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Perspective

Cities Can't Fix the New Urban Crisis

Not on their own, at least. To address the ever-more-complex problems afflicting cities, we’ll need a regional approach.
Milwaukee has struggled to bring in new jobs. City leaders are now trying to align economic development strategies across a seven-county greater metro area.
Milwaukee has struggled to bring in new jobs. City leaders are now trying to align economic development strategies across a seven-county greater metro area. AP

Richard Florida’s book The New Urban Crisis contains a number of important truths about the challenges facing America’s metropolitan areas. Chief among them is the recognition that prevailing narratives about metropolitan areas in this country are at best only partly accurate. Cities aren’t uniformly places of wealth and abundance, nor are they uniformly in disrepair and decay. Not all suburbs reflect a sunny vision of the American dream. And even the most prosperous metro areas are riven with disparities by race, class, and place.

Instead, our country is divided into neighborhoods of concentrated advantage and concentrated disadvantage that exist across the urban-suburban-rural continuum, forming a pattern that Florida calls the “Patchwork Metropolis.” Finding ways to bridge these divides and enable more people and places to benefit from economic growth lies at the heart of the New Urban Crisis.