Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Newsweek Consigns the Great Cities of the World to History's Dustbin (Or Do They?)
While last week's U.S. edition of Newsweek was content with putting Brad Pitt on its cover along with other of the 15 winners of its new "Giving Back Awards" recognizing those devoted "to helping others", the International edition focused on an exhaustive and provocative appraisal of current state of world urbanism.
It leads off with an essay by Rana Foroohar declaring that for great cities like London, Tokyo and New York, "their day is over," and that the future belongs to metropolises with less than a half-million people. (Half of today's city dwellers already reside in them.). However, there's a lot more to the issue than just the lead article, and in another piece, "The Ten Most Dynamic Cities", there, among not-yet household names like Florianopolis, Brazil and Goyang, Korea, are don't-know-they're-dead-yet Munich, Moscow, and - surprise, surprise, surprise - London. Which would seem to indicate that, despite Foroohar's proclamations, 200,000 houses and a Wal-Mart may not a civilization make.
But then, again, there's the obligatory Panglossian apologia for sprawl by the seemingly inevitable Joel Kotkin, but that, too, is balanced with another piece by Richard Florida that argues that the impetus for growth and innovation comes not from big cities or small cities, but from "New Megalopolis" type agglomerations like the Boston-Washington or Chicago-Pittsburgh corridors, that combine both. There are also a host of other articles on everything from China's Golden Cities, to Tailing the X-Commuter, profiling what is claimed to be the fastest growing category of commuters: those who spend at least 90 minutes - each way - traveling to and from work.
It's a shame that this series wasn't given similar prominence in Newsweek's U.S. edition. Do the editors believe our attention begins to drift whenever the subject is anything other than the world within our own borders? Whatever - this issue is a great piece of journalism, and it's well worth your checking out on-line.
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