When Boston, Chicago, and New York rose to prominence in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, cities were conceptualized as landscapes of innovation, opportunity, and heterogeneity, where people and government pulled together for the common good. Those popular ideas have remained in the broader public imagination.
But in the last 30 years, everyday needs and resources once viewed as governmental responsibilities have been handed over to "outsider" companies whose scope, grasp, and concern for the on-the-ground life in a city is limited. Entertainment is relegated to shopping malls, chain stores, sports stadiums, and for-profit festivals. Small businesses are forced to compete with Best Buy, Staples, and Target. A cashier at a downtown stadium cannot afford to live close to his job, instead settling for a working-class suburb or in the outer rings of the city.