Critical Shortage of Critical Mass

As birthrates continue to drop, especially in aging countries, planners are being asked to consider how to plan for shrinking cities.
September 20, 2004, 7am PDT | Connie Chung
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According to a Berlin-based exhibit entitled, "The Shrinking Cities," several cities worldwide are suffering from population loss, crime and economic disinvestment due to an alarming drop in birthrates. "Today, while hundreds of millions of Asians and Africans are just starting to move to cities, one quarter of the world's urban centers are declining in population—twice the number a decade ago."

The curator of the exhibit contends that today’s planners and policymakers "have not even begun to face the facts" and that ' "[u]rban planning is all still in terms of new growth and construction." '

The first urban shrinkage policy is being applied in Leipzig, Germany, with mass demolitions of communist-era apartment buildings that will "let the grass grow back."

Thanks to Connie Chung

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Published on Monday, September 27, 2004 in Newsweek
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