Future of the City

November 21, 1973

Report Outline
Contradictions of New Skylines and Old Blight
Growth and Problems of Urban America
Proposals for Cities of the Future
Special Focus

Contradictions of New Skylines and Old Blight

For at least two decades, experts have been saying that the core of the American urban complex, the inner city, is sick and may be dying. They may be right, for there is evidence almost everywhere—in city crime, poverty, congestion, pollution, racial polarity, and declining services to support that view. And yet, the urban situation is filled with contradictions that make prophecy hazardous.

Gleaming new buildings are changing the downtown skyline of American cities where signs of business vitality were so notably lacking only a few years ago. The Wall Street Journal reported on July 16 that “downtown hotels are being built at a faster clip than at any time since the Depression.” Glittering shopping malls are no longer the exclusive property of the suburbs. Philadelphia's Society Hill and Washington's Capitol Hill afford two examples of once fashionable residential districts that degenerated into near-slum areas only to become fashionable again.

Are these transformations a sign of lasting change, or do they remain anomalies? A few voices, often those of civic leaders, are saying the city is actually making a comeback. Others perceive the matter differently. They note that the return to the central city is for the most part limited to the young and adventuresome, and those able to afford the few safe, luxury neighborhoods.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Urban Planning
Jun. 03, 2022  The Future of the City
Jun. 04, 2021  Rebuilding America's Infrastructure
Aug. 21, 2020  Economic Clustering
Nov. 01, 2019  Caregiving Crunch
Jul. 27, 2012  Smart Cities
Apr. 09, 2010  Earthquake Threat
Apr. 2009  Rapid Urbanization
Jun. 23, 2006  Downtown Renaissance Updated
May 28, 2004  Smart Growth
Oct. 03, 1997  Urban Sprawl in the West
Mar. 21, 1997  Civic Renewal
Oct. 13, 1995  Revitalizing the Cities
Jun. 09, 1989  Not in My Back Yard!
Apr. 28, 1989  Do Enterprise Zones Work?
Nov. 22, 1985  Supercities: Problems of Urban Growth
Jul. 23, 1982  Reagan and the Cities
Nov. 18, 1977  Saving America's Cities
Oct. 31, 1975  Neighborhood Control
Nov. 21, 1973  Future of the City
Feb. 07, 1973  Restrictions on Urban Growth
May 20, 1970  Urbanization of the Earth
Nov. 06, 1968  New Towns
Oct. 04, 1967  Private Enterprise in City Rebuilding
Feb. 10, 1965  Megalopolis: Promise and Problems
Mar. 04, 1964  City Beautiful
Aug. 21, 1963  Urban Renewal Under Fire
Jan. 21, 1959  Metropolitan Areas and the Federal Government
Jul. 30, 1958  Persistence of Slums
Dec. 09, 1953  Outspreading Cities
Nov. 22, 1952  Slum Clearance: 1932–1952
Jan. 14, 1937  Zoning of Urban and Rural Areas
Economic Development
Regional Planning and Urbanization
State, Local, and Intergovernmental Relations