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Archive: Keith Schneider

New American Narrative: Strong Cities, Suburbs Allied?

Keith Schneider / Jul 23 2008

For Release Sunday, July 27, 2008

Keith Schneider That insistent rumble and scraping you hear. It’s the sound of the American story of the 20th century colliding with the new American narrative of the 21st.

More so than anyplace else, the shift is loudest and most visible in the nation’s cities, signalled by the steel on steel shriek of light rail and commuter lines carrying the most riders in 50 years.

And there’s a new buzz, too. The coffee shops and bars and lofts and shops and entrepreneurial businesses in Denver and Dallas, New York and Boston and dozens of cities in between, are being fired up by America’s bright, young, and ambitious people.

Meanwhile, the advent of $4 gas has triggered the biggest traffic downturn in a generation. Growing numbers of suburbanites sit in their McMansions’ great rooms clicking away on laptops, buying online instead of going to the mall.

If the half century after World War II was the great age of the suburb, the first half of the 21st century is unfolding as the era of a stronger, more cohesive American citistate of combined center city and much more urban suburbs. Today’s economy, politics, and culture mirror that shift. The nation’s survival – our sustainability – will depend on it.

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