This is Not the End of Cities

This readable article written by Richard Florida (urban studies professor) in June 2020, explores how recent crises and uprisings, such as the coronavirus pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement, offer opportunities to reshape our cities in more equitable ways. It covers topics such as: whether people are leaving cities, and the resilience of cities to past and present crises. Overall, it provides a more optimistic prognosis of the future of our cities.

Date added 18 August 2020
Last updated 18 August 2020

This short, conversational article written by Richard Florida (Professor of Urban Studies) in June 2020, explores how recent crises and uprisings witnessed across the globe, such as the coronavirus pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement, offer opportunities to reshape our cities in more equitable ways in the future. In doing so, he covers a range of topics such as:

  • Whether people are leaving cities, with supporting statistics from the USA
  • The impact of urban density on Covid-19 cases and deaths
  • How cities have shown resilience to past crises, such as the Spanish Flu
  • How recent crises and uprisings provide the potential for positive change in cities.

Regarding whether people are leaving cities due to health concerns, working from home, and desiring more greenspace, the author demonstrates how, whilst there is some evidence of city-dwellers seeking out real-estate outside of cities, (e.g. in New York, Philadelphia, and San Jose), other places are seeing reduced levels of searching for more suburban or rural dwellings (e.g. San Antonio, San Diego, and Houston). Indeed, the article provides a more optimistic prognosis of the future of cities, explaining how they have shown resilience in the face of past crises, meaning they can also recover from Covid-19. As the author contends:

Over the long course of history, cities have weathered all manner of pandemics and economic crashes, not to mention natural and unnatural disasters like wars, hurricanes, and earthquakes, none of which has permanently staunched their growth. Urbanization has always proven the greater force - stronger than the devastating Black Plagues that began in the fourteenth century, the deadly cholera outbreaks in nineteenth century London, and the horrific tragedy of the Spanish Flu...”

The article concludes that the pandemic, alongside the recent Black Lives Matter protests, have brought further attention to the inequalities experienced and witnessed in cities across the world. Such disruptions can, therefore, according to the author, now importantly offer us “...a chance to rebuild less divided and more equitable urban spaces”, whereby designing and managing places that are “...far more equitable, just and inclusive is the necessary first step in the long-overdue process of healing and recovery...”