A lot can go wrong when people flee cities with their wealth and wits.
America’s superstar cities lost a bit of their shine this year. The pandemic and recession hit metropolises like New York City and San Francisco hard. Many of New York City’s wealthiest neighborhoods saw upwards of half their residents pack up in search of social distance. Rents plummeted. As fear drove people out of the city, it seemed like we had potentially reached the end of a decades-long urban renaissance.
Yet, even as the damage that this flight caused became apparent, many hoped that the pandemic would lead to an urban reset. “A few years of flight might flush out some of the suburban attitudes and global wealth that have drained its flavor,” wrote urbanist Thomas Dyja in his new book about New York City. “Fewer Karens and cheaper rents would be positive things.” Degentrifying the “luxury city”—what could go wrong?
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