Segregated in the City

As more and more people move to the cities, the prevalence of economic and racial segregation becomes more and more apparent.
October 29, 2008, 12pm PDT | Judy Chang
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"Increasingly cosmopolitan metropolises on every continent live under the specter of global tensions flaring up on their streets rather than on some distant battlefield. Even though this climate of fear hasn't stopped the inexorable path of urbanization, it has made growth patterns more segregated. Modern urban cityscapes better reflect Orval Faubus's vision for the world than Martin Luther King's. When Lyndon Johnson declared segregation 'forbidden' in the halcyon sixties, I doubt he or anyone else envisioned the racial and economic fault lines that divide cities four decades later. Segregation as a legal institution vanished in most places, but it's alive and well as a market phenomenon."

"A recent article by Peer Smets and Ton Salman in Urban Studies argues that 'segregation is indeed on the rise, its effects are becoming gloomier and there is ample reason for concern.' Urban development, once the domain of the state, is increasingly left to the private sector where market forces dictate catering to the upper classes. This leaves large segments of society sequestered in shabbier districts with less access to public or private services. Shrinking and out-of-fashion welfare states are unable to address the growing gap between rich and poor in most cities. Nor are they a match for the needs of the oncoming migration waves into cities worldwide."

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Published on Monday, October 27, 2008 in Next American City
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