From Mary Beard’s Roman history to Kim Stanley Robinson’s science fiction, Jonathan Carr chooses the best writing about citizens’ eternal challenges
A big city is rather like an overcrowded cruise ship, direction unclear, belching smoke, the lives of the many controlled by a few. Except that citizens are not, of course, on vacation. We have become a predominantly urban species. More than 80% of us, in Britain and the US, live in cities. So shouldn’t we know by now what makes them work?
Despite a changing world, many of the fundamentals have indeed stayed the same. There must be a viable economy, social inclusion, technological innovation, sufficient housing, clean water and sanitation. Growing cities require visionaries, inventors, engineers and a ready supply of immigrants. Inevitably, cities will breed crime, inequality, corruption and cause environmental degradation.
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