Wednesday, March 31, 2021

"Why operate your business from an expensive midtown office when all you need is a smartphone and laptop, a tasteful backdrop for your video calls, and Amazon Prime?"

"Ask the same question on a societal level... why... pour billions into a staggeringly expensive system of urban infrastructure when all you need to keep the wheels of commerce turning is Zoom, Signal, and a reliable, super-fast wireless network…. After Covid, nothing defined 2020 more than an explosion of crime across urban America, even though there were far fewer people outdoors to victimize…. [A]re nightclubs as much of a draw when dating can be now conducted online?… Covid has [sped the] demise of retail stores…. [M]useums and concert halls [and] sports stadiums and arenas to theaters and neighborhood cinemas… are all under assault, [from Covid and from] streaming video and virtual events. Another potential threat to density is the green movement… The manufacture of density’s core ingredients, steel and cement, produces some 15 percent of the world’s carbon emissions…. The fates of major metropolises are hanging precariously as they grasp at untested policies predicated on borrowed stimulus dollars, short-term business bailouts, non-eviction mandates, and other spit-and-glue measures that are most likely unsustainable…. All these challenges will be made even greater as the politics of cities grow increasingly polarized." 

From "The Death of Density?/To survive and thrive, cities will have to overcome a number of formidable trends" by Richard Schwartz (who has "served in senior positions under 3 New York mayors).

I've compressed a lot, and I completely omitted the last paragraph — which calls for hope, hope for density. But the argument against density is so strong. You've got environmentalism counting in favor of the suburbs now. You've got all the new patterns of work and social life, all the speed and connection of the internet replacing the physical proximity maintained within a city. And you've got the crime in the city. And the politics, which will skew evermore to the left as people who want the benefits of nondensity — and want out of the ever-tightening grip of left politics — exercise their option to leave.

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