Can't resist calling attention to friend Joel Kotkin's recent anti-city piece in the Wash Post:
See also some of the useful commentary that the article elicited (such as the point that a closed city isn't a city at all, at least not one worth living in):
For those who don't care to register at the WP, the following excerpt captures most of his main points:
"While modern cities are a long way from extinction, it's only by acknowledging the primacy of security -- and addressing it in the most aggressive manner -- that they will be able to survive and thrive in this new century, in which they already face the challenge of a telecommunications revolution that is undermining their traditional monopoly on information and culture, and draining their populations.
"As businesses and industries escape the urban core to operate in small towns and even the countryside, demographic surveys show that the population is going with them. After a brief, welcome surge in inner-city populations in the late 1990s, most older American cities have lost more people than they gained since 2000. Families, retirees and immigrants, all the key sources of new population growth, are largely deserting the urban core. This is true not only for perennial loserssuch as Baltimore, Cleveland, Philadelphia and Detroit, but also places that enjoyed a brief resurgence in the last decade, like San Francisco, Minneapolis and Chicago."
The London subway bombings give him the opportunity to proclaim, yet again, the imminent end of cities. I can't see how saying the obvious over and over again is worthy of publication (i.e. Boston is unaffordable and unattractive to families, Baltimore isn't what it used to be, Detroit is a basket case). But what I find most striking is that his answer to the new threat to cities, that of terrorism, is the security state. No consideration at all of how sprawl just might be, in effect, fueling terrorism by increasing our dependence on Saudi oil, or any mention of how a changed foreign policy just might have the effect not only of mitigating the terrorist threat but also perhaps might help revive our cities. Instead, more about how the cities have, seemingly of their own initiative, simply failed.