Bruce Katz
Jennifer Bradley
Brookings Institution Press, Washington, D.C., 2013, English
Nonfiction, Urban Design
Hardcover, 300 pages
ISBN: 9780815721512
Suggested Retail Price: $29.95

From the Publisher. A revolution is stirring in America. Across the nation cities and metropolitan areas, and the networks of pragmatic leaders who govern them, are taking on the big issues that Washington won’t, or can’t, solve. They are reshaping our economy and fixing our broken political system.

The Metropolitan Revolution is a national movement, and the book describes how it is taking root in New York City, where efforts are under way to diversify the city’s vast economy; in Portland, Oregon, which is selling the “sustainability” solutions it has perfected to other cities around the world; in Northeast Ohio, where groups are using industrial-age skills to invent new twenty-first-century materials, tools, and processes; in Houston, where a modern settlement house helps immigrants climb the employment ladder; in Miami, where innovators are forging strong ties with Brazil and other nations; in Denver and Los Angeles, where leaders are breaking political barriers and building world-class metropolises; and in Boston and Detroit, where innovation districts are hatching ideas to power these economies for the next century.

Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley highlight these success stories and the people behind them in order to share lessons and catalyze action. This revolution is happening, and every community in the country can benefit.

A Designers & Books Notable Design Book of 2013
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Witold Rybczynski

The headline in New York’s Daily News of October 29, 1975, famously read, “FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD,” characterizing the federal government’s disdain for the Big Apple’s financial woes. There have been no similar headlines recently but there may as well have been, as a fractious and ineffective Congress seems unable—or unwilling—to craft effective national policies to deal with the urban fallout of the current Great Recession.

The economic slow-down, which began in 2008, hit cities and metropolitan areas particularly hard but, as Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley point out in their provocative book, this time federal inaction has had an unexpected effect. It produced what they call a metropolitan revolution, a sort of power inversion in which federal inactivity in urban affairs has spurred local initiatives. “Nearly four years after the recession’s official end,” Katz and Bradley write, “it is clear that the real, durable reshaping is being led by networks of city and metropolitan leaders—mayors and other local elected officials, for sure, but also heads of companies, universities, medical campuses, metropolitan business associations, labor unions, civic organizations, environmental groups, cultural institutions, and philanthropies.”

The reshaping they describe in numerous examples—New York, Denver, Cleveland, and Houston are discussed in detail—takes political, economic, even global form, but it also has a physical component. One example is urban and suburban “innovation districts,” enclaves of mixed-use, often adjacent to research universities and medical complexes, whose urban design enables key attributes such as high density, proximity, and walkability. Jane Jacobs would approve.

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