How Coronavirus Will Change Cities, From Public to Private Lives
Bill Fulton writes a two-part series on the future of cities after the pandemic, premising the entire exercise on two points: that cities have always existed, and that cities have also evolved. Despite the anti-urban messages gaining a larger audience as the coronavirus pandemic takes an especially heavy toll on New York City, Fulton suggests that cities are cleaner and safer than they were a century ago, and that they have thrived for a long time because they are adaptable.
Fulton takes those lessons to mean that cities will surely change as a result of the coronavirus: "The world after COVID-19 will be different — as it is after any disaster. And COVID-19 will accelerate changes that have been brewing in cities for a long time. The result will be a new kind of city, different than what we have seen before. A city that should be able to withstand shocks like COVID-19 in a sturdier fashion."
With more details on each of these points, Part 1 includes a list of predicted changes in cities and the world after the pandemic is over:
- A renewed focus on public health
- More sophisticated urban design
- Fewer retail stores and a different kind of street life
While Part 1 of the series digs into the public life and design of cities, Part 2 focuses more on the private side of life in cities:
- A changing office work environment
- More flexible public transit
- A renewed appreciation for just plain old walking
Fulton states a summarization of these predictions thusly: "Fewer stores but more bars and restaurants — and maybe a more bustling street life. More remote work and therefore more activity in neighborhoods. A more carefully constructed, safer public realm. More flexibility in getting around. All of which will make cities — and their suburbs — better places to live."