My friend and colleague Andrew Whittemore and his co-author Sam Bass Warner discuss their book on the changing spatial form of American cities on Atlantic Cities:
You write not only about the physical form of the city, but about their socio-economic divides as well. Tell us about how those divides have evolved and changed from our early compact cities to today’s sprawling metropolis with a center city and far-flung suburbs.
The American city is both an ever-changing physical presence and a social and political experiment. The first towns began with Englishmen and Hollanders and slaves from Africa, a beginning our nation is still trying to overcome. We know our urbanized nation today as compositions of highways, suburbs, scattered centers of all kinds. Compared to denser earlier eras it is a confusing physical brew where Americans are trying to live out a social and political goal of cities composed of citizen equals, regardless of color, sex, or class. Our book chronicles the conditions of the past and the progress made along the way. Today it is difficult to estimate what the new global corporate economy will do to our cities because the unexpected has always characterized urban history.
Read the whole article, then go buy the book!