You would never know it from reading the president’s Twitter feed, which unloaded anew on urban America last weekend with depictions of Baltimore as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.” But cities are enjoying a golden age, one that has made them safer, more prosperous and more attractive relative to suburban and rural America than at any time in recent decades.
Instead of bleeding residents, much of urban America is growing. Rather than scaring away young, educated workers, cities have become a magnet for them. Once a turnoff for corporate investment and development, many urban neighborhoods have become the most coveted places to be.
Without a doubt, the sort of blighted neighborhoods Trump has described still exist, often trapping low-income residents in decaying, high-crime zones as the rest of the city gentrifies around them. Some have even gotten worse, falling further behind as more favored areas sprint ahead.
While uneven, the urban revival has been broad-based, with nearly every sizable American city benefiting. To those who study cities for a living, Trump’s words seem outdated, a relic of a period in the 1980s and early 1990s when urban America appeared to be in terminal decline. The story this century has been decidedly different.