Survival of the city: Living and Thriving in an Age of Isolation


Survival of the City: Living and Thriving in an Age of Isolation, by Harvard University economists Edward Glaeser and David Cutler characterizes the pandemic as a serious “existential threat to the urban world, because the human proximity that enables contagion is the defining characteristic of the city” (Note on Authors).

This is from the same Edward Glaeser who wrote the highly acclaimed Triumph of the City, just a decade ago. But the clear demographic shifts, and then the pandemic, and responses to it have changed everything.

The Pandemic City

Glaeser and Cutler put the issue starkly. “Our cities have become rigged game that favors insiders over outsiders.” They characterize this as the closing of the metropolitan frontier and opportunities extinguished.

This leads them to a challenging urban agenda. “Business and land use regulations must be reduced and rewritten. Schools must be strengthened. Policing must both prevent crime and respect every citizen. Pandemics must cease so that urban entrepreneurs can again create opportunity, even in the poorest neighborhoods.” 

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