtowns are an American invention, says Joel Kotkin, an expert on cities. London, Paris and Tokyo all lack a single centre where commerce, entertainment, shopping and political power are concentrated. Such cores did emerge in early 20th-century American cities thanks to steel-frame architecture, which made it possible to build high, and because they had central railway stations. Fifty years later, almost all were gutted by the internal-combustion engine, which enabled people and jobs to move to the suburbs. They have been trying to revive themselves ever since."
Peter Gordon remarks on the article in his blog:
"Left alone, private developers create 'lifestyle centers' by the thousands that fulfill the functions of centers -- and have eclipsed the downtown. If there is going to be a main urban center, it will not be as dominant as downtown interests dream about. Markets are signalling the nature of the best forms of development for the auto-oriented world."
Thanks to Peter Godon