Does Praise for Metropolitan Revolution Overlook Plight of Urban Poor?

In a recent column in The Times, Thomas Friedman exalted America's metropolitan revolution. But in cities like Chicago, the 'most exciting innovations in governance' have failed to improve the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of residents.
August 7, 2013, 12pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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In a recent column in The New York Times, "Friedman may indeed have been standing on his head when his optimism spilled out of him," writes Steve Bogira. "He'd just read an 'important new book'—The Metropolitan Revolution, by a pair of Brookings Institution scholars, Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley. In it, they wax rhapsodic about cities and metro areas."

"A revolution is stirring in America," Katz and Bradley declare. "Empowered by their economic strength and driven by demographic dynamism, cities and metros are positioning themselves at the cutting edge of reform, investment, and innovation."

"They must have started this revolution without us," bemoans Bogira. "Chicago, like many big cities, is suffering. I'm not even talking about the city's major budget problems. I'm talking about the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of Chicagoans."

"Until it becomes reality, celebrating the shiny new metropolis is, to put it mildly, premature," he demurs. "And it's smug to talk about remade communities—'quality, affordable, and sustainable'—when misery and inequality are still rampant in so many urban areas."

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Published on Monday, August 5, 2013 in Chicago Reader
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