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The problems of success in the new urban era
In the latter half of the 20th Century, historic cities and towns in the United States were dying. That brought disinvestment, declining values, rising poverty, and crime. The one silver lining was cheap land and low housing costs.
Since about 2000, the demand for living and working in cities built prior to World War II has skyrocketed. Investment and values are rising and crime is down. But cities now face the problems of success.
In a recent public meeting, a woman asked how Ithaca, New York—my small city—can remain affordable to long-time residents. Ithaca is not Brooklyn or San Francisco, but it has many of the qualities in demand today: Walkability, mixed-use, historic architecture, and abundant culture. Values are rising. The same question is being asked again and again in cities across America.
There is no silver bullet—but there is a box of effective tools.