The Great Inversion and the Future of the American City

The Great Inversion and the Future of the American City

by Alan Ehrenhalt


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Eye-opening and thoroughly engaging, this is an indispensible look at American urban/suburban society and its future.
In The Great Inversion, Alan Ehrenhalt, one of our leading urbanologists, reveals how the roles of America’s cities and suburbs are changing places—young adults and affluent retirees moving in, while immigrants and the less affluent are moving out—and addresses the implications of these shifts for the future of our society.
Ehrenhalt shows us how the commercial canyons of lower Manhattan are becoming residential neighborhoods, and how mass transit has revitalized inner-city communities in Chicago and Brooklyn. He explains why car-dominated cities like Phoenix and Charlotte have sought to build twenty-first-century downtowns from scratch, while sprawling postwar suburbs are seeking to attract young people with their own form of urbanized experience.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307474377
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/22/2013
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 665,650
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Alan Ehrenhalt was the executive editor of Governing magazine from 1990 to 2009. He is the author of The United States of Ambition, The Lost City, and Democracy in the Mirror. In 2000, he was the recipient of the American Political Science Association’s Carey McWilliams Award for distinguished contributions to the field of political science by a journalist. He lives near Washington, D.C.

Table of Contents

Prologue: Trading Places 3

Chapter 1 A Backward Glance 22

Chapter 2 A Neighborhood in Chicago 41

Chapter 3 Re-creation in New York 65

Chapter 4 The New Suburbia 91

Chapter 5 Caught in the Middle 116

Chapter 6 Uneasy Coexistence 137

Chapter 7 The Urban Squeeze 159

Chapter 8 Creating a Downtown 183

Chapter 9 Urbanizing the Suburbs 205

Conclusion 227

Acknowledgments 237

Notes 239

Select Bibliography 253

Index 263

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

The Great Inversion is a must read for anyone concerned with American cities, urbanism, and the future of the way we live. . . . The future of the city is the future of America and the world. Alan Ehrenhalt shows us how a desire for urbanism is bringing people back to America’s downtowns, and what suburbs and communities of all sorts must do to thrive in the future.”
—Richard Florida, author of Who’s Your City?
“[Ehrenhalt’s] provocative, nuanced examination of the dynamics of change encourages the reader to apply his insights to cities closer to home. . . . Alan Ehrenhalt’s fascinating new book, The Great Inversion . . . finds that American cities are doing a very un-American thing: reshaping themselves in the mold of European capitals, where the privileged live in the city center, orbited by rings of immigrants and other strivers in the poorer suburbs”
“Fascinating. . . . A convincing case. . . . Mr. Ehrenhalt’s travels have given him a front-row view of ‘The Great Inversion.’ . . . Alan Ehrenhalt has traveled to towns and cities across the land and witnessed firsthand the early stages of what surely will be nothing short of a social transformation.”
The Washington Times
“[A] mix of sharp-eyed observation and analysis. . . . Weaving census and public-opinion data throughout, Ehrenhalt displays the same narrative and reporting skills he put to good use in The Lost City.”
City Journal

“Ehrenhalt takes his reader on a tour of the changing American cityscape . . . An enjoyable and engaging read, especially for those considering a move back to the city . . . Solidly researched with great questions asked and plenty of hard facts and anecdotal answers provided.”
Christian Science Monitor

“Books about cities tend to be polemics. An author decides what’s right and wrong about how we live, then marshals anecdotes and rhetoric to buttress the case. There’s another way to approach the topic: in person and on foot, following one’s instincts but open to nuance along the way. Alan Ehrenhalt follows that path, to our benefit, in his new book The Great Inversion and the Future of the American City. . . . Ehrenhalt’s sympathies are with movements like new urbanism and smart growth, but these sympathies don’t blur his sharp eye for details or the wry clarity of his prose.”
San Francisco Chronicle

The Great Inversion and the United Nations agree; the world is becoming more urban by the day . . . To Ehrenhalt’s credit, he does not pass moral judgment on the process. With clear prose that is both informative and entertaining, he objectively states the facts (and presents a great number of voices from immigrant businessmen and local civil servants to politicians from Elite African-American families and developers), leaving his readers free to render their own verdict.”
—Joshua Bloodworth, Dominion of New York

“Most writers on cities are either cheerleaders or naysayers. Ehrenhalt is neither, and he has written a balanced, hard-hitting book that is a persuasive forecast of our complex urban future.”
—Witold Rybczynski, author of Makeshift Metropolis

“[The Great Inversion] is a serious, provocative, and gracefully written, and consistently interesting look at how the urban-suburban balance is shifting.”
Better! Cities & Towns

“The author’s historical perspective helps shape his provocative view.”
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