The Power of Cities

The mariner gives his post to the review of a book by  Vishaan Chakrabarti .

Following is an excerpt related to the power of cities to lift us from an agricultural society that continues to dominate its influence beyond its true value. In recent posts, the mariner has suggested that the way to the future power of the United States is to recognize the power of states and cities as the future owners of economy – and the answer to the recession is state and city political energy.

In A Country of Cities, author Vishaan Chakrabarti argues that well-designed cities are the key to solving America’s great national challenges: environmental degradation, unsustainable consumption, economic stagnation, rising public health costs and decreased social mobility.

If we develop them wisely in the future, our cities can be the force leading us into a new era of progressive and prosperous stewardship of our nation. In compelling chapters, Chakrabarti brings us a wealth of information about cities, suburbs and exurbs, looking at how they developed across the 50 states and their roles in prosperity and globalization, sustainability and resilience, and health and joy.

Counter to what you might think, American cities today are growing faster than their suburban counterparts for the first time since the 1920s. If we can intelligently increase the density of our cities as they grow and build the transit systems, schools, parks and other infrastructure to support them, Chakrabarti shows us how both job opportunities and an improved, sustainable environment are truly within our means.

In this call for an urban America, he illustrates his argument with numerous infographics illustrating provocative statistics on issues as disparate as rising childhood obesity rates, ever-lengthening automobile commutes and government subsidies that favor highways over mass transit. The book closes with an eloquent manifesto that rallies us to build “a Country of Cities,” to turn a country of highways, houses and hedges into a country of trains, towers and trees.

The mariner advises that the solutions, while true to the dilemma of cities, does not encompass the global conflicts that confront the nation.

Vishaan Chakrabarti is the director of Columbia University’s Center for Urban Real Estate (CURE). In March 2012, Chakrabarti became a partner at SHoP Architects, where he will be working on such projects as the Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn. An architect and planner, Chakrabarti has worked in both the public and private sectors: as a top executive at Related Companies; a director at the New York City Planning Commission; an associate partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; a transportation planner for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The mariner urges that you consider reading this book or at least consider the political power that exists within states and especially cities while the Federal Government struggles with a solution.

Ancient Mariner

Leave a Reply