The Ominous Side of America's Urban Comeback

"The comeback of the urban core is a striking reversal of long-term trends," proclaims Richard Florida. Although this rebound is good for urban growth and prosperity, it hasn't been able to solve enduring problems of poverty and disadvantage.
May 6, 2013, 2pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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"The urban rebound is real," says Florida. "America’s urban cores and downtowns have become centers of innovation, growth, and consumption. The comeback of the core is a good thing—a very good thing—in that it provides the resources and capital that are required to create jobs, generate a viable tax base, improve living standards, and create deeper, more longer-lasting urban growth and prosperity."

"But America’s ongoing urban comeback is far from complete," he adds. "Isolated islands of prosperity remain surrounded by seas of distress and disadvantage."

Through a series of maps indicating the concentrations of America's three main socioeconomic classes in several cities, Florida traces "the striking class divides" that have accompanied this reversal. "Even as the urban core has rebounded and regenerated, large swaths of poverty, concentrated disadvantage, and urban distress continue to exist in a hidden, almost parallel dimension that is ignored by or invisible to many politicians, developers, and new urbanites."

"The next and perhaps greater urban challenge is to extend the benefits of rejuvenating cores to a far broader swath of people and neighborhoods," Florida argues. "We need to put equal if not greater effort into ensuring that the people and communities that are falling behind—still a clear majority in most cities—can participate in and benefit from this ongoing urban transformation."

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Published on Tuesday, April 23, 2013 in Urban Land
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