Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In
Streetsblog

When Did Cities Become Politically Unmentionable?

Want to have a not-very-fun presidential debate watching party tonight? Just make "cities" your drinking-game buzz word. Chances are you'll wake up tomorrow morning feeling fresh as a daisy.

false

As Kevin Baker wrote in the New York Times last week, the subject of cities -- the nuclei of our metro economies -- has been conspicuously absent from the fray this election season. Unless you count the part of the GOP platform that bashes the Obama administration for "replacing civil engineering with social engineering as it pursues an exclusively urban vision of dense housing and government transit."

The Times article has been widely discussed. Today, Mary Newsom at Network blog The Naked City points us toward a particularly interesting take at Citiwire. Writer Curtis Johnson wonders how both parties could so thoroughly miss the point:

Most Americans now live and work in metro regions, so you’d expect full-throated support for their futures. Metros host the nation’s treasure of cultural and recreational amenities. They are undeniably the economic engines that power ongoing (if a bit fragile today) prosperity of the whole country.

How can anyone not see that the United States today is largely a mash-up of metro economies? How does any serious candidate for our highest office run around, or against, his reality? But listen carefully to the debates, read the press reports, analyze the spin of campaign artists. You’ll discover almost no mention of urban areas. It’s as if this reality is invisible, or if seen at all, irrelevant.

Despite a burgeoning diabetes epidemic, our national policies shelter sugar growers. We shower subsidies on commodity farmers while denying support for critical metropolitan needs. The sad fact is this: We rely on our metros to generate the profits that pay the nation’s bills. But that’s not where the nation invests.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Baltimore Velo writes that the Charm City's plans for a bike-share system have reportedly fallen through. Building Cincinnati tells the story of a single street's conversion, 45 years later, from one-way to bi-directional. And Greater Greater Washington highlights a multi-family, transit-oriented development in California for both its high density and its design sensitivity.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

Small East Bronx Open Street Shows Big Potential

An open street on less than a block of Williamsbridge is one of just two in the entire East Bronx.

May 24, 2024

RIDE ON: E-Bikes are the Key to Sustainable Bike Share

E-bikes are “a big game changer for the shared bike industry," one expert said. Here's why.

May 24, 2024

Friday’s Headlines: Confirmation Consternation Edition

Life's a riot with Adams vs. Adams. Plus more news.

May 24, 2024

‘Late’ Island Rail Road: LIRR On-Time Stats Obscure Rider Fury at Thousands of Blown Connections

Late trains leave riders little time to make connections scheduled as tight as 4 minutes apart.

May 24, 2024

Pickup Truck Driver Kills Cyclist in Sunset Park But is Not Charged

The driver was not charged, police said, even though the official narrative clearly indicates that he turned into the cyclist.

May 23, 2024
See all posts