The Harsh Future of American Cities - in the Covid-19 era

Reality Check 101

Life will never return to normal.  It's the 'new normal'. 

During the next year our life will change once again. Most evident will be the increased level of background noise and automobile traffic. It will be many years until we move forward to a new reality.


Significant attribution to Steve Levine


History has unfolded in waves of profound depths
followed by the relief of buoyant times, only for the depths to return
with unsentimental speed. The French Revolution and the Reign of Terror
gave way to Paris’ jolly Incroyables and Merveilleuses, young men and
women who dressed ostentatiously and had a cathartic frolic — for about
four years until Napoleon took power. After World War I and the pandemic
Spanish Flu, the Roaring ’20s carried Berlin, London, and New York into
a new age of hilarity. But then came the global Great Depression.The hope in U.S. cities is that Covid-19 and the economic downturn will end with another delirious release — a rash of buying by exultant consumers, a new economic boom, and a return to work.


But alongside the displays of liberation, and for years after, American
cities and towns seem likely to see untold scars of both the pandemic
and the depression-like recession.
On the nation’s current trajectory, one of the most probable post-Covid
future scenarios in our cities is stark austerity, with empty coffers
for the very services and qualities that make for an appealing urban
life — well-paying jobs, robust public transportation, concerts,
museums, good schools, varied restaurants, boutiques, well-swept
streets, and modern office space. There will be hopping pockets of the
old days with adjustments for pandemic safety, but for years, many
businesses could be shuttered and even boarded up, unable to weather
Covid-19 and the economic downturn. Joblessness will be high, and many
of the arts may go dark.



 American cities and towns seem likely to see profound scars of both the pandemic and the depression-like recession.
  
In the Midwest, we have been pushing density — the rehabilitation of downtowns, smaller apartments in the core, the joy of being in a city,” Quinton Lucas, mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, said in an interview. “This completely arrests that development.” However, in this author's opinion small cities and rural areas may rebound. The longstanding effect of social distancing and isolation will contribute to a new form of socialization. Unaccustomed to quiet and solitude along with the sharp uptick of televideo conferencing and visual social groups, people will thrive. They will have learned the power of the internet, something our younger citizens (even boomers) already realize.

The 2010s started with a surge in city living, especially for millennials. They flocked to urban cores after the financial crash and injected them with vigor. But even before the coronavirus, the rush had tapped out. For the last couple of years, the top cities have been losing population, including New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, according to Brookings. The exodus has struck even San Francisco County, the capital of Silicon Valley. Who has been leaving, and where have they been going? A lot has been the same millennials now a little older and taking up residence on the outskirts of smaller metropolises like suburban and exurban Atlanta, Dallas, and Denver, where new jobs and affordable homes can be found.


     COVID-19 will transform the world, but changes might accelerate familiar trends


The Harsh Future of American Cities - GEN: