A Roundtable Discussion on the Future of Cities

Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been shortage of opinions on the coming evolution of cities. It’s time to check in with the debate.

2 minute read

August 10, 2023, 6:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Cincinnati and Covington

Is the pendulum of urban history swinging toward Cincinnati? | Smart Pro Imaging / Shutterstock

“It takes a lot to kill a city,” says Mary Rowe, president and CEO of the Canadian Urban Institute, at the beginning of a recent Vox article that provides a roundtable discussion of experts on cities. The premise of the discussion: What is the future of cities, cutting through the culture war talking points and political propaganda that has dominated the discussion as the country emerges in fits and starts from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Here are the other experts cited in the article:

  • Mary Rowe – “president and CEO of the Canadian Urban Institute”
  • Richard Florida – “an urbanist and professor at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management”
  • Nicholas Bloom – “a Stanford economics professor who studies remote work”
  • Emily Talen – “a professor of urbanism at the University of Chicago”
  • Connor O’Brien – “Economic Innovation Group research associate”
  • Ellen Dunham-Jones – “a professor and director of the urban design program at Georgia Tech’s architecture school”
  • Esteban Rossi-Hansberg – “a professor in the University of Chicago’s economics department”
  • Matthew Kahn – “an economics professor at the University of Southern California”
  • Dror Poleg – “economic historian”
  • Kenan Fikri – “research director at Economic Innovation Group”
  • Arpit Gupta – “an associate professor of finance at NYU Stern”

For those keeping track at home, here are the number of times the article, between author and experts, mentions the following terms:

Climate: 3

Car(s): 1

Density: 1

Housing: 11

Transit: 5

Remote Work: 14

Covid: 2

Public Health: 0

Zoning: 1

Crime: 2

Pollution: 0

Air: 0

Water: 1

“Big cities — think New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago — will ultimately be okay, since a lot of what made them attractive in the first place is still there and impossible to find elsewhere. But that doesn’t mean they will — or can — stay the same,” writes post author Rani Molla to summarize the discussion.

“And while the move away from cities is overstated, even small shifts from powerhouses like NYC could represent windfalls for the suburbs, exurbs, and other cities those people choose to move to. That means smaller cities — like Cincinnati or Tulsa or Indianapolis — have a big opportunity to position themselves as destinations for those who do leave big cities, even as the largest urban areas are far from dying,” adds Rowe.

Monday, August 7, 2023 in Vox

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