So, I was going to add this to our social media stream and I realized two things. First, it's just going to make people mad. Second, I want people to not just be mad but to actually discuss it. So I'm going to share it here.
This is what I wrote in sharing an article from the NY Times titled America's Biggest Cities Were Already Losing Their Allure. What happens next?
We've been quick to defend cities, and aggressive in pointing out how commuter regions are more dangerous in pandemic than coherent neighborhoods, but there is a conversation that needs to be had about North America's megacities and the impacts of concentrating wealth and economic activity there.
What is New York City after financialization is no longer 40% of the economy? What does San Francisco become when tech recognizes that it can accomplish more with less cost and greater employee happiness operating a more distributive model?
Coronavirus isn't the end of cities, but it is a good time to discuss how to make our cities stronger, more resilient, and broadly more prosperous (and that might mean allowing that prosperity to spread to other cities).
I buy into the Leon Krier depiction of overexpansion of cities manifesting in both horizontal (often called sprawl) and vertical (towers) dimensions. I see both as equally fragile, although most urban activists despise the former and embrace the latter.
So what happens next? Read the feedback over on Hacker News to a piece we wrote last week and you'd think that San Francisco was about to embark on another doubling of property values and experience endless prosperity (at least that was the view from the Tech Bros on that board).
Let me ask it this way:
- New York City gain or lose population from today over the next decade?
- San Francisco gain or lose population from today over the next decade?
- Which of the three has the highest percentage growth in Median Household Income in one decade from now: NYC, San Francisco, US Median Household?