What Makes Cities Work?

I’m a sucker for travel journalism. Even better when someone can connect the dots. This piece by James Fallows on what makes cities work is a must-read.

By the time we had been to half a dozen cities, we had developed an informal checklist of the traits that distinguished a place where things seemed to work. These items are obviously different in nature, most of them are subjective, and some of them overlap. But if you tell us how a town measures up based on these standards, we can guess a lot of other things about it. In our experiences, these things were true of the cities, large or small, that were working best:

  1. Divisive national politics seem a distant concern.
  2. You can pick out the local patriots.
  3. “Public-private partnerships” are real.
  4. People know the civic story.
  5. They have a downtown.
  6. They are near a research university.
  7. They have, and care about, a community college.
  8. They have unusual schools.
  9. They make themselves open.
  10. They have big plans.
  11. They have craft breweries.

Source: Eleven Signs a City will Succeed

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