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New York was hardest hit by the coronavirus, but it’s unlikely to lose its ranking among the world’s great cities.

New York was hardest hit by the coronavirus, but it’s unlikely to lose its ranking among the world’s great cities.

Photographer: Spencer Platt/Getty Images 

CityLab
Culture

This Is Not the End of Cities

Both the coronavirus pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement create opportunities to reshape cities in more equitable ways. 

(The following is the first of a three-part essay that breaks down overlapping crises that are reshaping America’s cities. The initial installment examines why predictions of the impending end of cities are overblown — and why they may come back stronger.)

As the coronavirus crisis and its economic, social and political fallout swept across America, it seemed the death of cities was imminent. Story after story charted a “great urban exodus,” as the affluent and advantaged from New York City fled to the suburbs, summer cottages in the Hamptons and Hudson Valley, or their winter getaways in Palm Beach and Miami. This gloomy thesis was reinforced by a rapid succession of calamities that struck at cities in the wake of the pandemic — the most severe economic collapse and job loss since the Great Depression; the metastasizing crisis for small businesses, retail, and arts and culture; and looming fiscal deficits for cities.