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What the New Urban Anchors Owe Their Cities

Corporations like Google and Amazon reap the spoils of winner-take-all urbanism. Here’s how they can also bear greater responsibility.
A street car makes its way past the corporate headquarters of Twitter in San Francisco.
A street car makes its way past the corporate headquarters of Twitter in San Francisco.Robert Galbraith/Reuters

As some of the main drivers and primary beneficiaries of the recent urban revival, anchor institutions are often the largest employers in their communities. While typical examples of “anchor institutions” include large universities, hospitals, and medical centers—so-called “meds and eds”—that quite literally anchor urban centers, other powerful anchors, including successful high-tech companies and real estate developers, have the capacity and resources to wield enormous influence on today’s cities.

However, the last decade has given rise to a troubling pattern of “winner-take-all urbanism” in which a select group of large, dense cities and an even smaller number of neighborhoods reap the spoils of innovation and economic growth. Anchors benefit enormously from this recent urban revival. And as a result, they must commit themselves to generating more inclusive prosperity.