The Future of the City

June 3, 2022 • Volume 32, Issue 19
Has its death after COVID been greatly exaggerated?
By Holly Rosenkrantz


The COVID-19 pandemic ushered in widespread predictions about the death of cities. Data show that the largest U.S. cities experienced a population decline during the first year or so of the pandemic, while urban poverty and income inequality have risen and public transportation usage is dropping. Yet polling shows that people — especially young people — are still moving to cities, and rents in some urban areas continue to spike. Austin, Texas; Boise, Idaho; Nashville, Tenn., and other midsized cities are seeing an explosion of people moving in from bigger, higher-cost locales, such as the San Francisco Bay Area and cities in the Northeast, leading to the rising housing costs in those areas. So while the shift to remote and hybrid work, changing traffic patterns and increased inequality may alter the nature of cities, experts believe that predictions about the demise of the city are exaggerated, as they often have been throughout history.

Photo of empty Amsterdam Avenue in New York City on May 3, 2020. (AFP/Getty Images/Timothy A. Clary)
Amsterdam Ave. in New York City is nearly empty in May 2020 after COVID-19 forced schools and businesses to close. Many experts say cities will thrive again but must evolve to meet changing work habits and lifestyles. (AFP/Getty Images/Timothy A. Clary)
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
Consumer Behavior
Data and Statistics
Economic Analyses, Forecasts, and Statistics
Economic Development
Employee Benefits
Fair Housing and Housing for Special Groups
General Employment and Labor
Infectious Diseases
Internet and Social Media
Labor Standards and Practices
Low Income and Public Housing
Powers and History of the Presidency
Real Estate
Regional Planning and Urbanization
Rental Housing
Retail Trade
Small Business
Work and the Family