Are Cities Engines for Smart Growth?

Kids today would rather be mayor than president, Thomas L. Friedman writes in a recent column. “The country looks so much better from the bottom up—from its major metropolitan areas—than from the top down,” he writes, pointing to the partisanship and inefficiencies in federal and state legislatures.

New York cityscape image via Shutterstock

New York cityscape image via Shutterstock

Cities, therefore, are the laboratories and engines of our economy—a conclusion reached in a new book by Brookings Institution scholars Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley called “The Metropolitan Revolution: How Cities and Metros Are Fixing Our Broken Politics and Fragile Economy.” This inversion of hierarchy is partially a result of the Great Recession, which blew up a deformed growth model and allowed for the creation of a new growth model that focuses on creating networks that combine skilled labors and knowledge workers. Also, cities have become self-sufficient, as neither Washington nor state governments will help them.

Still, there are exceptions to the rule: namely, Detroit, which is “an extreme case,” Katz and Bradley write. Perhaps Katz will have more to say on the future of Detroit at the Techonomy Detroit conference in September, where he will be a speaker for the second year in a row.

(And maybe Twitter’s Jack Dorsey will again express his own mayoral aspirations.)

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