“The Media Can’t Stop Talking About the End of Cities” writes James Brasuell for Planetizen.
Since the pandemic began and the toll on our cities became clear, there has been intense focus on the future of our cities in this world forever changed by COVID-19. While many continue to predict a massive exodus from urban areas in the United States, we’re wondering if this is based on any conclusive data. And we wonder whether density is really deadly. There is an historic precedent to people leaving cities during pandemics. But there is also evidence that they have usually returned.
We’re unabashedly on the side of cities. We believe that they can and will adapt. City planning has a role to play and so do architects and designers. For those of us who love of cities, we’re begging for the idea of an exodus to be refuted. Remember, “Real, live, inspiring human energy exists when we coagulate together in crazy places like New York City” says Jerry Seinfeld in his opinion piece for The New York Times.
Another focus of change driven by the pandemic has been on the rise of remote working. The trend for working from home has been gaining traction since the internet was born, but Covid-19 has given it a very rapid and big boost. There is no doubt that many peoples’ working lives will be changed in some way. Some predict that more people working from home might help to revive our main streets. Others feel that there will always be a need for workers in the workplace — in August, just three months after its work-from-home announcement, Facebook signed a lease for a 730,000-square-foot office in Midtown Manhattan. There is also anecdotal evidence that some workers are missing the office
Another hot pandemic topic is the future direction of mobility. Transit systems are suffering badly from a loss of ridership, while car sales have spiked to accommodate single-occupancy commuting. And the pandemic has given us a wonderful glimpse of cities without congestion. Many cities around the world had already become too car-dependant and were making moves to become more pedestrian friendly pre-pandemic. Now they are taking advantage of the Covid-19 disruption to further reduce car use, allocating more space for pedestrians and bikes, sometimes in a very big way.
For now, cities and city dwellers are finding new ways to live and work. Says Jerry Seinfeld: “You think Rome is going away too? London? Tokyo? The East Village? They’re not. They change. They mutate. They re-form.”
And so will we.
Read the original article here.
Image courtesy of John D. Norton