Alumni Insights: The New Allure of the American City

American cities are experiencing a revival. There is a partial return of former city dwellers from places formerly seen as more hospitable to everyday life. The city as spectacle is appealing to younger generations, for whom the suburban experience appears commonplace and dull. Older generations seem more willing to substitute suburban backyards for having immediate access to a bit of culture, culinary pleasures, and conviviality. An appreciation for something called “pedestrian urbanism”—a walk around town—has gained favor, a welcome turn from the dominant reign of the car. However, this kind of urban allure comes with some negative consequences, attracting new investment and consumers in some areas but not in others, enabling only certain segments of society to prosper. This conversation with leaders who help plan America’s cities will explore the new urban allure and ways to address the consequences. Moderated by Alex Krieger (MCPUD ’77), professor in practice of urban design, with Sara Myerson (MUP ’11), director of planning at Boston Planning and Development Agency; Edith Hsu-Chen (MUP ’97), Manhattan Borough Director, New York City Department of City Planning; Frank Ruchala, Jr. (MArch ’05, MUP ’05), deputy director for zoning, New York City Department of City Planning, and Eric D. Shaw (MUP ’00), director of the DC Office of Planning.

Supported by the Rachel Dorothy Tanur Memorial Lectureship Fund.

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